America’s value of busyness, and Western Christianity’s emphasis on good works and missions, fill me with guilt when taking even a much-needed break. But what if you just want to take a vacation? I’ve never allowed myself to even conceive of more pleasure than buying myself Arby’s curly fries after a hard day. Yet lately, God has been calling me to enjoy His abundance in life and to see my value. The truth is I don’t really believe I’m worth receiving pleasure when there’s so much suffering in the world. So, when joyful opportunities present themselves to me, I turn them down with a mix of piety and resentment.
I’m not expounding Sabbath, arguing “blessing” theologies, or even exegeting Ecclesiastes 2:24, but I am sharing how God has stretched and spoken to me this year.
Last October I was feeling extremely envious; it seemed everyone was travelling to foreign countries. Travel is a value to me and my family, but I had nothing planned. As I complained to a friend, he piped up, “Why don’t you go on a trip for your birthday in January?” I immediately dismissed it. He looked at me quizzically, “Why not?” I realized that I had no good reason for not travelling.
Since the thought of spending so much money on myself seemed exorbitant, I set a limit on the amount I would spend and told the LORD, ‘If you want me to go, give me a flight deal less than $_______.’ Even with these lingering feelings of guilt God blessed me with a cheaper flight than expected and arranged the times my friends in the UK could see me. Before I knew it, I had booked an adventure just for my pleasure. I couldn’t believe it.
What astounded me was that everywhere I went and everyone I spoke to, including my flight mates, were either encouraged by me or encouraging me with spiritual advice. Conversations about the LORD, Church, and Christian life abounded as I adventured.
Upon reflection, the LORD spoke to me: ‘Heidi, you don’t have to be on a mission’s trip to be on mission.’ Delights such as reconnecting with old friends, sight-seeing, or summiting an alp don’t have to be separate from ministry.
We know we are ministers everywhere we go, carrying the Holy Spirit within us, but it’s freeing to realize that we can indulge some of our desires and enjoy an adventure without the explicit intent to evangelize or serve. God is always working in and through us if we are sensitive to His leading.
Let God bless you so that you can better bless those you encounter. God wants to give us an abundant life. Like Abraham, God blesses us to be a blessing (Gen. 12:1-3). We can enjoy the good things He presents us with and sacrificially serve others. There is no more sacred and secular division – the curtain was torn. All of life is now holy ground. Enjoy the mission every moment.
***Post note: We who know and love Heidi rejoice with her that God gave her this wonderful trip, knowing that global shutdown was awaiting all of us! Perhaps your January was filled with final “out and about” blessings too! "Thank you Jesus, for every good gift and perfect gift you provide for us as your children!" ***