Originally published Friday, 05 June 2015.
Rest. Relaxation. Stillness. Peace. These are the pursuits of summer vacation.
By the time summer rolls around our house, we are more than ready for it. The school year pushes us hard. Each minute of the day is spent; we barely finish one thing before we rush on to the next. We are ready for a break from getting up early, school work, sports and other afternoon activities.
Summer vacation, whether it is spent away from home or simply hanging out at the local swimming pool, forces us to slow down, to push pause on life, and to rest our weary minds.
Yet, while time away from our usual work and routine is good and often rejuvenating, it is only temporary. The peace and rest we find on summer vacation doesn't last. In fact, laying out by the pool, walking along the beach, or camping under the stars may help us slow down but they don't provide the cure to a busy and cluttered heart. Even standing at the heights of a mountain and seeing God's amazing work in creation won't give us enduring peace. We'll soon return to normal life and find ourselves busy and distracted by the cares daily life.
Our Savior knew more than any of us what a busy life is like. Crowds of people followed him from place to place. Someone always needed healing. There was always a heart that needed hope or a life that needed resurrection. He spoke to thousands on the hillside for hours and hours. No matter where he went, people were tugging and pulling and crying out his name.
Jesus had a purpose here and he was intent on fulfilling it. Yet he also knew when it was time to slow down. He took time, even in the midst of a demanding schedule to seek the rest he needed (Luke 5:16). He often went alone to the olive groves to refresh and find restoration. Yet the rest he sought wasn't simply about being alone or taking a break from working, he took these breaks to go to the source of peace and rest: communion with his Father.
Our Lord spent his life here on earth pointing us to the Source of all peace. He knew that ultimate peace and rest does not come from merely taking a break. It doesn't come from vacations, long walks on the beach, or counting stars in the sky. Rather, real peace and rest comes from being in right relationship with our Creator. It comes from knowing him, finding our meaning in him, and being completely satisfied in him.
Long lasting, real, and forever peace and rest comes from knowing that all our burdens and cares have been taken from us at the cross. It comes from knowing that our greatest fear and burden, the sin that separates us from God, was removed forever when Jesus died as our substitute. It comes from knowing that one day, he will return again and make all things new.
This means that peace and rest isn't something to be sought only on the weekends or during vacations. It's available to us every moment of every day. "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid" (John 14:27 NLT). Jesus came so that we would have peace and rest forever. He came to take all our burdens and cares. "Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29). He came to give us what we needed most, restoration with our Maker and Creator.
When summer ends and our alarm clock returns to its normal wake up time, the rest and peace we have through Christ is still with us. In fact, we don't have to live from weekend to weekend or vacation to vacation. We can rest in Christ each and every day. We can rest from striving to do life on our own. We can rest from carrying burdens of sin, grief, or shame. We can rest from trying to earn the love that has already been freely given to us. We can rest from all these things and rest in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Summer vacation is a joy. Pushing pause on the busyness of life is a good thing. Our bodies and minds need such breaks. But it is only a pause. Real life will return. As we enjoy this break, may we remember that peace and rest doesn't have to leave at the end of August. We don't have to pack it away with our flip flops and swim suits until next year.
Real rest. Real peace. It's always ours because of Jesus Christ.