July 15-August 5, 2012, I was blessed to be given the gift of a sabbatical, a time of rest. The leadership in my church freed me from having to keep up with my responsibilities and, in particular, from preaching for the 4 Sundays I was gone. This was a huge blessing.
Some highlights for me on this included:
1) Unhurried time with Meghan – Our life, like many others, is busy. With pastoring a local church, being involved in some opportunities in the community, as well has having 3 very young children, I know I don’t do enough to prioritize unhurried time with my wife. My sabbatical began, at the direction of the Elders, with a Romantic Reflections marriage retreat in Buchanan, MI. Life Action Ministries has a Lodge that is devoted to serving pastors and those in full time Christian work. We were blessed to be with 3 other couples and have unhurried time together. We read, rested, pulled back from busyness and enjoyed our time together.
2) Unwinding with the family – After our marriage retreat, Meg and I loaded up our family and headed to Illinois. Picking up my Mom and attending a family reunion over a weekend, we ended up in Florida, taking our children to the beach for the first time in their lives. We had a good time there. All the kids loved getting in the water and having some time with my Mom. We would typically go out in the AM to the beach and then end up resting in the afternoon before finding something fun to do in the evenings. It was a good time of fun together.
3) Unfastening tires – Like any good family time together (and keeping with our “un” theme), we had our share of frustrations. Whether it was a slow drain in a hotel room, having children get sick, waiting in long lines for meals, having a tire sustain heavy damage on the interstate in rural Kentucky or just dealing with being cooped up together in a van for long time frames, we made some good memories by facing difficulties together. Many parts of each of our hearts were exposed. I’ll remember these times for a while thinking about this trip.
4) Uncovering memories – my sabbatical came on the heels of preaching my paternal grandfather’s funeral. This, coupled with being on the road with my Mom for many hours, brought back many memories from my life. At the reunion, for instance, I learned some things about my Mom’s Dad and our extended family, running a blacksmith shop in the early 20th Century. These memories were definitely a highlight.
5) Unpacking – I’ve lived out of a suitcase for nearly a month and I’m ready for home.
6) Unveiling – My sabbatical ended with me studying the book of Revelation at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. I had the opportunity to have some meetings with people, but much of my time was just praying over and reading the text in slow, undistracted ways. I was able to be near some research and resources that help show me facets of truth I hadn’t seen before. All of this time is helping me to slowly but surely begin to get passed so much of the mystery of this book to unveil the supreme glory of Jesus Christ shining brightly through it.
I’m very blessed in what I was able to do in these 3 weeks. I only hope my passion for God’s glory is unhindered as I continue to live a life unashamed of the Gospel. Thanks to those of you who prayed. I owe you a debt for bringing me to God. Thanks to all who made this possible. I hope there is tangible fruit in my life you are able to see.