Recently it seems like it’s taken me longer to prepare sermons, chapters, and articles; and I’ve wondered what’s wrong. Last night writing in my journal I realized I am tired—but not physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Just mentally or intellectually (and I have very little intellect to spare!) My mind needs a little break. So next week my son-in-law, Ethan, and I are taking ten days to backpack in Central Europe, from Prague to Budapest. In packing my backpack, I’ve taken more out than I’ve put in, and I’ve established some little rules for myself. I’m going to pass them along since many of you will be taking a summer break, too.
- Carefully select your reading and devotional material for the trip. You want your time away to recharge your spiritual and mental batteries, but you don’t want to take too much. I’m probably going to take William Law’s classic A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life to read on the plane and at sidewalk cafes. (I’ve also got a novel on my Kindle and some neat William Lane Craig lectures on my iPod.)
- Carefully select the memory verse you want to work on. While away I’m going to memorize Acts 20:24 from the old Living Bible: “But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.”
- Pack extremely lightly. I’m taking my backpack only half-filled. I can pick up toiletries along the way and rinse out my clothes at night.
- Make a rough sketch of each day’s activities. I’ve studied the route in advance and have a rough idea of what I want to do each day. But I’m staying flexible and plan to see and do what I want along the way.
- Plan for a relaxing return trip. The flight home is always the most dreaded part of the trip for me, so I’ve already put together an activity pack (like you’d do for a child) containing a cooking magazine, my sermon for the following Sunday which I’ll review in flight, and the biography of Desiderius Erasmus I’ve been wanting to read for some time.
- Let everything about the the trip be determined by one question: How can I best return home rested in body and mind? I wish I had 20 days or 30… but I can get a lot of rest in 10 days.
I hope to blog along the way (especially about Jon Huss in Prague), but my point is—plan a restful summer vacation. There’s no need going anywhere if you return home more tired than you left. Even with kids, you can make your trip perform its most important chore—to impart rest. It just takes some planning, a relaxed schedule, and a half-filled backpack.