I love vacation. Some people never quite use all of their vacation time — I’m not one of them.
It’s not that I don’t love my job. I do. But it’s a demanding job that makes time away particularly sweet.
This summer I was away for three weeks. The first week was for the annual Acts29 Network Pastor’s Retreat (which is more like a conference). The second two weeks were in Colorado visiting friends and family.
Along the way I learned a number of things, some important and some not-so-much. Here goes.
1. Physical environment impacts you in powerful ways.
One of my favorite things to do in Colorado was sit outside and read. I was in the shade, surrounded by tall trees with leaves that rustled in the wind. It was so peaceful.
I could have done the same activity in a different place and it wouldn’t have been as refreshing.
God has wired us in such a way that our hearts and bodies connect with our physical surroundings. We aren’t virtual people. We’re real people who are moved in powerful ways by our surroundings.
2. Sleep is really important.
As somebody who has almost always slept well, I’ve tended to take it for granted. But then about two months ago I started sleeping poorly, often waking up at 3am unable to fall back asleep. I don’t take it for granted anymore.
I was blessed to sleep on vacation until 8-9am most days. I feel a lot better as a result.
It’s reminded me of John Piper’s “Brief Theology of Sleep”, where he reminds us that sleep is a reminder that we’re not God.
3. People are different.
This is kind of a no-brainer, but what made me think about this was a 25-mile bike ride we took from Frisco, CO to Keystone, CO and back around Dillon Reservoir. The scenery was beautiful, but the bike ride was terrible.
My wife and best friend Matthew both love to cycle. For the life of me, I can’t imagine what is enjoyable about it.
Good reminder that people are different. What refreshes me doesn’t always refresh everyone else, and vice-versa.
4. It’s nice to go to church with no responsibility for the service.
I had a great experience at all three churches. In particular, I heard three solid sermons that encouraged and blessed me.
It’s wonderful to have a time when you can just come to church, participate in the service and enjoy it without thinking about preaching a sermon, order of service, technical issues, etc.
At Mission Hills they offered for people to come forward for prayer in response to the sermon. It was a joy to go forward, receive prayer, and be encouraged.
5. Constant online connection is overrated and unnecessary.
I worked quite hard to unplug during vacation. No email. No blog reading. No Facebook or Twitter.
To enforce this, I uninstalled Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and Feedly from my phone. I also tucked the native iPhone Mail app into a folder that made it tougher to get to.
For the first few days, anytime I had a down moment waiting in line or something, I found myself reaching into my pocket for my phone. But it’s more out of habit than necessity. It took a while, but not having these things led to a greater sense of freedom and enjoyment.
I’ve been back now for a week and a half and haven’t reinstalled them. I’m using all these things again, but don’t need them on my phone. When I’m on a computer, I can check that stuff. Otherwise, it’s not that crucial.
Sure, there were 414 emails to sift through and 684 articles in my blog reader upon my return. But almost none of those were as urgent as I often trick myself into thinking when I feel the need to check every 10 seconds.