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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How To Enjoy A Vacation — And Not Feel Empty When It’s Over

The problem

Jan and I just got back from a 3-week vacation seeing family and celebrating 35 years of marriage.

It was the best vacation we’ve ever had.

But that creates a problem.

Have you ever had such a great time on vacation that you felt empty when you came back?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love San Jose and Mercy Hill Church and what God is doing in and through us.

But still, vacation is vacation — seeing new sights, exploring new places, and lots of time just being together.

So before we left I thought about how faith in Jesus Christ would help me come back from vacation feeling — not empty — but thankful, refreshed, and envisioned.

So here’s what I sought to do —

Before leaving

As the time for the vacation drew near it was natural and right to feel growing excitement.

But as wonderful as a vacation might be — it is nowhere near as satisfying as Jesus Christ.

So in the weeks before leaving, I sought to obey 1 Peter 1:13 —

Therefore … set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Not that I felt no hope or excitement about the upcoming vacation.

But I fought — with prayer and God’s Word — to see and feel that Jesus Christ is infinitely more exciting.

This was crucial because the more my hope was in the vacation — the more empty I’d be when it was over.

I wasn’t always successful.  But mostly my hope was fully set on Jesus Christ.

During the vacation

God gave us many wonderful gifts during the vacation —

  • time with our daughter Anna, whom we hadn’t seen for over a year
  • meeting Jan’s brother and sister-in-law at the Grand Canyon
  • a 2-hour mountain bike ride in the beauty of Sedona, AZ
  • a sweet prayer time with my parents
  • being at the North Bridge in Concord where the Revolutionary War began
  • a spectacular ferry ride to Vinalhaven Island off the Maine coast

But good gifts can distract us from Jesus Christ.

So what am I supposed to do — try NOT to enjoy these gifts?

No.  What helped was Psa 43:4, which describes God as “the joy of our joys” (in the Hebrew).

I remember hearing John Piper say this means that the ultimate joy of every joy is seeing God’s goodness in that joy.

So throughout the vacation, I sought to enjoy each gift — AND let every gift point me to God Himself.

Again, this was crucial because if my heart was focused only on the vacation-gifts — I’d be empty when the vacation was over.

But if every vacation-gift pointed me to God — I’d be all the more filled when the vacation was over.

Towards the end of the vacation

On one of our last nights Jan and I walked to take a picture of the “Welcome to Mystic, CT” sign.

I wanted to help us both transition well back to San Jose, so as we walked I asked — “What promises does God give that will help us return full and not empty?”

We had a great discussion — and here’s what we came up with —

Phil 4:19 — “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” — so He would supply all the grace we need as we headed back.

Psa 16:11 — “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” — so we can be just as filled with joy in returning from vacation as we were in being on vacation.

Jer 29:11 — “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare … to give you a future and a hope” — so God has a great Fall planned for us.

God used these promises to alleviate concerns, set our hearts even more fully on Him, and stir excitement about returning to San Jose.

Thoughts?  Feedback?  Comments?

I’d love to hear them — leave a reply below.  Thanks!

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Category: Stories from My Life

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8 Responses

  1. Brandon says:

    So great to hear of your victory in seeking Jesus over lesser joys, brother. He is glorious!

  2. Dave S says:

    Thanks for the faithful thoughts Steve. Won’t it be amazing “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him” any possession we may have missed here will pale by comparison. Just the thought strengthens my heart.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Good to hear from you, Dave. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. And I agree — seeing Him will infinitely compensate for any losses in this life. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

  3. De Cody says:

    Thank You for these verses. We are preparing for a very special trip in a few days and right now I am feeling excited, thankful, and blessed. However I am also feeling convicted since we know that the money we choose to spend is not ours and comes from God. There are so many hurting around us, friends we know and friends we dont. I can “justify” the trip by pulling verses out of context, but I dont want to do that. I just want to give the trip to God so that as you say we come back full of God and not empty on the world. That others can see Jesus through us and that we can share our trip in a non-prideful way. I am so thankful and blessed… I dont want satan to hook me with doubt and take my gaze off of Christ. I also dont want me to get in the way. Please keep us in your prayers. Pray that we see how we can glorify God on our trip, strengthen our family, teach our children and walk this life accordingly.

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