Spending Time With Loved Ones
by Robin Swoboda-Wagner

Vacations, I believe, are good for one's soul. They get a person out of the humdrum ordinariness of everyday. There is something to be said for routines and likewise there is something to be said for breaking them every once in awhile. A good way to break them is with a vacation. My personal favorite being a vacation at the beach.

We did well this year. In a 20-hour roundtrip drive to S. Carolina and our home base of Medina, Ohio, I believe I counted only 7 "Do I have to pull this van over and come back there's?" That must be some sort of record. We also joked that twice we should have been pulled over for speeding but the state troopers probably thought, "Oh, it's a mini-van with two frazzled parents and at least 2.5 children on their vacation. I'll let 'em go this time." Now THAT is grace!!!

The pristine coastline of Kiawah Island, just off Charleston, S.C. is nothing but pure relaxation and valuable lessons. Each morning I would walk along the ebbing tide line, awestruck by the magnificence of the Atlantic Ocean. Fishing boats dotting the horizon, gulls working for their morning meal and the sun rising over the tip of the island, beginning the day in glorious hues of pink, purple and blue. I was just a tiny dot in this glorious landscape and humbled by the fact that the same God who made that ocean and that sun also made me. The beach at dawn is a great place to pray and spend time alone with God. I was reminded of the many times that Jesus withdrew from people to spend time alone with the Father. If he, who was God the Son, needed time with God the Father, how much more time do I need to spend with God? Walking and praying reminded me once again how much God wants a relationship with me?with us. After all, He is our Father! Don't we want to spend time and build a relationship with our children? And so, too, it is with God. That was a valuable "reminder" lesson. Too often in our normal day-to-day lives we get pulled in so many directions that before we know it, our chance that day to spend time alone with the Father is gone. Another opportunity to build the relationship missed.

As the sun rises, so does the activity on the beach. We'd pick out "the Wagner spot" and set up our camp for the day before venturing into the water. It was never too long before the boys plopped their selves down in the sand and began to build sandcastles with huge motes and bucket-sized turrets. Much to the boys' dismay our daughter would "decorate" the castles with shells she'd found on the beach and it would cost a sand dollar if somebody wanted a "tour." It was my six-year-old who finally asked the obvious. "How come we work and work on these castles and come back the next day and they're gone?" he asked with wide-eyed innocence. We explained that the tide would rise and the ocean would cover a good portion of the beach before it retreated again creating a clean slate.

There are several good life lessons there. One of course is, don't build a house on the sand. In Matthew 7:21-27 Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.'

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

"That day" is the final day of reckoning when God will settle all accounts. He will judge sin and reward faith. If we've built our house on the rock we will walk our talk, not just talk the talk. Our house (which is our life) will withstand life's storms if we are firm in the foundation of Christ our Rock.

The other valuable lesson that I shared with my children is this one. When those waves came up and washed everything off the shore, it was the same way that God wipes our slate clean each morning. "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassion's never fail. They are new every morning." Lamentations 3:22, 23a. We are a new, clean creation in Christ Jesus who died in our place, the ultimate atonement for our sins.

I pray that our Connection readers will get a vacation this summer filled with the Son and plenty of time to spend with your Father.

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