One day left. As I write, I have one more day until I go on sabbatical. To confess, I am nervous and afraid. What if…? is the question that most hounds me.
What if people don’t understand? What if people don’t agree? What if people need me? What if the organization, the ministry, the work tanks? What if…? And that’s not just all.
What if I don’t use the time well? What if I don’t encounter God? What if I am unable to find rest and renewal. What if…?
I podcasted earlier this week some thoughts on sabbath and sabbatical. As I have been explaining to people, even to my own family — God gave us instructions to rest (people and animals) every week. And God gave instructions to rest (the land) every seventh year. I’ve been at it for nearly 20 years (am I 3x overdue?). I am not a farmer — but my vocation is similar to that of one: there is tilling, planting, cultivating, watering, and harvesting elements to my work.
I wish I had more stories of farmers who actually rested their lands in those seventh years. What happened to them? What happened to the land? Did they survive? Did they crash and burn? Did they and the land flourish?
I recall someone — either a seminary professor or in a book somewhere — stating that there is no evidence that the nation of Israel ever obeyed the command to allow the land to rest every seven years. No evidence! Gulp!
I have known some pastors and ministers to go on sabbatical only to wind up leaving the ministry altogether when they returned — perhaps they were too burned out and the engines never were able to reignite. I have some of these questions as well — I have been going at such a high pace and rate for so long now, how do I slow down? How do I shut off? How do I disengage? (and then how do I get going again?)
Some have wished me well. Some have wondered what exotic location I will be off to or have encouraged me to have a great “time off” — no, it’s none of this. It’s got to be different. It’s not a vacation. It’s not a stay-cation. It’s not _______. But then again, not having ever done this, I can’t quite really say what it is either.
Pray for me. Pray that I find good, soul rest. Pray that I have meaningful time with God. Pray that my spirit and soul awaken to the new thing that God wants to do.