I am back safe and sound from my travels abroad! And yes, I did learn something abroad that might be appropriate to pass on to you. One must always be learning something…
So! I have learned that travel is my humbug.
What does that mean?
I think most people have at least heard of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Spirits of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Scrooge’s most famous saying is that which he used in response to his nephew’s hearty ‘Merry Christmas, Uncle Scrooge’: humbug! What he basically means is that he disregards the importance of Christmas in his life and despises the assumption that he has to practice it. An interchange with his clerk, Crachit, on Christmas Eve displays his ‘humbug’ attitude to Christmas:
“You’ll want all day [off] tomorrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge.
“If quite convenient, Sir.”
“It’s not convenient,” said Scrooge, “and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, I ‘ll be bound?”
The clerk smiled faintly.
“And yet,” said Scrooge, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”
The clerk observed that it was only once a year.
“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning!” (from A Christmas Carol)
So, Mary, you say, how is travel your humbug?
Well, friends, I say, I have noticed that when people travel some of their habits (and even good sense) seem to drop away, as if to say that they are ‘disregarding the importance of it in their lives’. For example, I read a statistic once that stated that somewhere around 94% of travellers within the first 3 days of travel will break at least one of the rules regarding safe food or water intake. And these rules are important! Yes, traveller’s diarrhea may not kill you, but Hepatitis B could! And yet people disregard these rules on a regular basis as not important!
A lot of regular habits can fall away when we are away from home: adequate (and safe!) water intake, diet, sleep, physiotherapy exercises, Godly pursuits…
AHA! We are finally to it! The first day or two of my trip I was good–I was drinking water, eating carefully, getting sleep, doing my physio exercises, and reading my Bible and praying. Then…the humbug fell over me…I started to skip a few of these items each day. Which one did I notice the most by the end of the week? The sliding away of my daily time with God.
Why is it that something so important to my daily health and safety could slide away? This is the humbug spirit. Satan is good at slipping thoughts into our heads–Oh, I’m on vacation! It doesn’t really matter, does it? This is when we need to cling to Christ the strongest! Isn’t it on vacation that we do the worst sorts of things? Why do you think they coined the phrase ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’?
We need to be constant in our Christian discipline. Look at the following verses.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18 NIV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… Hebrews 12:1
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27
So, practically, what will I do next time I travel to keep the ‘humbug’ of travel away?
1). I will print off the above verses and work at memorizing them over my holiday and meditating on them throughout my stay.
2). I will plan out a Bible study for each day I am gone. It won’t be huge, but a few verses to contemplate and a time for prayer every day.
3). I will try to enlist my travelling companion into my plan (someone to gently ‘remind’ me of my goal!).
Will it work? If I pray before the trip, during the trip, and after the trip for this to work I’m sure it will (it will have already worked!). I will have to keep you informed!
Happy (and Holy) Travels!