Wow. In some ways it doesn’t feel like 12 weeks have passed, and in some ways it feels like so much more. As I look back at the last twelve weeks, I can see so many things that I’ve learned, so many things that I’m coming out of this with that I didn’t walk into it with. Most of all, I feel more rested and renewed than I have in years.
Sabbatical was intended to be a time when those in academia and ministry could pull aside every seven years in order to replenish their reserves. We are all given the gift of Sabbath each week (whether we choose to avail ourselves of it is another story), but sabbatical was to be a special time specifically geared toward “refilling the tank” for those who are constantly pouring out into others. And that’s exactly how I feel – like my tank is filled.
I’ve accomplished many of the goals that I had when I began, and I’ve learned much that I didn’t expect to learn (including some things about myself). I’ve spent time in intentional learning settings, in places WAY outside my norm, and in periods of reflection and meditation on Scripture. I have worshipped with brothers and sisters in other churches in northern Virginia and around the world during the last 12 weeks. I have prayed much. And I believe I have a renewed sense of clarity and purpose. What a blessing this time has been.
And now it’s time to return to the work God has called me to, to the church God has called me to, and I’m looking forward to it. Really. I’m looking forward to seeing friends who are like family, to seeing those I serve with who are “closer than a brother,” and to rejoining the work of God in this place. There is MUCH to do – there are MANY who do not yet know Jesus – and we have been given our mission by the One we serve.
The picture above is of the Siq in Petra. It’s the main entrance to the city; you come through this dim and in places fairly narrow gorge for about a mile until it opens up into the city of Petra. The first thing you see is the Treasury building, carved out of the sandstone rock face. Truly remarkable and awe inspiring to be sure. And as I think about “re-entry” after sabbatical, I think about the Siq. I didn’t know what was around the corner exactly, but I went in with anticipation, excitement, and expectancy. So too with this.
Sunday’s going to be a great service, but why wait till Sunday to celebrate and thank God? Today I’m celebrating all that He has done in my life and at Southview during my absence. I’m celebrating being a part of a church that is focused beyond itself, that is focused on doing what Jesus said, even when it’s hard. I’m celebrating the baptism that is happening this Sunday at Southview! I’m celebrating what God WILL do in the days ahead. I continue to believe more than ever that the best is yet to come, Southviewers – it’s going to be great!!
See you Sunday!