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Six tips for a holy holiday

Jo Swinney says holidays are an opportunity to refresh our body, mind and spirit

A rhythm of work and rest was God’s design, reflected in the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest we read of in Genesis. But the purpose of Sabbath was not just to cease work, but to worship, feast and rest. Let’s resolve to have holidays that are truly good for us. Here are some ideas …

Let your light shine

We have the Spirit of God within us, so everyone we encounter has a chance to meet Jesus through us. How could we share our faith on holiday? How can we bless those we meet and those that serve us where we’re staying, or when we eat out or on our travels? I’ll never forget the experience of watching my mum spending an eight-hour stopover in Nairobi Airport leading a young woman to faith when I was 11 years old. Let’s keep our eyes open for divine appointments.

Mix up your habits

We can get in a rut with our spiritual practices just as much as in any other area of life. How about taking an audio version of the Bible away with you and listening to it on the journey, or while sunbathing, or on a long cliff walk? Why not try a new way of praying? Could you experiment with silence or keeping a journal, or meditating on one line of the Lord’s Prayer each day?

Pause for thought

When we go away we have the space to reflect on the big picture of who we are and how we spend our days. Could you take a few hours on your next trip to pray and think about the direction you’re headed in? Could this be a chance to figure out whether some changes are needed?

Do something life-affirming

Sometimes we create a vacuum when we stop our regular activities, and the vacuum gets filled by things that aren’t necessarily healthy or helpful. What about using your break to take up something that makes you happy? Could you pack a watercolour set and a sketch pad? What about playing tennis or bodyboarding? I have grown-up friends who like jigsaw puzzles, colouring books and model aircraft kits, and I know children who like birdwatching and chess. Regular life can be too full for playing, so holidays are the perfect opportunity.

Put others first

Holidays can bring out the selfish beast lurking in all of us, especially when we are really ragged and desperate for rest. We can be entirely focused on getting our own needs met, and neglect the needs of everyone else. But this can really backfire because, as study after study has shown, putting others first makes us happy.

Enjoy God’s good creation

Psalm 19: 1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

Holidays are often opportunities to spend more time outside, watching sunsets, stargazing, sitting by expanses of water or lying under a forest canopy. The beauty of creation speaks volumes about its creator and can call a deep response of worship from us. Plan for generous amounts of time to be spent outdoors and thank God for his provision.

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