I've been on an unscheduled Sabbatical for three years. Brief tours of duty with two national ministries came to an abrupt halt in the fall of 2006. The shock to my system was severe. Imagine a train going from 100mph to Zero in a second. It's disorienting to say the least.
Mama always told me that if God is going to use a man that He'll crush the man. Sign me up??
So, what happens when a divine directive comes down to put you on Sabbatical from rabid "doing" for God? Answer: He begins to do a work in you. Question: Will you cooperate?
The seeming lack of productivity during such a season betrays the fact that much is transpiring within. In truth, it's a gift that few choose to give to themselves...a prolonged season of contemplation, learning, character examination and growth. Why? That's easy. Because it's so painful. Loss after loss, after loss.
Doing is addictive. The rush comes from being needed, being important, being adored, being...being...being...being somebody as validated by meaningful doing. But who are you and what is your value when that is absent? The truth is that all of those things are impostors for what we really need, and at the deepest level, what we REALLY want.
Rich Mullins sang, "What we say is that we need just one thing (Jesus), but what we mean is that we just need one thing more (possession, position, power, etc.). His satire referred to the insatiable appetite for all of the false gods that temporarily satisfy, but eventually fade. Hmmm....that reminds of a well-known verse. "Store up your treasures in Heaven..."
Every time my sabbatical has threatened to come to an end I've grieved. Something tells me that when it ends (and I do have faith that it will end) I'm going to miss it and be nostalgic for it. It's been a remarkable crucible that I wouldn't have chosen, but wouldn't have missed. There's no way I/we (yes, Father has been processing the wonderful woman connected to me) could have grown more dependent on God and learned the volumes of things we have about Him, each other, our life purpose (calling), etc.
When Papa gives us more to do there will come the question, "How will I engage doing differently?" Tom Wymore has made a significant contribution to my thinking about that question through his commitment to not do ministry on adrenaline, but rather out of peace. (www.tomwymore.blogspot.com). What does that mean? Simply stated, we won't press to do, but rather agree to do when invited and He puts His peace on it. That means lots of prayer and connectedness that we might approach the being/doing balance that Jesus modeled.
The experts say that seasons of hiddenness are followed by greater productivity than before (the bearing of more fruit). As good as that will be for the Kingdom of God, I don't want it to be the kind of fruit that satisfies my deepest hunger. Only He can do that in the deepest and best way, and that happens in quiet solitude. (Some would argue it's not so quiet when I break out in worship singing, :))
Who do I have in Heaven but You? (Ps 73), and Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere...
Learning to be content in all circumstances,
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