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Thursday, June 23, 2022

PA grand canyon
The Pine Creek Gorge in Tioga County PA is known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.

"Eternal Vacation"

Message summary: Heaven will be our eternal vacation where we will rest from all our earth bound labors! So as you labor on here below, doing menial tasks or undertaking challenging duties, seek to please Christ and keep your light shining bright as you contemplate that our best vacation is yet to come.

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"'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).

The last four days I visited northern PA with the Lapp family where I took them for their family vacation. They are a hardworking family operating the Old Windmill Farm and the four older children have separate jobs as well so they were looking forward to this family vacation. They also know that in several years the older children will likely be establishing their own homes.

We had a long drive up (over three hours) in a 15 passenger van that pulled a trailer full of bikes, from Lancaster County to Tioga County to the house they had rented. Then the big job of unloading for a family of nine became quite an endeavor. As they unloaded their youngest child, 4 year old Stephen, had a queried look on his face and asked his mom, "Where's the vacation at?" In his young mind a vacation was not a trip but an object or thing!

They had a great time over the two full days we were there with a family bike ride along the Pine Creek Rail Trail, a trip to the rim to look down on the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, a swim in a mountain lake, and probably our highlight was the late night trip to a dark sky park with a magnificent view of the night sky. (I'll share about this tomorrow.)

"Vacation" is a concept not mentioned in the Bible. God commanded a day of rest each week but apart from that taking a vacation as we mean it to today is not addressed. A vacation is defined as "a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation" such as a restful vacation at the beach.

When our family travels we like to do and see things and really, it's not very restful, but informative and exploratory while many vacationers are just content hanging around in a place that's away from home. Essentially a vacation is a period of time when using the words from our daily text, we rest from our labors.

But all earthly vacations or excursions will come to an end. Yesterday morning the children played in the creek and delayed as long as possible before the inevitable long ride back home. Today farm tours are scheduled and the older children go back to work. My role as their driver and being away from my family didn't officially "qualify" as a vacation for me. But as a close friend (family like)  I still had a great time, though now I'm back to my work as well.

When Anna Ruth told me little Stephen asked "Where's the vacation?" I thought of a song I like to play when our family is on vacation, especially when we travel along Rt 66; "Eternal Vacation" by Dailey and Vincent (see link below to listen).

And I prepare to meet Jesus and rest eternally there
Yes someday I'll take a vacation one that never will end
When I'll cross old river Jordan my Saviour will welcome me in
For me the gates will swing open and I'll have a mansion within
There I will rest up in heaven a rest that never will end

Heaven will be our eternal vacation where we will rest from all our earth bound labors! So as you labor on here below, doing menial tasks or undertaking challenging duties, seek to please Christ and keep your light shining bright as you contemplate that our best vacation is yet to come. I can assure you, once you reach that eternal vacation spot you won't ask "Where's the vacation" you'll know you have finally arrived at the location you have longed for all your life. And it WILL NEVER END!

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, how I long to breathe the air of Heaven "where pain is gone and mercy fills the streets; to look upon the One who bled to save me and walk with Him for all eternity". But until You call me to my eternal home I choose to experience Your grace and mercy on this side of glory, to walk day by day with my eyes fixed on an eternal and everlasting vacation in heaven. The thrill of living in a sin free environment where You are physically present and where aging, suffering, and death do not exist will change all the heartache we know on earth into unending joy and gladness and gratitude for all eternity; gratitude to Christ "who yielded His life our redemption to win, and opened the life-gate that all may go in." We will be forever grateful. Amen.

"Hymn of Heaven" by Phil Wickham
"To God Be the Glory" by Fanny Crosby

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Eternal Vacation"  Video  Dailey and Vincent

"Hymn Of Heaven"  Video  Phil Wickham

"The Old Windmill Farm" The Lapp family have been our friends for nearly twenty years. We met Jesse and Anna right after they got married and were our neighbors here on Kraybill Church Road. At that time he was a stone mason. About five years later they moved back to the home farm where Jesse was a dairy farmer. About five years ago they established the Old Windmill Farm, giving authentic Amish farm tours and my, oh my, has God blessed this endeavor. In 2021 they won a TripAdvisor Traveler's Choice award. I read Jesse the many June reviews on TripAdvisor and we rejoiced at God's goodness since they also seek to be a witness for Christ.

Today we share some photos of some photos of the Pennsylvania Wilds region in the north-central part of the state.

PA grand canyon waterfall
The children enjoyed climbing up this waterfall run. The area has been very dry so there wasn't much flow. The boys had hoped to kayak down Pine Creek but it was too low.

PA grand canyon trail ride
The entire family of nine enjoyed riding along the Pine Creek rail trail including 4 year old Stephen who had just learned to ride a bike.

Rustic Potter County PA cabin
The Lapps rented a house for 3 nights right along Pine Creek that really worked well for them. I found this very rustic cabin for $35.00 per night which was suitable for me. I talked it up with Brooksyne in my phone calls and suggested we might want to stay in this cabin on our next bike trip to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon! She wanted me to send her photos to think it over since she thought the price was too good to be true. I'm afraid she was not too keen on the idea after she saw the photos, so it might not be in our "together" future.

Darryl Eyler
Tuesday morning I ate breakfast with my long-time friend Darryl Eyler who pastors a church not far from where we stayed. Brooksyne and I worked with Darryl twenty years ago as a chaplain when we worked for Marketplace Chaplains. He is a steadfast man who endured inevitable grief after losing his first wife to cancer. But the Lord brought another godly woman in his life, who had also lost a husband. Each of them brought two children into their blended family and God blessed them with a young daughter of their own.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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