I am so very happy to be writing you again. I took time off to write a book that I am very near completing, as I find a publisher, and make it available, I will let you know. In fact, as the Spirit allows, I may include excerpts in this column. Allow me to express my many thanks to Don Hinkle for his allowing me time from writing in The Pathway, and his most excellent advice in the world of publishing.
I just returned from vacation, visiting my family in Kentucky, after an extremely busy summer. This caused me to reflect with you on this thing called vacation, and its grip on discipleship.
Many years ago, early on in my ministry, a young man was giving me advice on vacation. He told me, “Sometimes, you have to get away from everything, to go on vacation,” then he added, “YOU (pointing at me) need to even leave the Bible at home, take a break from it for awhile.” Taken aback, I regained composure and told him that simply wasn’t happening, and thanked him for his concern. I think about that comment, EVERY vacation, and I think how sad that he feels this way.
You see, part of our problem in the Christian life, the worship life, and the disciple’s life is that we think it is something that we simply must hang up from time to time, so as to eliminate burn-out. It is a concept that Christianity, like work, golf or fishing, is a drain, requiring a retreat. If we think that way, then we truly haven’t adopted the Christian life as the core of who, and Whose, we are. Instead, it is perceived as a joyless pursuit of living and working outside of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I do go a day or two without reading every once in a while. I feel horrible!
Fact is, as a soldier of the cross, we must depend on orders from the Master daily. Our call is to hunger to reconcile, and balance our spiritual books on a daily basis to see where we must go.
As Christians, we may need to get away from talking of salvation as a free gift only, requiring us to simply do nothing after accepting it. This life of servitude, this college of Christianity, is absolutely merciful to those who want to sign-up, but methodically unmerciful to those who want to slack. The convert must understand this. This Christianity thing is no game, and we are not the referee who can call a time-out simply because we want to. We don’t do this to garner salvation, or even ‘brownie points’ (a pitiful expression in any relationship). We do this because of a command to be “in season and out of season”.
As we are going back to work from another hot and sultry summer, maybe it is time we return from vacation – for some, it may be a 15-20 year vacation – to be hearers and doers of the word of God.
“And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil,’ Zeph. 1:12.
Let’s get to work. (John Francis is the worship specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention and produces MoWorship, a monthly worship podcast available at www.mobaptist.org/worship.)