Vacations are supposed to be time to retool, recharge, let go, and refocus. We are supposed to come back better people, more ready than ever to face life’s challenges. We dream of sitting, playing, laughing, and loving. We pour energy and money into an attempt to get away from it all to let our pent-up, built-up stress drift way into the sunset.
Jesus has some wisdom for all of us vacationers, and the wisdom has a bonus. It does not apply just to vacations. We can use every day, but it might be easier to reflect upon and implement while we are on vacation so we can return with a new attitude for dealing with stress, worry, and anxiety.
Jesus invites us to let the worry slip away by:
Recognizing that God gave us life.
If God gave us our very life then surely we can trust Him with the lesser things in life like our job demands, relational worries, food, clothing, and health. God does not promise that life will be perfect or that our circumstance will be miraculously changed, but God does promise strength to bear any situation and eternal life that is free from the concerns of this world.
Take a moment to thank God for your life. Not your circumstance, but the very fact that you are alive with the freedom to breathe, love, laugh, feel, sense, and decide for yourself.
Pointing to the carefree life of birds.
Birds make no attempt to pile up goods for an unforeseen and unforeseeable future, but their lives go on. They sing, play, fly, build nests, collect food, and lay eggs. Birds are fully alive. Birds do work hard, but they do not worry; they do not find their security in things stored up for the future but in God’s provision for each day.
Take a moment to watch a bird. Ask God to give you the same level of trust and levity for the day.
Declaring that anxious worry is useless.
What good is worry, anyway? Does it actually do anything? Jesus says, “No.” Worry is useless. It can’t add a single inch to our body, take a single pimple off our face, or increase a day by a single second.
Take a moment to reflect on the effects of worry. Does worry really change anything, or does it just cover you with the weight of uncontrollable circumstances? Does worry actually hinder your ability to work for positive change in your life and others?
Lifting up God’s creativity in nature.
If God clothes a flower that is here today and gone tomorrow in amazing beauty, then won’t He also clothe you, His most precious creation, in beauty? Flowers surpass almost all things in terms of sheer beauty. The vibrancy of their colors, shapes, and smells are stunning. God created them, and He called them good. When he created you, He called you “very good!"
Take a moment to find a flower. Reflect on how you are different from a flower and how you are similar to a flower. Thank God for creating you with unique gifts, special talents, and a distinctive outward appearance.
Illustrating God’s character.
Jesus tells us that worry is characteristic of someone who does not know or understand the God who created them. As our trust in God goes down, our anxiety about life goes up. We can practice Y.O.L.O. (you only live once) in light of God’s presence and His plan that leads to ultimate satisfaction, peace, and eternal life, or we can practice Y.O.L.O., separated from God’s presence, anxiously watching each moment tick away as our dreams of wealth, power, privilege, vacation, sexual experiences, and opportunities slip away into an irreparable abyss of broken dreams never to return.
Take a moment to reflect on Y.O.L.O. Do you spend most of your waking moments thinking about what you want out of life, or do you pause to ask what you were really created for? Ask God to help you see yourself accurately.
Take a few moments while you are on vacation to read Matthew 6:25-34, and reflect and pray upon the points above. Learn some new worry habits before you return!