With Jesus, family vacations are full of blessings and memories.
Matthew J. Plocher
The summer of 1984 was an epic vacation year for my family. We drove with two other families from Saginaw, Michigan, to California—5 adults and 18 children in two suburbans and a van, towing a camper. We stayed in campgrounds and cabins along the way, ending our vacation by overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
For my family, it was an escape. My father had been sick for years, finally dying that February. We were getting away from doctor’s visits, ambulances, medications, hospitalizations, nursing homes, and, finally, a funeral home and cemetery. While it was a difficult journey, Jesus, our Savior and our Lord, walked every step with us.
We had the time of our lives on that vacation. But the trip presented some difficulties as well. While the sights were fantastic—from Mt. Rushmore to Wall Drug, from the Great Salt Lake to sunsets over a Pacific beach—there were trials too. We experienced vehicle breakdowns, mosquito swarms, snowstorms, and flooding rainstorms. In addition, a newly single mom and her six boys struggled with the thought of moving ahead in life without a husband and without a father. Thank the Lord we took Jesus with us on that trip.
Even though we were on vacation, the route was planned around Sunday services. The first Sunday we pulled into the parking lot of a hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming, at 2 A.M., in a torrential rainstorm. Our original campground was flooded out, so we packed up and drove the few hours to Cheyenne. All the hotels in town were full with construction crews, so we slept in a hotel parking lot in our vehicles. At church, the pastor and congregation members arrived to find a caravan in their parking lot, with sleeping bags, clothes, and tents hung on fences and side mirrors to dry. We changed clothes in the church then went in to worship our Lord.
The next Sunday we attended a mission congregation in California. We were late getting to the storefront location and came in during the Scripture readings, right before the sermon. The 18 or so in attendance set up 23 chairs for the late-arriving guests, and then they restarted their service from the beginning. They were so grateful to worship their Lord in a full church with cramped, shoulder-to-shoulder seating. The music swelled as additional voices boomed out hymns of praise and adoration to God in gratitude for his saving grace.
Even though we were on vacation, we weren’t on vacation from God. After all, we had watched Jesus our Savior fulfill his promise of salvation and take my father to be with him in heaven. We had also watched Jesus our Lord fulfill his promise of always being with us as he took care of a new widow and her six boys.
How could we skip church? After all, we served a God who “made [mankind] a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5), then watched that jewel of his creation turn his back on God and fall into sin. This same loving God knew that all people were utterly and completely lost. But this great God that we serve, out of his great love, became a man like us in order to pay a terrible price for our salvation. He turned death from a punishment into a gateway, a gateway through which we can enter to live as his children in full joy and perfect peace. Forever.
Vacation from God? Never.
Matthew Plocher is a member at Grace, St. Joseph, Michigan.
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Author: Matthew J. Plocher
Volume 101, Number 8
Issue: August 2014
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