When Rest Requires Work
By Melia Ozbun
When I tell most people my family is avid campers, I usually get the same surprised response.
“That’s not relaxing, that’s work.”
And to be honest, their response is partly correct. Camping is work. When else do you pack up all the daily essentials needed for cooking, sleeping, bathing, and recreation, load it up in a trailer a fraction of the size of your home, and then unpack it all to use for a few days of vacation?
And unpacking is just the beginning of the work. Hungry? You will need to chop some wood and start a fire. Want to take a nap? You will need to set up your tent, air up your mattress, and put sheets on your temporary bed before resting.
So yes, I agree, it is work, but I believe it is worth it for so many reasons.
I think sometimes when you have to work diligently and wait for something; it brings you more appreciation for it. I also believe it is God’s design. You would be hard-pressed to find anything in His creation that doesn’t take hard work and patience. He is not a God of quick or careless outcomes. A baby takes nine months to form before it’s born. A small seed takes years to grow into a mighty tree.
You see, for me, sitting back once all the work is done and looking at the temporary abode I have made at my campsite, makes me stop and ponder what is good. I get the sense of what the Bible describes in Genesis about God when He looks over His creation and ‘saw that it was good.’
I know it’s somewhat of a stretch to compare glorious mountains and vast seas created by God to merely setting up a campsite, but if you have ever felt the frustration of setting up a tent, you know that on some levels, assembly can seem just as impossible to us as trying to create a mountain.
But despite all the work, camping makes me relax and notice things I might have otherwise missed. Without the modern conveniences of home, I am forced to slow down. Because I have to go outdoors early in the morning to make a trip to the bathhouse, I notice the magnificent sunrise right outside my door. At home, I would have started my usual morning routine and probably would have missed it.
By nature, I am a taskmaster. I love to-do lists and get a lot of satisfaction from marking things complete on those lists. In some ways, that strength keeps my family and home organized. However, along with that comes the struggle to stop and just be in the moment. Camping and being outdoors with my family causes me to pause. Yes, we could pack up and go to some fancy resort where I am sure we would have a blast, but sometimes the fewer activities you have available, the more creative you have to be.
One of my favorite memories from a recent trip is when my family, my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend were camping in southern Indiana. As a family of kayakers, we had ideal campsites right on the water’s edge. Most of the trip, the temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees along with high humidity. Too hot to sit in a kayak in the full sun. Too hot to cook or enjoy doing anything else outside. So it seemed liked a logical idea to take advantage of the beach area. But the funny thing is, my dad doesn’t enjoy swimming. I was surprised to learn he even owned a pair of trunks. However, this particular day it was the only thing you could do to get any relief. And after some nudging from us about how nice the water felt, he decided to join in. We spent the next several hours together in the water laughing, talking, and retelling stories from our childhood as we splashed around. It was a great day of work and relaxation.
And God did not only give us His great Creation for recreation, but everything in it also serves a mighty purpose. The Psalms tells us:
‘He sends the springs into the valleys;
They flow among the hills.
They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
By them the birds of the heavens have their home;
They sing among the branches.
He waters the hills from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.
He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the service of man,
That he may bring forth food from the earth.’
(It gets even better if you read the entire chapter. He even made a massive sea creature, called a leviathan, to basically frolic in the water. Wow!)
Choosing to “work” on vacation gives me a little better understanding of why God’s desire for the first family He created was to be outdoors, in a garden. Because I believe there is something redemptive about being with our family, enjoying God’s wonderful creation and not getting distracted by our normal mundane routine. Its days like this that I wish I could freeze time and just stay there. I pray these memories are seared forever in my mind.
About the Author
Melia Ozbun has the privilege of working with elementary students with special needs during the school year. Most days, she believes they teach her more than she could ever teach them, particularly about life and love. A Muncie native, Melia is a wife to an endurance sports nut, a stepmom to a middle schooler who currently knows it all, and a slightly obnoxious food snob. God’s creation awes her and she is an avid camper, hiker, and kayaker. When she is not in search of good eats, she can be found in a nearby state park. To connect with Melia, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org