Finding rest and relaxation

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By Marcia Smith, Lt. Colonel – 

Can you believe that fall is here, that we have rushed through summer and are ready to hit this next season? As I write this, I am thinking about the kids who are now back at school, back into a routine. The roads will have less impact from travel trailers and vehicles packed to the gills with exciting summer travel plans. Summer vacation is over.

We love our vacation time in the summer. I am fortunate to have a family cabin in the mountains of Oregon where I have spent time every summer since my parents purchased it in 1972. My husband, Steve, loves this place too, and we brought our kids there every year, even before the electricity came in. My parents wanted a place that would be a getaway for the family. And after all these years, it is also becoming a getaway location for the grandchildren and now the great-grandchildren of my parents. It is a place of peace and quiet, of family and rest. After throwing in the occasional building project, it is a cabin we can be proud of, and it holds great memories and lots of love.

A vacation is defined as a period of rest from work. I have heard about the effects of vacation on a person, some saying that the restful effects are gone after only a day and a half. A Gallup poll found that only 6 in 10 Americans took a vacation in 2017. Some might say they couldn’t take their vacation because they can’t be gone from work.  Some would not know how to actually stop and rest.

As the Harvard Business Review asked: Are you okay with doing nothing? Are we too seeped in a productivity culture to value doing nothing? Vacation time equals critical recovery time that our bodies and brains need, but with technology today, some may find it too difficult to give that up and just stop.

In another article, I read about a study conducted on 94 subjects. They were given a luxury vacation and monitored during the vacation. Half of the subjects were asked to spend time each day in meditation. After the study (vacation) was completed, a test was done to look at the 20,000 genes contained in one’s DNA, to see which genes were affected after the vacation. Researchers discovered the biggest differences in the genes that work to strengthen the immune system and help a person deal with stress. The longest lasting effects of the vacation were seen in those who were able to establish a pattern of meditation after returning from their vacation. The study found that our bodies need time every day to recover and rejuvenate from the daily grind we all face.

The word meditation is sometimes given a bad rap. However, it is defined as “to muse over, contemplate, ponder.” What if we took a lesson from this study and realized that if we were to meditate, contemplate and ponder on God’s Word every day, we could find a way to have rest and relaxation from all that we encounter during our day? If we were to read and meditate on Scripture, quietly allowing God to speak to us, this would be a way to find rest.  

It is vital as a Christian to find time to talk to God, to take in his words, and to pour out our hearts. This could be a way to lengthen the effects of a vacation, long term. And we wouldn’t have a great heap of laundry waiting for us after returning home.

As Psalm 62:1-2 says: Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.  Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

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