Is Jesus in your suitcase?

From Kevin Funk…

How’s your summer going?  Have you had your summer vacation yet, or are you about to take off into the great unknown?  Our family vacation is approaching next week and it got me thinking about previous vacations and the ones yet to be had.

We can all agree we take vacations for the memories.  I could write a book on just the ones I took when I was growing up.  You might remember some amazing sight, or one in particular moment frozen in time. How about the not so great memories of getting lost or family scuffles.  We can usually look back and smile about those as well.  I pray that your able to hang onto the positive and put away the negative.

There was always a common thread on these trips away from home for us as kids.  Jesus.  My dad would often break out his Bible or just have conversation that was centered around Christ.  I may reference my dad from time to time in my blogs (and other places) only because he was the most Christ-like example I’ve ever known, and I miss him to the ends of the earth.  My wife remembers some of our vacations as well.  As we dated in high school, she went a couple of excursions with the Funks.  She will tell you that what she thought was the oddest thing back then, is now a mainstay for us now.  If our vacation would ever carry us through a Sunday in a hotel, we would always have a family church service in one of the hotel rooms.  One adult would sit in the hallway with the little ones that are restless, and the rest of us would either listen to a sermon from a cassette tape or dad would have his own lesson planned out.  Jesus was always packed in my father’s suitcase.

This type of Godly leadership has now passed down to the younger generation.  I will give my dad the credit and God the glory for making his heart beat for Him.  I must admit that during our first couple years of marriage we didn’t do this.  Not sure why.  Maybe our marriage wasn’t as Christ-centered as it should have been.  Or selfishly we were awaiting worldly pleasures that took our eyes off Jesus.

My wife was awarded a trip for two to San Diego from a previous employer about 5 years ago.  This was one of my top 2 vacations I’ve ever taken.  So while in San Diego we rode jet skis, went to the beach, rode 4-wheelers, shopped, and watched some of the World Series. Notice I didn’t include God anywhere.  I admit I packed my Bible but there it stayed.  We were so consumed with “vacation” that we squeezed God right out of the picture.  We jumped on the plane to head back to Illinois.  During the flight it was quiet and we were tired.  The longer I sat in my seat the more I had this weird, sad feeling.  Then it hit me.  We were approaching Peoria on a rainy morning and God blasted me with His love.  “I missed you” He told me.  This was one time I clearly heard from God.  I began to cry and sob over those three words.  I completely overlooked the most important part of vacation.  I never opened the Bible the entire time I was gone.

God could have told me that He was upset or disappointed in me, but instead He showered me with His  love and mercy.  He embraced my broken heart in that moment.  I packed Jesus in my suitcase but that’s where He stayed.  Never again I told myself.  God needs to lead and be in our agenda no matter what the occasion.

If you are not taking Jesus on vacation with you I just want to ask….why?  Take some time before you head out the door on vacation and plan a bible study for your family.  The example and legacy you are leaving behind will show your kids that God is not just back at home in a church building, but everywhere you travel.  This will also show them that God should be involved in every aspect of our lives.  It’s a great time to show gratitude to the One who has provided the time, money, and opportunity.