Going on vacation doesn’t mean you leave stewardship issues at home. If anything, vacation time means facing even more decisions about use of one’s resources and care of God’s good creation. Does one fly and purchase carbon offsets, take a train, or drive and cry at the rising cost of gas? Does one stay with relatives and friends or book a hotel? Does the concept of vacation mean Disney World or Europe? Skiing in the Rockies or tanning on an island beach? Four star hotels and Egyptian cotton sheets or couch surfing and a sleeping bag?
The list of considerations could go on and on. Simply making the decision to take a vacation is an act of stewardship because we all need to take time to recharge our batteries, to relax, and to enjoy a change of pace.
I have to admit that I’m among the world’s worst when it comes to vacations. First of all, it’s hard to leave home because it means finding pet care for two dogs, a cat, and a hamster. Add to that securing a pastor to be “on call” for the parish and planning worship coverage. Then there’s the whole vacation budget issue and the packing and the preparations to leave and the “to-do list that never gets done.” Most times I find myself exhausted before I even pull out of the driveway. It often feels like more trouble than it’s worth.
Nevertheless, here I sit–on vacation–pecking away on my daughter’s laptop in my cousin’s kitchen in the quiet late-night hours. We enjoyed a delightful supper with family and friends that included not only good food and conversation but also plenty of laughter and relaxation. It’s been good to reconnect in more meaningful ways than a Christmas card or e-mail. It’s been wonderful to share memories and to celebrate my mother’s eightieth birthday. And yes, it’s been good simply to take a few days and rest from my usual routine, to feel the stress washing away.
I even had that rare and delightful experience of being able to worship and hear a sermon instead of deliver one. In an even more ironic twist of fate, the preacher’s subject was stewardship!
Has the vacation been perfect? Of course not. There have been moments, like having the car rental process bog down at the end of a long day of travel and leaving my daughter’s camera in the car in Minneapolis. She, being a typical teenager, thought it would be an excellent idea to replace it with a new one to the tune of $175. I, being the party pooper mother and conservator of family resources, decided pretty quickly that this suggestion was neither excellent nor prudent and have since faced the full fury of her consumer-oriented wrath. We did manage an acceptable compromise in the form of a $3.50 disposable Polaroid camera.
Other “teachable moments” have come in the form of saying no to a shopping excursion at the region’s largest mall and explaining the many reasons why I’d rather rent a Ford Focus instead of a Mercury Navigator, Ford Mustang or other “cool car.” All in all, it’s been a good trip with lots of memories in the making and a pleasant pace.
One noticeable difference about this trip is that for the first time ever, I won’t return home with increased balances on my credit card that will cause headaches and regrets when the bills come in. As a family we’ve had plenty of fun, seen some cool sights, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Overall, I’d say we’ve been good stewards of our time, talents, and possessions on this trip, and I give thanks to God for each precious minute.
Being a good steward is an everyday process – a part of learning and growing as a disciple of Christ in all aspects of life. So as you’re contemplating your vacation this year and packing your bags, remember to make room for stewardship in the planning process. Like the American Express commercial used to say: “Don’t leave home without it.”
Copyright (c) 2008, The Rev. Sharron Lucas, all rights reserved. Used by permission.