“I said to the LORD,’You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’… LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance …You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand (Psalm 16:2,5-6,11).”
I just started a small “staycation”. We just moved into a new home this weekend, and we’re busy sitting up shop, getting ready for school to start and various and sundry other things.
I would have liked some time in the forest or at the beach, but that’s ok. In the midst of setting up the electric service and driving my family to their appointments, I can sneak in things I like to do (like writing these pieces, for example)
To me, the best pleasures are those that I didn’t know were coming. This idea isn’t original with me. I have to give credit to early 20th century British journalist G.K. Chesterton for it. In his book “Orthodoxy”, in a chapter called “The Suicide of Thought”, he wrote these words:
“It is only with one aspect of humility that we are here concerned. Humility was largely meant as a restraint upon the arrogance and infinity of the appetite of man. He was always outstripping his mercies with his own newly invented needs. His very power of enjoyment destroyed half his joys. By asking for pleasure, he lost the chief pleasure; for the chief pleasure is surprise. Hence it became evident that if a man would make his world large, he must be always making himself small. Even the haughty visions, the tall cities, and the toppling pinnacles are the creations of humility. Giants that tread down forests like grass are the creations of humility. Towers that vanish upwards above the loneliest star are the creations of humility. For towers are not tall unless we look up at them; and giants are not giants unless they are larger than we. All this gigantesque imagination, which is, perhaps, the mightiest of the pleasures of man, is at bottom entirely humble. It is impossible without humility to enjoy anything– even pride.”
Thus, according to Chesterton, I don’t have to keep up with the Jones’s in seeking out the hottest villa or the most pristine beach. I can humbly accept what God has given me, and revel in His plans for me and mine.
He has given me imagination,also, the most powerful of the pleasures He has bestowed. As a result, during my “staycation” I can use it to the full to make the most if my time away from the regular routine.
I can write. I can spend time with my wife and kids in creative ways. Best of all, I can wait on God to surpise me.
He does surprise. For instance, He did it for us a couple of weeks ago.
We needed a place to live for a couple of weeks while we waited for our new place to become available. Practically speaking, we were homeless.
Then I asked a pastor of ours if he knew someone who needed some people to housesit for a couple of weeks. Almost immediately he contacted me about a family who were traveling and wanted someone to watch their pets while they were away.
This family’s house is out in the country, with deer running around and a beautiful view of the forest and distant mountains. We were happy to accept this opportunity.
I didn’t get to spend much time there because of my work. However, I did enjoy some times out on their deck, enjoying the fresh air and the view.
This housesitting opportunity was a complete surprise. I didn’t go looking for a palace, just a place where my family could have a roof over their heads for a while. God suprised me. He did far more than I could have asked for or thought about (Ephesians 3:20).
Chesterton was right. I get much more joy out of watching God work to give me His pleasures than to try and engineer my own. I might even do so, but it’s still more satisfying and enjoyable to receive from Him.
At least I know that in this “staycation”, God is along for the time. He’s a welcome Guest, One with plenty of largesse to pass around while He’s staying with us on our “staycation”. What a deal!