A couple of weeks ago, our family enjoyed an awesomely refreshing vacation in Navarre Beach, Florida. I first visited Navarre in 1983 when I was a college student, and Kim and I took the kids there one summer several years ago when Hannah and Coleman were still quite small. More recently, this significantly less-populated stretch of the Florida Panhandle has become an anticipated destination for our family for the last three summers. I’ll have to clarify that last statement a bit, because, last August, Kim and the children made the trip by themselves. I reluctantly, but needfully, stayed behind in Dallas to give attention to some challenges and struggles that I was facing in my life. To date, that was about the hardest thing I had ever done: seeing them off early on a Saturday morning for a 13-hour drive without me, Father Unit, Navigation Man, Defender, Protector, and Designated Driver of the family. With periodic driving relief from Hannah (and a couple of conversations with OnStar), they made the trip just fine.

My absence last year made this year’s trip that much sweeter. We saw family on the way to Florida, and even got to visit with friends who were vacationing nearby while we were there, but mostly we just chilled for a week. With only a few highrise condo buildings and some rental houses (no strip of restaurants and bars, no go carts, bungee jumping, water parks, or putt-putt), your two main options on Navarre Beach are: 1) relax on the beach, or 2) relax in your room. The sand is white; radiantly white! This year there were very few jellyfish, the water was clear and calm, almost like a lake one day. In addition to the dolphins, crabs, pelicans and other sea birds that we usually see, we got to encounter some new sea life this year. We found live sand dollars by groping around in the sand about 50 yards offshore and we encountered sea slugs for the first time; awesome, fascinating, amazing creatures in my Father’s world. I also caught a small, bony, snake-like creature with a long, pointed snout that absolutely did not like the idea of captivity. I didn’t hold it for long! I will share an entire post sometime about Coleman’s love for the water and the sand.

One glorious week. No rush, no schedule, no meetings, no appointments, no deadlines, no expectations, and no razor; just 7 days of enjoying the moment and playing each day by ear. Rest! Respite! Sabbath! It’s such an awesome concept. God recognized our need for it, and He has prepared an eternity of it for His weary children beyond this life of striving, struggling, and suffering. Scripture is pretty stingy with details about what life in eternity is going to be like, so, naturally, we try to fill in the blanks and “work out all the details” to satisfy our curiosity. There are Christians (whom I love and respect) who have scenario-ed Heaven out into a wide variety of possible existences. Some wishfully and sentimentally imagine it being like the holodeck in Star Trek: The Next Generation: a simulated reality reflecting whatever your greatest interests and enjoyments were on earth (fishing, golf, baseball, etc.). Others suggest that Heaven is just going to be a renewed, refreshed, upgraded, tricked-out earth; oh, and our beloved pets will be there, too! Still others say that we are all going to have jobs, be in charge of things, manage cities, etc. I really hope that they are wrong; not so much for theological reasons, just personal ones. I like the idea of an eternal Sabbath. “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,” (Hebrews 4:9). “‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them,'” (Revelation 14:13). Ahhhhhh! That’s more like it. Rest!

And if I’m wrong? No problem! I’ll be in the presence of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and the saints of all the ages eternally. I think I can cope. Just keep your dog off my lawn!