Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Faith on Vacation

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Several years ago, we sat in the auditorium at the Myrtle Beach Church of Christ.  We were on summer vacation, and our family felt fortunate to find a spot to sit in the full Sunday morning auditorium.  The worship was meaningful, the sermon was very well-presented, but something in the announcements is what has always stuck with me.  The man giving the announcements asked the Myrtle Beach members to stand, and only about one-fourth of that full auditorium stood up!  We all laughed as we realized that most of us were out-of-town visitors.  I think part of our laughter was appreciation, an appreciation that so many families from all over the country had made it a priority to worship God with a local church family, even on vacation.  Knowing there was so much commitment to God in that room was really encouraging. 

On another beach vacation just a few weeks ago, I walked our 6 year old into his Wednesday night Bible class, where 5 other kids already were getting seated, chattering and laughing around the table.  “This is Riley,” I told the teacher.  We were visiting, so Riley walked in tentatively.  “Hello, Riley,” the teacher said. “Come on in, these boys are all visitors too.” 

It made me smile.  Here we were in a small town near the beach, at a midweek Bible study, and there were at least 4 other visiting kids in the 6-year old class alone.  It made me appreciate these other young families that had stepped away from the beach for an hour to have their weekly time in Bible study with a church family. 

Sunday morning, I smiled again as we walked into the same building for worship, only to find the auditorium overflowing.  Many (most?) of the people there were visitors like us, enjoying the beach, but still wanting to start our week with God’s people.  As I looked around the room from the back row, I thanked God for all the visiting young adults and young families that were there.  Worn-out kids singing while leaning on their moms.  A group of sunburned college-aged kids.  Teenagers taking sermon notes next to their parents.  God came first, even on vacation.

I long ago became thankful for how my parents handled worship services while we were on vacations growing up.  We were still going to worship God and have Bible study time as if we were at home.  I don’t remember us complaining about it, but I’m sure there must have been some times when my sisters and I would have preferred to sleep in or spend a couple extra hours riding the rides.  Subconsciously, we were learning a valuable lesson from our parents: we are Christians no matter where we are at.  Taking a vacation doesn’t mean a vacation from putting God first. 

So this summer I’m thankful for all the Christians who make sure God stays first, even when they’re out of town.  Whether they know it or not, those families are teaching a valuable lesson about faith to the next generation, and they’re encouraging everyone who sees them.  If you’re going to Gulf Shores, Myrtle Beach, or Disney World, make sure you take time out to keep God first.  I think you’ll be encouraged to see how many people do the same.

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