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John Piper’s 4 Foundations for “a Theology of Vacations”

Here is number three, the third foundational idea to point toward rest and vacation. Work is good and it is not a curse. But it is redeemed. So we must work the works of him while it is day. Jesus called for work and we ought to work. And Paul said: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. And I love this verse in 1 Corinthians 15. Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. That means be doing a lot of it, abounding in the work of the Lord. And Paul said: Don’t be weary in doing good. So here is the rub. How do you not grow weary? I mean, he says: Don’t grow weary in doing good. But we get physically depleted, we get mentally depleted, which raises then the question of vacations, and here is the last thing I would say.

Here is the fourth foundational thing. God’s Son took special times to rest from labor. Mark 6:31. He said to them: Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while. It is interesting that he said that right after these brothers buried the chopped off head of John the Baptist, which meant probably not only did you risk your lives to go get that head or the body, at least. I don’t know which they buried. They got his body. They buried it. You risked your lives. This has been a high stress time for you. So come away and rest a while.

So my summary would be: It seems that the issue of vacations becomes a matter of wisdom. We should try to know ourselves, know our families. It seems to me in this fallen age where the focus is on redemption, the final rest that we are promised is only tasted incrementally and as a means of more productive labor in this redemptive age. Play and recreation in this age is not the main way we glorify God. It is secondary, I think, and it is a means of refreshing us and inspiring us for productive labor. We work to advance God’s saving kingdom in a fallen world and that is true whether we are in secular work or so called Christian work. Vacations and sabbaths and days off and nights of sleep are recreations of creative, happy, fruitful labor for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom in the world, whether you are in a secular work or not. And, of course, there is no clear line—I feel this especially—for many of us between vocation and recreation. Many of us so love what we do and find so much pleasure in it and are so energized by it that the concept of taking time for recreation for the sake of creation is not so clear. For those folks, us, we need to make sure that we know not only ourselves, but we need to know those around us. Because our wives may not feel the same and our kids may need us when we are just super energized by our reading or our study. And that is not what they need at this time, and vacation can count for them as well as for us.

Thank you, Pastor John! And speaking of dads leading their families well, I’ll take every opportunity I can find to remind listeners of the episode we recorded back in January titled: “Dad’s Role in Homemaking,” episode #255. You can find that in the iPhone app—and soon the entire archive will be available in the Android app as well. Tomorrow we will talk more about a father’s leadership over his family; specifically, how does a dad best serve his family on a family vacation? I’m your host, Tony Reinke, see you tomorrow on the Ask Pastor John podcast.