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Pastor Ryan's Sabbatical Reflections: The Gift

Wow! Where to begin? Its hard to summarize or distill a 3 month sabbatical and all of the incredible and transformational things God did in me and my family this summer. Many people have asked what we've learned, how it went and what we did and have graciously waited patiently while I stumbled around trying to come up with a concise answer.

So, I am hoping over the course of the next weeks to answer some of those questions, both for interested people and for myself :) There is no doubt that God did some incredible things. The challenge is putting it into words that can be expressed.

My number one response so far when people ask about this summer is that our sabbatical was a wonderful gift. It was a gift that came at just the right time for me and for our family. A gift that was given so generously by the leaders and people of our church family. A gift that, as we opened it, we kept discovering all the incredible things God had in store for us. Gifts we didn't know were very much needed. It was a gift that was sweet, but had substance, restful but with purpose and renewing for a reason. It was a gift not only for me, but for my wife and kids and, hopefully, a gift for our church as well. In many ways, now that the sabbatical is over, we are continuing to discover the ways that this summer was a gift.

During my sabbatical I developed the discipline of journaling daily. This is not something I previously had done on a daily basis, and it provided a great space for me to sit with Jesus and process each day, what we were doing as a family and what God was doing in me. It was something that I felt like I had time to do because of my sabbatical and it has now become a habit that I have brought with me into my post-sabbatical rhythm and ministry. My plan over these blog posts is to share some of the writings from that journal with all of you, as well as some stories and photos from our sabbatical this summer.

While I'm not committing myself to going chronologically through my sabbatical with you on these blog posts, I wrote this on June 1st, the very first day of my sabbatical:

"It feels like I'm at the top of a roller coaster. All the preparation, the building, and climbing to this moment. Now we start to head down and let gravity guide us. This is why you ride the coaster! It is thrilling, exhilarating. It feels incredibly blissful and peaceful to have nothing to work towards but rest...I know you are the Good Shepherd that will give me rest and renewal. I know you have good things in store for us. I want to experience that abundant life that you promise but that I often don't slow down long enough to take hold of."

While I wouldn't describe every moment of the three months of sabbatical 'blissful and peaceful', the Good Shepherd faithfully led us to rest and renewal.

I am looking forward to sharing with you some of the gifts God (and you) gave my family and I during this sabbatical season.

Stay tuned for a post on "The Gift of Time" later on this week!

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