It’s time to take a vacation — at church

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Oh, it’s been a busy day! How many times has the following happened to you?

You are working, running, flying around all day long, you come to the end of the day and, flopping on the bed, exclaim, “Oh, it’s been a busy day! I’m exhausted.”

No doubt many of us in America are leading very busy lives — always in a rat race. Comedian Lily Tomlin quips, “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat.”

I think there may be some spiritual truth in that.

One time, Jesus was so busy he and his disciples had no time even to eat because the crowds were pressing them with all their demands.

Finally, Jesus closed down the meeting and told his disciples to follow him to a remote place, leaving all the people and their demands behind (Mark 6:30-32). It was time for the disciples to take a vacation with Jesus.

I’m suggesting that the church should be a place of rest, a place of respite, a vacation with Jesus from all the demands of life, the urgency of schedules and the pressures of other people. So when people say to me, “I don’t have time to come to church,” I think, “How sad! Your life is scheduled so that you can’t take a vacation with God?”

I love to walk into the church in the middle of the week when no one is there.

There is such a peaceful feeling: Quiet, holy, a deep sense of the Lord’s presence. He lingers in the church on the praises and prayers of the people who met there the previous Sunday.

And when Sunday comes, think about what we do in church: We sing praise to God, offer him our prayers, listen to his word. None of that really has any practical value, at least from the point of view of the world. Some would say, “You are just wasting your time, when you could be doing something productive.”

As a teenager in my home church, I noticed a fellow who would often sit near us, scribbling on the bulletin Sunday after Sunday. One day I sat close enough to snoop, and I read what he was writing. His notes were about business appointments and about what he needed to do Monday morning. Obviously he didn’t want to waste any time, so he did something practical with his time in church.

The truth is, church is not about doing something practical. God is calling us to “waste” our time on him. He calls us to take a vacation from the routine of life and all our busy schedules and just lavish our precious time on Him.

Certainly there are distracting personalities in the church. You may even have a real problem with someone who sits down in front of you in the worship service.

My experience, however, is that if I tune into God, the distractions vanish. I can always find rest and peace with God. The time I spend there is a good vacation from the stresses of my normal life.

One of the meanings of the Hebrew word Sabbath is to “stop.” Stop what you usually do and dedicate your time to God.

When was the last time you “stopped” to lavish some time on the God, who created you and redeemed you with the blood of his son Jesus? When was the last time you “stopped” to spend some time with the God, who wants you to spend eternity with Him?

The Rev. Gregory Bye is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Dayton. Contact him at 509-382-4662. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by email at catherinehicks@wwub.com.

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