I have a framed picture on my desk of my boys when they were little standing at the Eiffel Tower making silly faces. It never fails to make me smile. It was a decade ago, our summer vacation to Europe. We traipsed all over France and Italy with only a vague plan of action, taking things as they came and just enjoying each other’s company. It was a wildly imperfect trip. I have exactly zero family pictures of the four of us looking at the camera. My Christmas card photo did not happen. I do, however, have dozens of candid moments captured that mean so much more.
The kids were in a big Star Wars phase and had to take toy lightsabers everywhere we went. During a duel in the park one day, a gentle old man in a beret stopped by and whispered to them “Don’t ever drop your sword” and went on his way. For years, we used that encounter as God’s gentle reminder to put on our armor and take up His Word. They don’t remember seeing the Mona Lisa, but they recall that old man. We would pull out God’s Word over croissants or ice cream, in a cafe or in a vineyard. It was short and sweet usually; they were only six and four years old… but it’s what they remember. God is everywhere, He’s always speaking, and His Word is for every day.
It’s been a decade now since that glorious summer trip, and I look back with fond memories and a slight ache in my heart for those days. It truly was a summer to remember. We aren’t doing much this summer, not compared to everyone else. We are sticking close to home and doing the usual things like baseball and swimming. I sit and scroll through endless social media posts of people and families enjoying their vacations, and I feel like the most boring person ever. I don’t have a summer hashtag to add to any pictures or any huge accomplishment to show off. Honestly, it bothers me for a moment. Everyone is out there seizing the day and living their best life as they say, and we are just, well, at home.
Then I am reminded of something. I glance at another picture on my desk; this one is of a giant cluster of purple grapes hanging on a vine. I snapped it while we were on a little tasting tour in the Loire Valley. The old man who knew these vines like the back of his own hand had just said something I’ll never forget: “You cannot do everything for these grapes; they have to struggle a little to grow strong, you know?” He gave the branch a rather violent shake and chuckled as he walked off.
That fruit comes not by being pampered but through the thoughtful care of someone who knows what they’re doing. God knows we are just the same. I know that not every summer can be a hashtag-filled, social-media worthy vacation, and that’s perfectly ok. We grow through abiding; we get strong through just quietly entering the rest He has called us to. Not everything needs to be glamorous or flashy; not every season needs to be busy.
We pull out God’s Word whether we are in Paris or in our living room. We never put down our sword. If my kids remember one thing about that childhood vacation, I truly hope it’s that God is with us always, in the adventure and the mundane. Some seasons are simpler than others, and we shouldn’t ever feel embarrassed that we aren’t out there “hustling” or “crafting” our best life as all the coffee cups say. God reminds us in Hebrews 4 that we need to be diligent to enter the rest He has set aside for us (v. 11). The next verse reminds us how to do that by taking up our sword. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (NKJV).
Spend your days in the Word with Him, and you’ll suddenly realize that who you’re with is far more important that where you are.
Featured Image by Mitchell Griest