What’s Up With The White Shirts and Ties?


Attending church in Cambodia

Attending church in Cambodia

Awhile back a friend commented on the above photo, “You actually brought church clothes and ties on the trip?”

If you read my A Morning of Indecision post, then you would understand how we travel with very limited wardrobe options. Lugging around special white shirts, dress pants and neckties blew his mind, as did the thought that we spend precious travel time to attend Sunday church services.

What our friend might not know is that to us Sunday is super precious and we find space in our life to worship God on this special day. That said, we certainly don’t think our family is super special. We do think, however, that Sunday can be a delight and attending church with other believers is good for us. Real good.

“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. “

Genesis 2:2, KJV

Christians around the world recognize this scripture from The Holy Bible. It teaches us that even God, the creator of the universe, took time to rest from his labors.

At first I thought this rest, was simply a break from the craziness of life. Back home we were busy 24/7 with yard work, homework, housework, career work, sports, shopping, birthday parties, bills, Facebook, cleaning, and keeping up with the Jones’. Traveling entails a different kind of busy … flying, walking, standing, reading, looking, hunting, figuring, decoding, deciphering, processing, sweating, playing. Both forms of busy are exhausting.

Sunday activity before church ... Learning about Buddhism.

Sunday activity before church … Learning about Buddhism.

Whether home or abroad, running at full steam at hour after hour, day after day, week after week, wears us down and we become fatigued. Our bodies and minds need a rest! For years I thought Sunday = nap!!! A nice looooong nap to refresh my tired body and unplug from the daily grind.

Then one afternoon, a Sunday to be exact, I had a series of life-changing thoughts enter my brain. God is omnipotent. He is all powerful. He is perfect. He would not need to nap after a long day of creating. His rest was not sleeping.

I woke up and had to figure out what those thoughts meant. After some digging I learned that the Hebrew word “rested” used in Genesis is the verb shabath, from which comes the noun form we know in English as “Sabbath.” And these words don’t have the primary meaning of relaxing or rejuvenating, but “to desist from exertion” or “to cease.” I learned that resting from, or ceasing to do, daily chores one day a week allows us fill our mind, heart and action in other ways.

It may sound arrogant to say traveling is hard work, but it is. Traveling is not laying by the pool everyday with a tall glass of lemonade in your hand. It’s emotionally draining, mentally exhausting, and physically taxing to constantly figure out where to sleep that night, what food stall won’t make you sick, if the price quoted is fair, when the next bus is coming, whose needs should be addressed today, and on and on and on. This work, although super fun most of the time, is hard and we need a rest. Every week.

Rachel and Thomas riding to church in tuk tuk.

Rachel and Thomas riding to church in tuk tuk.

On Sunday we shake things up a bit. Attending church is always a priority. But we also rest from normal travel life by using Sunday as a time to reconnect with friends and family. We phone, Skype, and e-mail loved ones. We snuggle. We journal. We talk. We read. We review the week and plan for the next. Sunday is a our day to rest. And of course … nap!

Robert and Doran "snuggle."

Robert and Doran “snuggle.”

One hymn from this week’s church service had these beautiful words:

“Gently raise the sacred strain,
For the Sabbath’s come again
That man may rest,
That man may rest,
And return his thanks to God
For his blessings to the blest,
For his blessing to the blest.”

Gently Raise the Sacred Strain, text by William W. Phelps

Traveling is a blessing in our lives! We are better people because of the amazing places we have been and the amazing people we have met. And for that blessing we return our thanks to God. On Sunday, at church.

Chiang Mai 2 Branch, Thailand

Chiang Mai 2 Branch, Thailand

Robert teaching Sunday School in Thailand.

Robert teaching Sunday School in Thailand.


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