June 25, 2014It's summer and time for many families to have some days of vacation and a change of pace from the rigors of life. When our four daughters were growing up, each summer we would go away camping in our tent or later, when we really moved up in status, in a "pop-up camper." As we pulled out of our driveway, the girls waited for their dad to shout at the top of his lungs: "WE'RE ON VACATION!" That was the signal of the official start of our family vacation!
So many memories, so many wonderful times! But have you noticed that some of the greatest memories come from times when things didn't go as you planned? On one occasion it rained every day. For three days all six of us were cooped up in the "pop-up" camper. Today, it's one of the favorite memories for the girls. Another time, in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina while sleeping in our tent, the sky lit up in the middle of the night during an electrical storm. The lightning was so bright that it made the night seem like day, and the thunder so quick and loud that it seemed like bombs in a war. Eventually we all rushed inside the van and there we spent the rest of the night, a little nervous, but feeling a lot safer with rubber tires acting as insulators between us, the ground, and a potential bolt of lightning!
If we are not careful, we can live our lives thinking, "Once I get through this challenge, life will be better." Or, "If I only had more time off I could be a better father or mother." One of the problems with that is we can live a lot of our lives waiting for things to get better; yet, when that time gets here, it doesn't turn out as nicely as we imagined it would. A lot of vacations can be like that.
Something that has helped me with this kind of thinking is learning to trust God for the moments in my life, even the disappointments, unexpected change of plans and, sometimes, tragedies. Truthfully, I continue to learn this and sometimes I do better than others. A biblical principle that is not always easy to apply is learning by God's grace to "buy up the moments."
What does that look like? It means learning to live with this moment as a gift from God. Even if life seems to be falling apart, this is a moment God has given to me for now. In the Bible, we are encouraged with these words: "Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time (literally—'redeeming the time'), because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16).
For example, when work demands so much from us and takes us away from our family more than we want, instead of wasting the moments fretting about what we don't have with them, we will make the most of the time with them, although it may be brief. We will buy up that moment. Sometimes the struggle with finances keeps us from doing what we think will be fulfilling in life. Instead of fretting about what we can't do, may we seek the Lord to help us use that moment to be grateful for what we have been blessed with.
So, if I am blessed with a vacation, Lord, help me to buy up the moments and give thanks. If a vacation is not possible for whatever reason, Lord, you have blessed me with the gift of this moment. Help me to know how to redeem it for your glory and my good.
Lead Pastor of Valley Center Community Church