11 08 2020

take a vacation....from your problems !


I love the classic Bill Murray Movie, “What About Bob.” In it, Bill Murray plays Bob Wiley, a deeply disturbed, neurotic and manipulative man who has a habit of clinging onto his therapists. His last Overseer, not being able to last another minute with him, refers Wiley to an egotistical Psychiatrist named Leo Marvin who is played to perfection by Academy Award winning Actor, Richard Dreyfuss. After only one session together, Dr. Marvin is off with his family for an extended time away in Lake Winnipesauke.

Leo Marvin has just written a Book entitled, “Baby Steps,” and is anticipating being interviewed soon on Good Morning America. Bob uses whatever means necessary to get the location of where Dr. Marvin is off to and the hysterics begin when he finally does find his trusted Counselor and intends to never leaves his side. When the unstable Bob befriends the other members of Dr. Leo’s family, it pushes the good Doctor over the edge. When Bob Wiley gets off the bus in New Hampshire, Dr. Leo does try to get rid of his newly discovered nuisance by writing out a very clear and specific prescription. The medicine involves no drugs but simply a mental exercise that allows the mind to take a break. What Bob needed to do was to “Take A Vacation from His Problems.”

Every time I look to take some days off, I declare to my Family, “I’m on a vacation from my problems.” I was hoping that to be the case last week. How wrong I was when my whole experience included one problem after another! The origins of the word “vacation” go back to the Latin root vacate, which means “to be empty.”

A true vacation involves emptying ourselves, freeing ourselves from the details of our daily grinds. I would propose that this goal might just be impossible to accomplish this side of Heaven. The more I tried to get away, the more I failed to find that place of real rest. I don’t think that “vacation,” can be discovered in a place as much as it happens by emptying our unreasonable expectations to a Person who offers us rest in the middle of chaos.

While I try going, God keeps coming to my side at just the right moment to offer His peace as an inside work in spite of outside turmoil. Is it possible to humble ourselves to the practical but powerful premise that if I long to discover any remnant of paradise this side of Glory, I must surrender my agenda to His perfect will? If there is going to be less of me that allows for more of Him, the work that must be avoided is my hands getting in the way of what my Lord longs to accomplish.

Let me try my best to give you a shortened recap of my so-called time away last week. Tuesday we all battled a Tropical Storm that proved to be much more annoying than we were first instructed. Like many others, our power went out in the early morning and when that happened, we were without water and use of the facilities. At my age, I am frequent visitor to the bathroom so this was not going to be an easy fix. Like many other times, I went to the Lighthouse Church to crash and live until the lights went back on again. In a time when many have found themselves working from home, I was not “homing from work!”

I have observed many an attendee taking a snooze during a sermon here and there so I knew that sleeping at church was not that difficult. The power stayed out on Wednesday and I had previously booked a parasailing adventure for my daughter Leah and I in Ocean City, so off we went in spite of the fact that I hadn’t slept that well the night before. The waiting for the challenge to begin would be the happiest moment of our parasailing experience! My poor Daughter! Even after taking Dramamine, I got so seasick on the boat as we crossed over from the Bay to the Ocean that by the time we were flying, so was everything in my stomach. I threw up time and time again at 500 feet in the sky!

It didn’t end in the air. When I got back down, there were still three more pairs of parasailers to go and I held my barf bag close to my heart. I felt like I was in Hell! I never wanted something to end so badly. If vacation meant to empty myself, let’s just say that I let it all hang out!

The power was still out through the day on Thursday. I was still camping out at the church. I wanted to feel sorry for myself, but battled through it choosing to just be grateful I was on solid ground once again. When we did go back home late Thursday night, our refrigerator was vacationing because it was empty! I was still hoping to salvage the last few days being officially not at work. In searching for the proverbial “Silver Lining,” I told the Lord that I would settle for some appropriate gift sent from Heaven in aluminum foil, but Saturday turned out to be no better. Because I normally preach four Services every weekend at the Lighthouse, I miss many of my Son’s baseball games, but because I was on vacation, I could actually see him play this day. But while I was on my way to Joel’s baseball game up in Riverside NJ, when I stopped to get a Wawa coffee, I proceeded to spill all 24 hot ounces all over me! It was wet, hot and incredible sticky! I burned my legs and soaked my clothes. I had to turn around and go home to change. I never made it to see Joel play and once again, my heart ached and my soul felt null and void.

To cheer myself up, after I put on dry clothes, I went out to a Hallmark Store to see the new Christmas ornaments for the first time in person. I had a question about one of them and when I went looking for assistance, the Clerk took it upon herself to humiliate me publicly for not wearing my mask properly! I tried to tell her that because of my severe sinus issues, I can’t breathe with both my nose and mouth covered. She proceeded to heap more shame upon me and already feeling rejected, I went quickly for the door. Please family and friends, take the time to be sympathetic with others before you beat them up!

As I drove home, I looked up again for any sign of acceptance and approval. God filled my aching spirit with these life-giving words. “Kindness… Caring… Compassion… Grace and Mercy… Patience… Understanding… Love… Positivity… Not judgmental… Not self-righteous… Not superiority… Not prejudiced… Not holier than thou… Let us lead with life! Let us listen seeking light! Let us be those who make a difference!” I couldn’t take a vacation from my problems because our world is filled with them. But I could empty myself of me so there would be more of Jesus to see. I’m going back to work again. Hey, I know there’s power in the place and I am not just talking about electricity.

The same Holy Spirit who allowed Jesus to vacate the tomb is there to lead us in leaving our desires behind so we can dream a new destiny that won’t end in defeat but victory in Jesus. If the ultimate result of the word “vacation,” is to be free, then I can report that God did some necessary refinements in my heart last week. I can’t need this world to be enough because it never will become that. But a relationship that walks with the Lord no matter what, no matter where and no matter when, well, that’s a whole new ballgame. Some glad morning, when this life is over, I’ll fly away and when that time comes, it won’t be Hell. It will be the open door to Heaven!



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