I just returned from two weeks of vacation, the last week of which was spent on the beautifully tropical isle of Maui, Hawaii. : ) On our trip back home, we had an early morning layover in San Francisco. To my delight I discovered something WONDERFUL in that airport. Here’s a look into my thoughts from my journaling that morning:
“So I am sitting here with coffee and my Bible looking out the window at planes coming and going and the hustle bustle of transportation, travel, and tourism and I feel refreshed. The sun is warm on my newly washed, but doubtfully clean (sand, sunscreen, peeling sunburn), face. My heart — finally — rests. Lord, thank you!
It’s been weeks since I’ve spent any real time praying or reading the Bible. I’ve been functioning with God how one survives a day at a mundane job — I punch in with glazed expression and uninterested mind, and I punch out secretly glad to be done with my time. Have you ever had a job or class like that? One where you are present and at the same time not present. It’s drudgery and it breeds resentment almost for the necessity of it. I don’t think our relationship with God — let alone with anyone — should be like that. There is no LIFE in that. There is no joy in it.
I can completely see how people can emerge from the journey of seminary feeling “dead” in their relationship with God and frustrated with the church. Everyone knows the church isn’t perfect — even folks who don’t attend know that! But we forget that the church is made up of people, and people are not perfect. We get selfish, bored, greedy, tired, and proud. We do the right things, but often for the wrong reasons. We need grace.
All this to say, I feel that I’m on the upswing of a burnout — and it is GLORIOUS!! I just spent six full days in the tropical Hawaiian islands and yet my soul feels more rested here in the San Francisco airport after a red-eye flight than on the gold sand beach of Maui. The reason is simple, yet profound:
I had tried to rest by getting away from everything, including God, when I should have turned to God.
I opened my Bible for the first time in a long time and as I began to read the Psalms I realized how much I longed to know God. How satisfying His words are to a heart that is ready to hear them. You’d think that a vacation with friends in the tropical islands could not be beat, and indeed it was fun, but even that left me wanting. Unsatisfied in spirit.
Though my eyes had feasted upon volcanoes, tropical rainforests, waterfalls, tropical sunsets, spinning dolphins, enormous sea turtles, coral reefs, and world famous beaches… though my body had reasted and indulged, my spirit felt unsatisfied. I believe even the most extravagant vacation in the most beautiful location will not satsify the spirit. It may distract for a time, but only God can fill our spirits. He made us that way.”
Here’s a section of the Psalms I was reading, hope it encourages you!
“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” -Psalm 16:7-11
The FULLNESS OF JOY is found in the presence of God. God gives good counsel, peace, and joy. While God is always present we often ignore him, thinking that counsel, peace, joy, and happiness can be found elsewhere. But I kid you not, I felt such PEACE and JOY in God’s presence sitting in a San Francisco airport chair — more than any beautiful sunset on the beach with a cocktail could ever bring. There is nothing magical about the airport, but there is something powerful about basking in the sunshine with God. I highly recommend it! : )