restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


Hurry Up and Relax!

 David Alan Black 

As I sat in our doctor’s office waiting for my annual physical I noticed a TIME magazine report that contained an interesting statistic: the average American employee goofs off about two hours a day. Topping the list of at-work time stealers was – you probably guessed it – surfing the Internet. (This might explain why my weekday hits are about double my weekend totals.) The essay also noted how we Americans prefer quick weekend “get-aways” to taking longer vacations. The problem is that these sneak-aways are so crammed with activities that we don’t get to relax. We return home needing a vacation from our vacation.

What brought all this mind is a request we recently got from a relative who wanted to borrow our tent-trailer – the same pop-up that once took our family to Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore and from the California coast to the outer banks of North Carolina. Problem is, our much-beloved tent trailer hasn’t been used since we moved to the farm and is in a splendid state of disrepair.

The reason is simple enough. Living on 123 secluded acres in the heart of the Virginia Piedmont satisfies our need to get away and relax. We’re finding our leisure is healthy outdoor activities. In fact, we find it more fun – and more satisfying – to be homebodies than world travelers, although we haven’t completely cashed in our Wanderlust for fence-mending and bush-hogging yet.

And what about those time-stealers called cell phones? More power to you if you own one, but we’re happy to do without, thank you very much. I heard Garrison Keillor once say that the cell phone was invented for crazy folk. They’re the only people who go around holding private conversations in public. Crazy or not, we can probably all agree that many of our “labor-saving” devices have actually made us busier. For myself, I prefer to keep my work separate from my private life, and not having a beeper or cell phone is my subversive way of trying to beat the system.

Becky and I are such believers in the vacation-at-home philosophy that we often welcome guests to the farm who need a low-key, non-programmed retreat to put body and soul back together again. We offer this ministry free of charge to all who come. A recent visitor to Bradford Hall wrote these sentiments in our guest book:

To the generous Black family:

Thank you so much for opening your hearts and home in order to minister to us and provide a sweet time of retreat. It means so much to us to be able to spend time on your beautiful farm to rest, fish, and spend some sweet time with our Lord. We truly enjoyed our time here and are thankful beyond words! We pray the Lord bless you all and continue to use your family in such a mighty way!

A young seminary couple wrote:

We absolutely loved sharing this time with such a Christ-centered, God-honoring family. Our lives have truly been touched. Thank you for providing such an incredible opportunity for refreshment and encouragement. May the Lord continue to use Bradford Hall to impact hearts and lives with the love and joy of Christ. We will always look back at Bradford Hall as a special place in our lives. Thank you for all the encouragement, advice, meals, hospitality, love, and friendship.

If you feel that a visit to Bradford Hall would help you get reconnected to God or recharge your spiritual batteries, feel free to drop us an email. We would be happy to send you our philosophy of retreat.

Meanwhile, try not to let the RPMs in your life get too high. The Bible portrays God as a potter molding the clay of our pliable personalities into unique individuals equipped for service. “We are like clay, and you are like the potter. You created us,” wrote Isaiah (64:8 CEV). We are the clay to which God wants to transfer His character. He uses labor – and leisure – to transform the whole lump into a useful vessel. May our vessels – our fragile clay pots – draw the attention of someone who has never met the Potter so that he or she too may be crafted for useful service.

August 18, 2006

David Alan Black is the editor of

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