This Season of Sabbatical

It came out of nowhere really and now that it’s coming to a close, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  This season of sabbatical.    A time when I took my hands off of something that was so much a part of my life for some thirteen years now.  Ministry at my local church. 

God created for six days and on the seventh day, He rested.  He blessed that seventh day and the Scriptures say that He made it holy.  You know the story.  You know the admonition. Rest, people.  REST.  But oftentimes we think to ourselves that putting this principle into practice is more of a burden than it is a blessing.  A rule we should follow rather than a regular routine that refreshes us in the Lord.

Most of us know we have this all wrong, but we choose not to do anything about it because it seems so risky to rest.  To take the tight grip off it all and just let go for a season.  Let go and let God, when it comes to the people and the things in life that we are most passionate about, is just a cute little saying that makes so much sense in theory but hardly ever gets put into practice.

The risks are more obvious to us than ever when we’re faced head-on with the challenge of letting go.

What will happen to _______ if I let go?  Who will take care of _______?   Why should I let go of _______?   Is_______ going to be okay? 

The answers to those questions are found in one simple truth:   _______ wasn’t ours in the first place.  _______will be okay because_______ has always been in God’s hands and will continue to be held by Him. 

When we agree with this, resting can then take place.  The sabbatical can begin.  During this designated time, we intentionally retreat from the work, the everyday responsibilities, the tasks that abound, the burdens of carrying and the need to do.  We are still.  We are peaceful.  We are focused.  We are listening and we are seeking. It’s a quiet-on-the-outside yet active-on-the-inside process that occurs in the depths of our hearts as we draw closer to God.  And just like He blessed the seventh day and made it holy, He blesses and makes holy our seasons of sabbatical as well.

My sabbatical season is ending with a recognition that He has blessed it and, indeed, it has been holy. This time of pausing to purposefully be in the presence of God has been precious.  I am walking away from it refreshed, encouraged, and renewed.  With a clear sense of direction.  Not with a step-by-step instructional to-do list.  Not with every single open-ended question about what is next answered.  But I am leaving this time of retreating with two powerful reminders:  We walk by faith, not by sight.  And our dependence is solely upon Christ. 

Our blanks are our people, our things, and the possibilities that we hold dear to our hearts.  I wonder . . . Is it time for you, too, to let go and let God with one, or maybe all, of your blanks?  Perhaps God is calling you to a sabbatical of some kind.  A retreat, a time of intense focus on Him and who He is in your life.  We can surely say, without a doubt, that He’s calling each and every one of us to trust, is He not? 

My people.  My passions.  My possibilities.  They are the Lord’s.  May He bless them and keep them and make them holy unto Himself. 

“The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ ”  ~ Exodus 33: 14

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