Wednesday, September 28, 2011


As I have prayed about this sabbatical for oh, at least the last six months -- probably more, but I don't want to exaggerate -- the message I've continually received in response has been "Rest."  This message has come through any number of different means.  Sometimes it's been an almost-audible voice in my thoughts.  Other times it's been a compelling sense that I'm supposed to read a certain book or a certain portion of scripture that directs me to rest.  Other times individuals have prayed for me and spoken this sense that they had about the agenda for my time away -- and it has always come down, one way or another, to rest.

So now I'm almost two weeks into this sabbatical.  It's been a challenge to rest.  At times I can't get to sleep at night (like tonight).  At times I occupy myself with an agenda -- a list of to-do items, or a project that I think needs to be done, or that I have promised to someone else.  Sometimes I have a situation -- a vehicle that needs repairing, or a daughter that needs to get to class. So I find myself running around, working on things, scrambling to complete my agenda.

One of the real joys for me has been that lately I have had more time than usual to read scripture.  I started back in August reading the gospels, and today finished my first time through.  I'm going to start again through Matthew.  I'm trying to get to know Jesus better, and I don't know a better way.  That's been fun.

Rest is hard to come by, and I am saying that as a man on a sabbatical.  How difficult it is for most of us to rest when we are in the throes of jobs, schedules, social engagements, volunteer activities, and all the rest!  I at least have the excuse that I am on sabbatical.  Most of us are haring here and there all over creation.

Once, many weeks ago, when I was praying, presenting my list of Sabbatical Agenda Items to God for his approval, he told me to Rest, and to let go of my agenda.  I wanted to make sure he knew what he was asking me to do.  So I said, "You know, don't you, that for me rest in the fall means sitting in a treestand?"  At the risk of saying too much, I had the distinct impression that God laughed, as if amused by the idea that I could surprise him.  I have spent a great deal of time and energy since that day praying about, testing, pondering, and praying about what I am to do on my sabbatical.  Always the theme is the same: Rest.  And I have the distinct impression God knows that my version of rest will include a great deal of hunting, and that he's okay with that.  (For the record, I have tried hard to adjust my sabbatical agenda to include writing, teaching, studying, reading, and other such "productive" pursuits, and I have been stymied at every turn.  Sometimes scholars debate about just what is meant in Acts 16 when Luke says that Paul attempted to go into Bithynia but "the Spirit of God would not allow" this course of action.  I'm convinced after the last six months that God has many, many possible ways to deter his followers from any given course of action, if they are attentive.)

So I've spent some time working on a few other projects, getting vehicles in working order, doing fall projects, enjoying a good deal of time with my wife, and I'm starting to get ready for a few different hunting excursions.    It's easy for me to fall into one of two ditches as I do this.  First, there's a ditch in  which I believe these are just hunting trips like any other hunting trips and the biggest thing to do is get away and try to shoot a grouse, a deer, a coyote, or whatever, and have a good time.  The other ditch, the opposite error, is to think that these are going to be amazing, special, restful, spiritual hunting trips and that God is going to show up in some burning-bush way.

At the moment, I'm just doing my best to be obedient.  If I am obedient as best I am able to the best of what I understand God has been saying, then I figure it's his business to handle the outcomes.

There's a lot of truth in that.  Usually the problem with us is not our schedules or our agendas, but our hearts -- because our hearts don't want to be obedient to the little bit of God's will that we do know.  If we were obedient to that little bit of God's will we know about, he'd bless us in ways we'd find hard to believe.  But our hearts are hardened, willful, and self-centered.  If I have a prayer on my way out to the woods, it's just this:  I want to be obedient, Lord.  You told me to rest.  Here I am.  I want to know you, I want to meet you, I want to see you, I want to grow into the image of Jesus.  I trust that you want that, too, and this command you've given me is going to lead me in that direction.  Here I am.


  1. I came across this while looking for something else entirely (a lost HS classmate of my wife's, Francesca Krogstad), and liked the few posts I browsed through. We were Lutherans early in our marriage - my people had gone to Gethsemane Lutheran since coming to America, until my mother defected to the Congregationalists. (Long, boring story) - We are now Covenanters, so your issues with ELCA, and belief, and perseverance in the faith resonate with me.

    If on sabbatical you are looking for thought patterns that are different but not wildly so, you might drop by my site. The front page doesn't currently have much directly on faith topics, but they seem to creep in on just about everything. I do have some upcoming posts on the Rob Bell controversy - I wanted to ignore it, but it has penetrated the younger generation of our circle, so I shall weigh in. Short version: great in theory, thoroughly irritating in execution.

    So drop by.

    If you prefer visuals, my son is a church filmmaker outside of Houston, and they have been doing a recent "I Am Second" series. Here's one: I've got plenty of other sons, American and Romanian, but he's the only one with web presence.

  2. Finally had time to watch your son's youtube video. Powerful. Thanks for stopping in! I will be checking out your site as well.