Summer Dreams (and Spring, Winter, Fall...)


We took our kids on a major road trip earlier this summer, meeting my parents in Denver and driving through Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho to visit family in Washington state, then through Utah. Along the way we hit three National Parks and saw enough bison for my 7-year-old to claim he couldn't handle seeing any more. 

It was an amazing time of seeing God's creation and enjoying one another. We sang hymns while driving into the Tetons and through Arches National Park, we had a backyard soccer championship, we hiked, swam, and worshiped. It was wonderful.

And yet, we hadn't been home long before I started plotting out the next vacation I want to go on. I generally have plans for at least two or three going on in my mind at the same time.

Last week, I was reading Elisabeth Elliot's biography of Amy Carmichael, British missionary to India. Amy was a spitfire, passionate for the gospel to go forth and willing to be spent for Christ's sake. I made note after note, underlining so many powerful, convicting, joy-inspiring things. But one short line stood out and has taken up residence in my mind and heart this week.

Elliot describes the habit British and other foreigners had of retreating from the intense Indian heat to the cooler mountains for a couple of months each summer. Carmichael hated to leave the people she was working with, but went because she had no other option at the time. Elliot writes:

Amy, interested more in vocation than vacation, had taken along her helper, dear old Saral....This was a new departure. A British resort, remote from the sizzling plains three thousand feet below, was designed to provide refuge not only from the plains’ flies and smells and heat, but from its hordes of the poor and the ignorant. It was, above all things, freedom from contact with any Indians of any station whatever that most Britishers prized. This, to Amy, was a freedom earnestly to be avoided. ‘My Missie is as my child to my heart,’ Saral said, and Amy refused to be separated from her.
— A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot

That first phrase hit me hard: "interested more in vocation than vacation."

I'm convicted that could not be said of me. I'm frequently tempted to view my day-to-day life as the necessary stuff between the fun life of vacation and travel. It's a sign of privilege, I realize, to even be able to think such things. It's something I have to confess over and over, asking God to give me joy and contentment where I am. But I haven't thought of it in terms of vocation over vacation.

This has given me joy in owning the vocation the Lord has given me. I'm a wife, mom, neighbor, writer, babysitter, worship leader... Choosing each day to claim my vocation with joy and purpose has freed me to see this day as vital even in its normalcy. Vacations are, as C.S. Lewis wrote, "pleasant inns" along our journey. But they're not the journey itself, nor the destination.

I realize not everyone struggles with this. For many people, the opposite is true. A trust in self demands that some people are always "on," always working, unwilling to take a break and trust the Lord will provide. Obviously this is not the right response to laziness or wishful thinking for more vacation days. 

But a right view of our calling to love God, love others, and make disciples can inspire us to see this day right here, whether at home, work, the beach, the hospital, or anywhere else, as an opportunity to watch God work and use us for His glory. Amy's viewpoint has challenged and inspired me this week, and I hope it does the same for you!