One of the highlights of this summer was playing tour guide to two sets of cousins visiting our community from Norway. Each group was making the most of their time-off to explore the United States. When I asked how much vacation time they were given each year, I was envious of the response. Five weeks!
It appears that European employers are more generous when it comes to “R and R” than American employers. As one European admits, “We work so that we can go on vacation. You Americans go on vacation so that you can go back and work.”
For Europeans vacations are the end that provides them meaning. For us, time-off is the means to a much more important end. We vacation in order to go back to work. Dr. Gordon Dahl concurs. This sociology professor at UC San Diego claims that we Americans tend to “worship our work, work at our play and play at our worship.”
A damning indictment to be sure! Worshiping our work? Working at our play? No wonder we are a sleep-deprived culture and exhausted most the time. No wonder we return for summer getaways pooped out. It’s no wonder we play at our worship. Our over-inflated view of our professions and productivity has diminished our understanding of God’s provision and blessings.
It’s time we reconsidered the reason for our summer vacations and our need to relax. After all, rest restores our view of reality.
Taking time to rest is nothing new. It’s as old as the “Ancient of Days.” That’s right! Even the Lord Himself, the All-Knowing One, knew it was best to rest from the routines of life. On the first page of the Hebrew Bible we read that God took a break after creating the cosmos in six days.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:2-3 NIV)
The Lord rested from His labor that He might reflect on and celebrate what He had made. Creation led to recreation. Our weekends and vacations are rooted in the Creator’s example. Doing nothing is the most important something we can do. Our recreation recreates!