Advent: December 10th – Vacation Renewal

By: Regina Heagle

“By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a purer, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.”  Thomas Merton

Merriam Webster dictionary defines vacation as “a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation; or a respite or a time of respite from something.”  I know I am thankful for vacations!  I always come back refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes my way.

We recently went to the beach, which is my favorite place.  Sitting in the sun and listening to the sound of the waves seems to make the sky bluer, the trees greener and Gods creation more beautiful.  Something else I’ve noticed is the shoreline never remains the same.  The sand at the edge of the water is constantly revolving, turned over by the waves that lap at it, renewing the top layer. We don’t come back from vacation the same. We come back renewed.   

In Luke, Chapter 1, Mary takes a “vacation”.  The Angel had just visited her with big news.  She was about to conceive and give birth to the Savior of the world.  Upon hearing the additional news that her relative Elizabeth is also going to give birth to a son by way of a miracle of God, she hurries to go to Elizabeth.  Perhaps Mary needed recreation. Perhaps she needed a respite to process all that she had been told. Perhaps she needed reaffirmation of this miracle from God. Or perhaps she needed someone to relate to and knew no one but Elizabeth would believe all she had been told because Elizabeth was going through a similar situation.

Nevertheless, Mary doesn’t waste any time and leaves right away.  When she arrives, her journey does not disappoint.  In Luke 1:41-42, we are told, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Mary’s vacation had an effect on Elizabeth, as well as on Elizabeth’s unborn baby.  Mary brought with her the presence of Christ, and the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth and caused change – a renewal of joy.  Luke 1:57 tells us: “When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son.  Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

We aren’t told of all that happens while Mary is with Elizabeth, but I believe she too came back changed.  Luke 1:46-49 “And Mary said: and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name.  She may have gone to Elizabeth not quite understanding all that was about to happen, but both Mary and Elizabeth took time to rejoice and praise God for all he has done, and their time together brought joy and renewed them both.   

The Lord wants to renew you too.  Renewal doesn’t require a vacation to an exotic place, or a miraculous conception.  Jesus came to provide renewal to each of us, and it’s there for the taking if we allow our lives to be affected like the waves turn the sand on the shoreline.  Renewal can come if we allow the quiet moments of the day to refresh us, as we do on the beach; if we take time to rejoice in God and praise Him, as Elizabeth and Mary did; if we rest in the fact that He is mindful of us – He knows us and loves us; and if we remember that He does great things for us, that He sent His Son into the world to save us.

Parents:  Spend 2 minutes sitting quietly with your children.  Next, spend 2 minutes praising God with your children just for who He is.  Then, spend 2 minutes having your children share something He has done for them recently.  Allow this 6 minutes to renew and refresh your family as you reflect on God’s goodness.

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