>> April 7, 2010
I'm sitting in Books A Million in Gulf Shores, Alabama. We are on vacation with my parents, and having a wonderful time. My mother has a friend who owns a beach house here and offered to let us use it. What a blessing! It seems those are the only vacations we ever take--those that are free. A friend invites us somewhere, or we go to visit out-of-town family, or as in this case, extended family takes us with them on their vacation. The payscale of a pastor doesn't lend itself to frequent elaborate vacations at sandy beach resorts or tourist hotspots, does it? In fact, because I am a stay-at-home mom, the pastor's pay doesn't lend itself to ANY vacation! But we are blessed to be able to take advantage of the generosity of friends and family.
The unfortunate thing about utilizing such vacation opportunities is that it may not be a "true" vacation, in the sense of getting away. In our case, we are with my parents and my brother's family (who happens to be on the opposite extreme from us politically and doctrinally). But we are also with church members. You see, my parents belong to our local church. Now don't get me wrong--I love having my parents as church members. They help me with the boys during church service (because we PWs are in fact single mothers at church!), and I can always call on them to "volunteer" when no one else will step up to perform some ministry duty. However, for my PH, this kind of vacation is not really a true vacation. He attempts to set boundaries,such as not discussing church matters, doctrinal issues, etc. However, he just can't get away from it entirely. So his way of dealing with it is to play all day riding the waves on boogy boards with our boys.
This reminds me of our "Sabbath" day. As ministers, the day we worship is no day of rest. Our families are going usually from sun up to way past sun down the entire weekend. We are weekend warriors for our churches. So we have to take a "Sabbath rest" some other time during the week. For our family, that day is Thursday. My oldest son is actually the one who instituted it in our home. It is our family night. Each week one person decides what we will do for that night. It may be board games, playing the Wii, renting a movie, going to the park, making cookies, etc. We are not allowed to complain about what was chosen because it will be our turn to choose another week. The time we spend together is precious and uniterrupted by others. We have come to treasure and guard these family nights.
God instituted the Sabbath in the Garden of Eden, before the Fall. He spent six days creating a perfect paradise, and then He rested. He didn't need to rest from working. It wasn't like He worked so hard that He tired Himself out. Instead the Sabbath was a gift to Adam and Eve so that they could enjoy with Him what He had made for them. The Sabbath is a gift to us too. It is a time when we can stop working to enjoy with Him and with our families and friends what God has created and done for US. We all need to have a time to stop "working" and to "rest."
Now, I am by no means saying that as pastoral families we should make our Sabbath another day during the week than the day we worship with our church family. I am truly blessed by the "work" we do on our Sabbath day. However, we MUST take some time off during the week to just rest: to be free from church responsibilities, school and work. A time to just enjoy being together as a family without church members calling, or sermon prep looming. It is probably more important for pastoral families than anyone else. With out this rest, Satan will be able to use stress and exhaustion and burn out to tear our families, our ministries, and our lives apart. God wants us to take this time off. That's why He gave us the weekly Sabbath. It is up to us to make it happen!
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