After five months of sixty-hour workweeks, I was tired. Burned out might be a better description. Forty hours of social work provides enough highs, lows and stresses for a man without a second job on top of that. Add to the equation the fact that I was trying like hell to leave my church and somehow still remain faithful to God and I was a grumpy ho.
I’d signed up to go on a trip to Uganda to serve in an orphanage, but the week after I paid for the adventure, the trip was cancelled. Unused vacation time and cash were returned. At a loss as to what I should do, I told Jesus that I was struggling. I was weary. I needed some kind of break. So, I asked if I could go on vacation with the money. He didn’t protest, I was overdue for an extended sabbath anyway.
So, I bought a ticket to Cancun. I went by myself, for a week. I had the Word with me, Ayn Rand, and my laptop. I spent time on the beach. I slept- a lot. I read, wrote and prayed. I rode and ATV through the jungle during one of the biggest rainstorms of my life and it was glorious. The trip was mostly what I needed. In order to understand what was missing, we need to consider what Jesus said in Matthew 25.
Then the King will say to those on his right…
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.
‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Serve? I was not on a mission trip, I was on a much-needed vacation, a break from people! I was excited about feeding my face, running around half-naked, knowing nobody and and drinks with umbrellas in them. Of course, we can take Jesus’ words to mean that when we serve others, we’re actually serving Him. That’s an accurate assessment of this section of text, but it’s incomplete. Jesus was also saying that if we want to spend time with Him, trying to understand a little more about Him, we have to spend time with other humans.
My jaunt down to the Caribbean and others’ retreats into the mountains and forests or any other isolated place can’t will never get us as close to the Almighty as we want because it is through other people that He makes Himself known. That sounds like it could be heretical, but it comes along with bearing His image and is consistent with how He’s employed humanity from the beginning anyway. Perhaps it would suffice to say that one can’t have God without people. So go get ’em.