One of the questions I have found myself asking lately to my friends, neighbors and colleagues is, “Where are you going on vacation this summer?” A lot of the responses I have received go like this: “Gotta beat the heat, we’re headed to Newport Beach,” or “It’s our year to go to Hawaii!” No matter where you go this summer on vacation, ask yourself, “How can my summer vacation be a chance to grow in my faith?”
For me, as a Christian, I believe that God speaks today through His Word called the Bible. I take my advice from this authoritative book, and its advice even affects my outlook on how my family and I will live out our summer vacation schedule. Hear a Word from God to his chosen people Israel through the mouth of His prophet Moses as they vacation through the Middle Eastern desert for 40 years (4 Hear, O Israel): The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (NIV).
On one road trip my family took when I was young included my dad challenging my brother and I to align one side of our colorful Rubik’s Cube with the color red as we drove through Mississippi. The son that completed the task the fastest would be the winner of a $5 bill. After getting frustrated after a few minutes of trying to align one side’s tiles with the color red, I began to pick apart each and every colored tile from the cube in order to place all of the red tiles on one side. Within the hour, my poor fingernails were practically bleeding from scratching off plastic tiles, and my parents caught me “red” handed. Looking back on the conversation that proceeded, I thank God that my dad and mom had a talk with me about cheating, and obeying authority for at least the next 40 miles. Besides telling me that cheating was wrong, they also used this teachable moment to talk about how both God will always love me. And that they will, too. And they listened to what I had to share.
My summer road trip memories remind me through God’s Word that vacations can be used as opportunities to grow in faith. On your trips this summer:
Chat about Jesus. When you are passing the time with games, books and video games, remember to take time to put everything away and just talk about Jesus. Ask questions to everyone in the car like: “Why do you think God in Christ made those beautiful mountains that we are seeing right now in southern Utah?” or “Why do you think God loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to save us from our sins? And chat about Jesus when he presents opportunities in hotels, airplanes and diners by sharing your personal testimony of faith with others.
Chill out by listening to others. Most fathers and mothers do not spend nearly enough time during their week having conversations with their children. Use the car ride as an opportunity to ask open-ended questions about different subjects the people in the car enjoy talking about. Then, sit back, drive and listen. Listening is a great way to show a child or spouse you love them. Enjoy the stories of those who live in a different part of the world. One way to love them with the love of Jesus is to listen to their life story (James 1:19).
Have a conversation with Jesus. Out of all the conversations you will have this summer, the one you are able to have with God through prayer could be the most impactful. Use this time to tell him anything and everything. For some of you, it’s a chance to re-connect with your Savior, Jesus Christ. Others of you will need to learn that nothing fancy has to be said, it’s just like talking to a friend. Some of you won’t know what to pray. Topics to pray might include: that all might hear about Jesus, His resurrection and His grace; blessings for those you see passing you by in other cars; victims of crashes along the road; your church back home; or those living in our world without clean drinking water.
Enjoy your vacation as you grow in your faith through chatting about Jesus, chilling out with listening ears and conversing with Jesus!
• Jake Boessling is a student pastor at Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Church in Gilbert, 425 S. Greenfield Road. He has been with Christ’s Greenfield for nine years focusing on missions to the community and beyond.