As a child summer vacation was easily my favorite time of the year. While I enjoyed seeing my friends at school, there is nothing like getting outside, playing football, baseball, and basketball all day long. Plus, it also meant that I went fishing more regularly with my grandfathers. (I loved those special times and often long for them as I listened to their instruction concerning fishing, life and God). But, my favorite thing about summer vacation was the family vacations we took. My parents were not particularly wealthy so our family vacations didnít include yearly trips to places like Disney World or Six Flags. My parents couldnít get the time off to take us on a cross country trip to see any oceans. (In fact, the 1st time I saw the Atlantic Ocean I was a freshman in college on a Speech and Debate team tournament). But, that didnít change the fact that I loved those opportunities to get away. We usually went camping. By camping, I mean in a tent, no camper, no electricity, no air conditioner, and no refrigerator. (Although we would make periodic trips into town to get ice for the coolers to keep the meat cold). Yes, out there in the elements, away from it all were some of my fondness childhood memories.
However, there were certain things about those trips that I would never permit my kids to partake of. For starters, my father was not a Christian. Most of these trips were with my fatherís friends. While these men would have died for us kids (I truly believe that based upon what I saw through the years), they were not exactly the most moral of people. I hardly recall a time when someone wasnít drinking on one of these trips. While no one would drink enough to become intoxicated around us kids, there was beer all over the campground. Everyone had at least one cooler stocked with them.
There was also the issue of immodesty. My dadís friends were bikers. Leather, tattoos, tube tops, and short shorts were the common attire of many of the girl friends and wives of my dadís friends.
Speaking of the relationships, I will be honest with you, I couldnít tell you have many of them were married and how many were just living together. When I was young I was naÔve enough to think that they were all married. When I got older my parents explained to me that there were only a couple of people in their social circle that were actually married.
And then there was the fact that these camping trips were always on the weekends. We would take off as soon as Dad got off work and we would stay until after we had our suppers on Sunday night just to make sure we got in one last hot dog before the 2 hour drive home. Not once during these trips was God mentioned. I donít even recall my father leading us in a prayer before we ate. I suppose I should be gracious for that. I am not sure it would have done much good to praise God in one hand and hold a Budweiser in the other.
The saddest part of all this for me is that I didnít know any better. I didnít know it was wrong to drink. I didnít know it was wrong to dress immodestly. I didnít know that all those living together were living in sin. I didnít know that missing services for vacation was forsaking the assembly of the saints (Heb. 10:14). As the years went by, my parents both matured in the Faith. My dad quit drinking. When he stopped that, all these so-called friends stopped coming around. Eventually my father came forward, confessed his sin and was restored to the church. (This is not to say that issues didnít come up later, but the ones I saw as a kid are no more).
Vacations for many are a time you get to do things you wouldnít normally do. We wouldnít normally sleep in a tent. We wouldnít normally grill out every meal, including breakfast. We didnít normally go fishing every day, all day. And we didnít normally miss servicesÖ unless it was vacation.
My friends cherish the vacations you have with your children. But, make certain that when you are on vacation that you are showing your children that while we get to do things we wouldnít normally do, that does not mean that we get to cast off the good and righteous things that we normally do. Teach your children that morality isnít cast into the wind just because you went on vacation. Teach your children you donít throw sobriety out the window just because you are going to ďwine country.Ē Teach your children that God comes first even on vacation. Show your children that Godís people can be found all over this great country. Show them that we arenít the only ones that understand the need to worship God in spirit and in truth.
Remember, your children are watching and learning. If you teach them now that their faith is only something they do, like a job, or school then you are teaching them how to forsake their faith when they grow up and realize it is something they no longer want to do.
Show your children that being a Christian is something you are whether on vacation, staycation, or an average day. -WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Volume 5 Issue 24