A Theology of Vacation

My wife and I have just returned from our second vacation in Orange County, CA. It was much needed and wonderfully restful.

We ate good food, drank cheap beer by the pool, drove north to Hollywood Boulevard to see Grauman’s Chinese Theater (and compare my fist-print with John Wayne’s), and spent an entire day at Crystal Cove State Park boogie-boarding.

But come Monday, I’ll be back at the office. No more staying up ’til 1am or sleeping ’til 10am. It will be back to the discipline of eating healthy (somewhat) and getting to bed at a reasonable hour so I can wake up early and get to work.

But you know, I enjoy working. Believe it nor not.

Many people treat Mondays like a disease. But for me, Monday signifies another week to earn provision for my family. And it also means we’re only five days from Saturday.

On the rare occasion when I have to call in sick, I honestly can’t stand it. I find laying around the house watching daytime TV to be incredibly boring. And frankly? Depressing.

We were created to work.

When God made Adam, He set him in the Garden to work it and keep it (Gen. 2:15).

Work isn’t a result of Adam’s sin. It is a gift from God. It is the means God has chosen to allow us to join with Him in providing for our families (who, incidentally, are also a gift from God).

But along with the gift of work came the gift of rest. And rest is not merely a good idea or suggestion. It is commanded of us.

Rest is a Creation ordinance because God himself rested after six days of creating. Genesis 2 tells us that God blessed [the sabbath] and set it apart as holy (Gen. 2:3).

Later, in Exodus 20:8, we are told to keep the Sabbath holy.

God made it holy. And we are to keep it that way.

How do we keep the Sabbath holy? By doing as God did—resting.

But on this side of what Jesus did on the Cross, our sabbath rest looks different. More complete.

The author of Hebrews says, “…there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:9,10).

So the Sabbath for us who are in Christ is not a restriction (don’t do…). It is a picture of our greater rest (do…). We may now rest from our efforts to justify ourselves by works of the Law (Gal. 2:16). We recognize the futility in that. We are (and the people of God have always only ever been) justified by Christ’s sinless perfection. We are simply given a fuller understanding having seen the work of Christ on our behalf.

And yet, Hebrews tell us to strive to enter this rest!

So rest! Weekly. Each Lord’s Day, rest from your usual work. But also be reminded that we may rest from our vain attempts to earn God’s favor. His favor is given freely in Christ. Rest!

And let the end of your work week, the end of your work day, your vacationing all serve as a reminder that we find our true rest in Christ.

And ultimately, at the end of the age, when all things are fully and finally reconciled to Christ (Col. 1:20), we will still work. But it will not be by the sweat of our brows, as it has been since Adam’s fall (Gen. 3:19). It will be meaningful and joyful work as it was before.

Let us be those who glorify God both in our resting and in our working.

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