The key to recharging this summer (without leaving home)
The year’s accumulation of stress, fatigue, and discouragement slowly lift as our destination comes into view. The whole family begins to relax, breathe deeply, and see clearly. It’s like coming home.
The vacation cabin we discovered in the Edenic mountains of North Carolina allow us to reconnect with extended family. There are no cell towers nearby, and WiFi is sketchy, so unplugging is a snap. The tangible peace and quiet help us feel closer to God.
But, I’ve noticed how easily we become preoccupied with thoughts of our mountain escape throughout the year. When I’m feeling discouraged by debilitating chronic illness flares, when my husband’s feeling overwhelmed at work, or when our son’s feeling stressed at school, we daydream of the serenity awaiting us on the mountain.
It’s instinctual to search for an escape — or distraction — when the walls close in. Vacation can be a great thing for us and for our families. But if we think we must head for the hills (or the beach or Disney) in order to recharge our batteries, leave work behind, or get close to God, we have a problem.
So, how can we find that peace without leaving home?
The Secret to Peace and Contentment is No Secret
The apostle Paul tells us, in his letter to the Philippians, that the secret to being content in all circumstances is to seek Jesus in all we do, drawing strength from Him (Philippians 4:10-13).
We can trust that Paul knew what he was talking about since he was in prison when he wrote of learning that “secret.”
In this same letter, he offers specific advice about how we can all know the peace of God. He says to rejoice in the Lord, pray and give thanks for everything all of the time, put God’s Word into practice, and keep our minds focused on godly things (Philippians 4:4-9 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
But, how does this look practically? A few intentional steps will make it easier to follow Paul’s advice:
Set aside some alone time to pray, worship, and read the Bible. God deserves the first fruits of our time and devotion, not our leftovers. Wake fifteen minutes early to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee with Him. The Bible is our soul’s map; checking in every day keeps us from losing our way.
Jesus’ disciples even asked how to pray, so He offered plenty of instruction (Luke 11:1-4, Matthew 6:5-15). You might want to take time to write your own prayer. Most importantly, it should come from the heart. Sometimes our prayer is an ugly cry to God in the loneliness of the night, and sometimes it’s song belted at the top of our lungs.
We can hear the Holy Spirit’s whispered instruction when we know Jesus; we just have to pause and be still (John 10:27, Job 37:14). And when we follow through in obedience, we’ll be blessed (Luke 6:46-49, Luke 11:28).
Anywhere, everywhere, and all day, every day. God reveals Himself to us through the Bible, His creation, and through others, so that “we are without excuse” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Romans 1:20). When we seek Him, He promises that we’ll find Him (Matthew 7:7-8). No place is too messy for Jesus to respond to our call.
While the world lures us into wanting more, more, more (via busyness, technology, and consumerism), we must fight to keep our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2). This might mean designating some unplugged time for you and your family.
Whether family, other believers, or those in the community, connect with people. Schedule family time, serve together, or join a group. God shows up when we gather together to pray and worship with others (Matthew 18:20, Hebrews 10:24-25). And when we serve, share our faith, and love others, we glorify the Lord (Matthew 5:15-16, John 13:35).
Paul didn't let prison stop him from preaching, leading, and teaching, as evidenced by his writings that became 13 books in the New Testament. No matter our circumstance or limitation, God can work miracles through our gifts, if we’ll allow Him (1 Corinthians 12).
Praise and rejoice. Sing worship songs in the shower, in the car, or even in line at the grocery store (Psalm 98:1). Practice gratitude, thanking God throughout the day for big and small things, and good and bad things, knowing that God works everything for good (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Romans 8:28).
God is the ultimate power source. When our daily routines suck us into a rut or circumstances knock us down, plugging into God recharges our batteries. (Matthew 19:26, Psalm 138:3).
Because, when we look for God instead of an escape, we find a lasting peace — the kind that a cabin in the woods can’t touch (Philippians 4:7).