Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Taking a Vacation from God

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
 if I settle on the far side of the sea, 
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
~ Psalm 139:7-10, NIV~

Oh, how I needed to get away!  I still hadn't recovered from my son's spring hospitalization.  In fact, I still hadn't recovered from my father's sudden death last year.  The pressures of life, coming at me from every side, were more than I could continue carrying.  Only setting down my heavy pack for awhile, pulling apart from the current ongoing demands that included care of an elderly mother's affairs, would restore me.  With tremendous gratitude, I packed the family for our long weekend at our tiny trailer retreat two miles north of home.

The girls each wanted to bring a friend.  I can't recall the last time my eldest daughter brought a friend home who was anything other than delightful.  I always treasure time with her and the teenage peers she values.  And my youngest pleasantly surprised us by asking that a female classmate be her guest.  With her assorted diagnoses and high energy level, she tends to avoid the girls at school who relentlessly demean her.  She seems to find more acceptance hanging out with the boys, enjoying sports.  Still, as she nears puberty, that separation between boys and girls makes these social conundrums a bit more concerning.  I would be a complete fool not to allow her to bring a little girl with her in the face of such challenges.

With plans made and great mirth abounding from the kids, I pictured in my mind that much needed getaway beckoning me.  Last minute food preparation and packing were compressed into a few hours before we hit the road.  The kids were content with their companions.  The car ride was simple.  The weather was delightful.  The joy reached a crescendo when we arrived and our guests saw with their own eyes the place that their friends spoke so highly of.

But scenes like this are the stuff of our dreams and not reality.  It didn't take long for the social deficits our youngest struggles with to be challenged.  The guest quickly became bossy and demanding.  I watched my daughter shrink in sad disappointment, not possessing the ability to deal with such interactions in an appropriate way.  And my heart sank as I watched my weekend of renewal slip away from me like sand through the fingers of a child on the beach.  The remainder of my time away from home would be spent serving as a buffer for my young daughter while also walking her through the nuances of social skills necessary for dealing with difficult people and situations.

It was easy for me to turn inward.  I had been ripped off!  My weekend was no longer my own.  Surely God couldn't expect me to spend time at His feet when I had everything else unexpectedly pushing and pulling at me.  My husband got to relax.  But I remained on duty, cooking meals, never being able to let my guard down with the children.  My mother's demanding phone call followed me north to my wooded escape.  I was so exhausted, I just couldn't edge out that early time, sitting alone on the deck, hearing the whooshed worship of the Creator flowing through the pines.  There was no alone time, so I took a vacation from God.  I was barely awake in the morning before the noisy voices of children were echoing through our campsite.  With that distraction, how could I be expected to absorb His word?  I descended into my own selfishness, indulging in food and drink, letting my crankiness have free reign.

But arriving home after the discouraging trip, I quickly discovered that a vacation from God was no vacation at all.  My problems were bigger than I had left them.  Two pieces of mail bearing bad news that would have otherwise rolled off of me suddenly brought me to tears.  The overwhelm of not knowing where or how to begin again overtook me.  And my mother's nagging message still awaited me.

What a fool I had been, turning disappointment into disaster by pulling away from the very One who is my Burden Bearer!  I could have spoken to Him in the problems.  I could have received His refreshment in spite of my circumstances.  A small amount of extra effort on my part would have yielded the restoration I sought.

My Holy Spirit prayer is that I not make that same ignorant error again.  I pray that you are offered a lesson from my foolishness.  He is everywhere you are, and cares deeply about your every concern.  Don't leave home without Him!

Pray:  Oh, God of all, pulling apart from You only makes me come apart.  When life gets to be too much, no matter where I am, remind me to fall into Your arms.

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