“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.” -Jesus
If you’ve read the blogs so far, you might get the impression that every single moment of the sabbatical was pure bliss. While most of it really was quite incredible. Not every part of it was rainbows and unicorns.
There was a gift of grace during the sabbatical that was definitely the most challenging gift to receive, and perhaps the most important.
We were mostly at home during the month of July after we returned from Costa Rica, though Levi and I had a great time on a 3 day fishing/camping trip together while the girls were at their summer camp. It was great to spend time with Levi doing something we both love and building those relational pathways together.
I think some of the challenge of this phase came because the ‘big trip’ was done and it wasn’t quite time to start ‘getting ready’ for the final phases of the sabbatical. I found myself anxious and frustrated at times, unsure what I was supposed to be ‘doing’. Thankfully, my discipline of journaling and being with Jesus in the mornings revealed my continual tension of balancing the ‘doing’ and ‘being’ in my own life that a normal rhythm and full schedule would mask. Why do I measure my days by what I accomplish? Why do I need to please everyone around me all the time?
I am also grateful that I had had multiple check-ins with my counselor in this phase and also a spiritual direction session with my sabbatical coach. They were able to help me see that God was using this third phase of the sabbatical to do some ‘inner work’ in me that would be much harder in the other phases when we were traveling or when I returned to regular rhythms and ministry. This allowed me, even though it was uncomfortable, to explore with Jesus some of the not so awesome parts of myself that He is continually transforming and to rest in the reality that I’m not perfect. Jesus began teaching me how to ‘learn the unforced rhythms of grace’, embracing my limits and finiteness and seeing some of the places where God was inviting me to growth and transformation.
These lessons, the ones I like to learn the least, were some of the most important lessons of the sabbatical. I was still me. Still limited. Still flawed. Still in need of God’s grace each and every day. This phase was a reminder that God was, and is, desiring to do a deep and transformative work in me (and each of us, for that matter) that goes beyond rest and enters into the deep shalom and restoration of receiving daily the gift of grace that only God can give us through the power of His Holy Spirit.
I’m truly grateful for this gift. Thanks be to God.