Thinking this morning of the blessings and challenges of this vacation. There have been many. While this year’s vacation has to be one of my favorite of all time, no person nor family can escape the challenges of every day life. The choice we had this week and the choice we all have in the midst of challenges is how we will respond to them.
On the second night of our vacation, my oldest daughter hit her big toe on a tree root. We thought she broke it. It swelled up quickly and turned red. Already in a cast due to a broken wrist, now our oldest child, who is also our biggest help with the little ones, was needing a lot of attention. Camping is already difficult with little ones, but now it became even more difficult.
You may know this, but we mixed our family vacation with a mission trip. We, with another family in our church, came down to conduct a children’s camp on the campground for four days. On the morning of the first day of camp, one hour before it all began, in the RV that we borrowed, the water backed up and poured all over the floor (YUCK). In the disgust of seeing water from the RV empty all over our floor, we had to make a choice, place all our attention on cleaning up the mess, or focusing on the camp that began in just under an hour. We had to decide quickly.
My kids had a great time this past week on the campground. I am thankful for my oldest son who helped tremedously with our youngest, three year old Josiah. For some reason this week, Josiah decided to rebel against my oldest son. Whether it was taking a shower, brushing his teeth, getting dressed, or going to the bathroom, every time my oldest son tried to help Jo-Jo, it was a war. Trying to keep the ambiance uplifting, my wife and I spoke with Jo-Jo trying to explain to him why he needed to listen to his older brother. It did not work. So, we had to deal with it in another way.
The exchange rate hurt us badly. Living in Canada and traveling to the US was not easy financially. The exchange rate right now is one of the worst we have seen in years. Not great timing for a family vacation with a limited salary.
But, even though those challenges were real and not always easy, the blessings we saw this past week far outweighed and towered over them. We are so grateful for the blessings. Keeping this perspective has helped me to see that this is probably the best family vacation I have ever had.
God allowed us to grow a deeper relationship with some good friends from our church. We had the blessing of conducting the children’s camp with a great couple from our church in Quebec. We have known them for years, but we were able to cultivate a closer friendship with them that I am confident that God wanted to have. I am so grateful they decided to join us in this great adventure. I cannot wait to see how God will use in the future what He built this past week. It was simply pure joy!
We were able to partner with Indian River Baptist Church in Chesapeake, Virginia. It is really because of them that made this campground outreach possible. I have known their pastor and his family for about 11 years. It is through this relationship that connected all the dots for us to come. Their committment to the gospel of our Lord Jesus and their sacrifical giving of their time, energy, and money are what allowed us to do all that we did. They lent us RVs so that we did not have to rent them and lug them down from Canada. They provided multitudes of supplies for us. They spoiled us in many ways. We love them and enjoyed every second we can squeeze into them being with us.
We were able to worship and fellowship with them. We were able to get to know them better. We established new friendships and deepened existing ones. This is just another clear example that being involved in the local church is God’s will for the believer and is vital if we are to live out His mission for our lives.
Because we were in VA Beach, we were only hours away from some other good friends we have in Roxboro, NC. Actually, I am finishing this post in the dining room of a member of Westwood Baptist Church in Roxboro, NC. They are a partner church with us. They have helped us with our sports camps in Rawdon for many years now. We have many good friends here. We love them dearly and decided to extend our vacation a couple of days to see them. One of the blessings is that they have opened their homes to us so that we do not have to pay for a hotel. Another one is that we get to worship with them today. Partnerships are vital to the advancement of the gospel. Every believer should want the gospel to advance. Thus, every believer should be in a local church and partner with other churches for the purpose of the gospel. It creates friendships, causes dependence on one another and the Lord, and obeys the word of God.
I am excited to be going home soon. Vacation is great, but home is better. Our Christian family in Quebec are precious to us. We are not going home with our heads hanging down, but with great excitement of seeing our friends, our church, and our home. We are so thankful for them. We love them deeper than they think or know. It is an honor to serve the Lord with them. We did not go on vacation because we needed to get out of out town, but because we just wanted to spend some family time together in a context where the gospel was central to our time here. Mission accomplished! Thank you Jesus!
So, no matter where we are in life, we will have challenges and blessings. Too often we only focus on the negatives. I am praying that God help me not do that. Also, the reality of challenges for all people is just another real proof that the prosperity gospel is a big fat lie. We must stay gospel centered. We must stay mission focused. We must be commited to Christ’s church. We must cultivate real fellowship. This takes investment. This takes making choices. This is the Christian life!
Those are my vacation thoughts. Let’s go home!!!