Crestview Faith Family,
Missing you and the everyday life of ministry, leadership, community, and relationships at Crestview Church during this time of sabbatical. Yet, I am beginning to experience the beauty and wonder of this renewal time. As Deone and I have returned from ‘phase one’ of sabbatical time in Michigan, I will be entering into ‘phase two’ of sabbatical today (Sat July 9th). Phase one could be summed up as ‘friends and family.’
Phase one has been filled with people connections, journaling, reading, and reflection. I’ve been able to meet with two key mentors in my life, three other colleagues in ministry, several close friends, and spend some wonderful time with Deone, our daughters and their families, and several family members including my mom. And I am continuing to engage in the ‘Read through the Bible’ as many of you are.
This time included a visit to Iowa, 3 day outing with Deone in Sleeping Bear National Recreation Area with Deone, 3 day stay with our entire family, and a 3 day solo time in Michigan, a 213 mile race across the state of Michigan, and a 17 hour road trip X2 to Michigan and back to Boulder, CO. And throughout this time, I have been journaling personal reflections, reading some books (one good one has been A non-anxious presence – How a Changing and Complex
World Will Create a Remnant of Renewed Christian Leaders by Mark Sayer), chronicling the insights of those I meet on the topic of God’s Will/Plan, our will/plan, and revisiting the many personality and spiritual assessment testing results and insights I have taken over the years, including a more recent assessment called the Birkman Assessment. It has all been very good to sort through, ponder, reflect, and draw some key learning insights.
As I enter ‘phase two’ of sabbatical time, it could be summed up as ‘wilderness and solitude.’ My plan and the Lord’s plans woven together, ‘Lord willing’, is to enter into the mountains and trails of Colorado – some bike packing both solo and with other colleagues, family, and friends – some occasional bike racing – with reading, reflecting, journaling, and resting along the way.
As I bike through some tough terrain, traverse above tree-line, the bumps and curves of slick rock, the forests and valley floors, camp along clear water creeks – may my paths, desires and passions come in line with those of my Creator, Redeemer and Lord. I ask for your prayers for God to meet me in ways that physical, mental and spiritual challenge along with silence, surrender, and solitude can bring. Pray that in the wilderness experiences both alone and with others, God will meet me, revealing himself in ways only his will and power can break through. My plan is to further unplug from what Henri Nouwen identifies as ‘a toxic social network that gives a warped sense of self, stimulating a need for ongoing and increasing affirmation. Where perception becomes king. Jesus was also tempted to be ‘relevant, spectacular, and powerful’ by the Devil. And in the wilderness, he affirmed his identity in God.” These temptations are very real for us, for me, today. The wilderness is a good place to affirm my identity in Christ. A wilderness ‘detox’ from the things that prop up the secular and false self.
Mark Sayer in his book, a non-anxious presence, says this about wilderness, “…the wilderness is a place of shepherding, challenge and confrontation where one can find glory, strength, and relationship with God. Mark Sayer says the wilderness is the place to find restoration of a ‘holy set apartness’, where God becomes primary and all other things orient around it.
The ‘differentiation’ that occurs in the wilderness leads to a ‘dependence on God.’ It’s good to come face to face with our ‘nothingness’ from time to time… the wilderness does that. So here’s to phase two of sabbatical. Starting today.
‘The Lord bless you and keep you and cause his face to shine upon you,’