Vacations always upset the spiritual scaffolding I’ve painstakingly established for myself. This used to scare me. I worried that without my morning Bible study, journaling and prayer time, without my church and my community and spiritual routines, my faith would dissolve like sugar in hot tea.
Over time, though, I’ve realized that’s not exactly the way it works.
I tucked my Bible and journal into my suitcase before we set off for Utah. I had every intention of carving out a quiet time each morning for prayer and reflection. In fact, the hotel grounds offered the perfect spot – a bench about halfway up a small hill dotted with prickly pear and sage, with a view of the rising sun streaking Zion’s formidable canyon walls.
But it didn’t happen. Not a single morning. My Bible stayed in the suitcase, beneath the one pair of jeans I’d brought. I slept in instead.
We also blew off church two Sundays in a row. It never even occurred to us to find a church in Utah. Not only did I neglect to honor the Sabbath, I couldn’t remember what day of the week it was for ten days straight.
As you might know from past blog posts, I take my pledge to honor the Sabbath pretty seriously. So when I realized on the drive home from Utah that I hadn’t given the Sabbath a second thought for two weeks running I grimaced a bit.
But then, I let it go. I didn’t fret about my lack of prayer or Bible study or even the fact that I skipped over the Sabbath, because the truth is, I finally realized that my faith can stand alone, without all the accompanying accoutrement.
Like Jesus told the Pharisees when they accused him of breaking the Sabbath law, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the needs of Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) We practice spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study and honoring the Sabbath not only out of habit and routine, and not just because Jesus suggests we do so, but because of the way they enhance and deepen our relationship with God.
We practice spiritual disciplines not because we have to, but because we want to.
I may not have picked up my Bible, darkened a church doorway or uttered a traditional prayer the whole time I was in Utah, but deep in the canyon, as the frigid water swirled around my ankles and the sun slipped through a sliver in the skyscraping rock walls, I praised our awesome God again and again. Not in words. Not in ritual. Not in any of my regular, everyday ways. But from a place far beyond language, in the very center of my being.
Questions for Reflection:
What spiritual disciplines do you regularly practice? How do you feel when you drop the ball? How does your spiritual life look different when you are on vacation?
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