What a fabulous sabbatical. The first month was quite difficult actually. The beauty of our setting was in combat with our own internal wrestle to rest. Amazingly challenging.
The second month was so much better. God was able to sooth my soul. Being a person driven by mission, giving time to personal reflection was a new motivation. God was so good. He did three things actually:
1. He refreshed me. After 30 years of salaried ministry [ we are all full time], we had to give ourselves some time to pause, reflect, debrief and let the waters of divine grace wash our souls with his love. The perspective one gets from these moments [set against the beauty of Laguna Beach], is very empowering. I have certainly not done all to his glory. At times I have used God words to hide my own naked ambition in the shroud of veiled ego. Humbling to sit in that great audience of one and face up to that - yet not with judgement but with gratitude. I felt like the Father was actually pleased and thankful for our story, our obedience, our faith. Those moments are some of the most sublime of my life.
2. He healed me. Like any athlete, the privilege of the race is often matched with the injuries one picks up along the way. I had to face up to my limps - some of my own making. Others from those closest to us. The journey we have had, one that has been pioneering, radical, jungle cutting was always going to leave the bleeding evidence of the trail. At times it was my own foolishness that caused the pain. At other times it was the work of the enemy in the lives of others to sow destruction. However the deepest pain is always found by those closest to us - 'et tu Brute' I believe Caesar said... or 'do what you have to do' Jesus said to Judas. Paul said 'even Demas has forsaken me'. Nothing can prepare us for that, and yet no ministry story is without that pain. God needed to heal me. And he did, but not without deep times of petition appeal.
3. He directed me. At the age of 55, I have one more 'at bat'. The next 25 years simply have to count. I loved the unfolding clarity that those days brought. It is not glamourous, or sexy. It is simply beautiful - empowering folks on their God journey... putting them on their global gospel story.
I am going to spend the next few blogs, talking around the DNA / distinctives that have shaped our lives and now will forge this apostolic future.