Sabbatical Update #3

Sabbatical Update #3

Real change, that is out of our control, is difficult for everyone. For sure – some people are wired to like new things and some are wired to like constancy. However you are wired – when “real change” comes that is out of your control – it is difficult. I like change. I like new things. I like adventures without plans. However – I have noticed I like change the most when I am in the driver’s seat. In other words, if I am in charge of starting the change, or, if I am literally in charge of driving the car on the adventure without a plan – I love it. If however, the change is out of my control, then I get a little weird like everyone does. If a lot of changes are happening out of my control – then I got a lot weird and change is difficult for me. There is a lot of change going on out of my control right now. Here are a few of those things …

I turned 51 recently and I’m happy and sad. I am happy because there is wisdom in many years walking with Jesus. I am sad because I’m going through man-o-pause. Not sure if it is a real thing – but here is my description. Everything in my body hurts and every function in my body … is changing. Will, our 18 year-old, is headed off to college in less than two months. I am happy for him – college is a blast and can be one of the best times in life. I am sad for me as he leaves. Life is forever changing in our house and it is “out of my control”. Cade, our 15 year-old, is learning to drive. This makes me happy and sad – for all sorts of reasons. My parents recently moved to St. Louis. I am sad that this is the first time we have lived in the same city since I was 18. I am happy we get to be together – very happy. There are things changing in the church as we grow and things changing about my role as we grow. I could go on and on … and on. These are the major things and they all have one thing in common – they are real change – out of my control. And, all these things turn up the “weird” meter in my heart and behavior. When I think on these things, when I dwell on these things –I don’t rest in my body or soul. End result – I feel tired and I crave rest I cannot seem to find.

Something happened on my way to “rest” during this sabbatical – I was getting more and more tired. I thought it was due to a busy travel schedule, but it wasn’t. Last night, sitting under the stars in the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming – something changed. I was thinking about bears. Bears. Grizzly bears all over this part of the world in the wild and my brother and I are heading into that wild to hike and camp for the better part of 10 days. So, I was thinking about bears. Funny (not really) thing, I couldn’t sleep or rest last night. Change of out control = no rest. Last night it hit me in the face in a tangible way. And, as I laid in my bed, the words of the Lord began to echo in my head – “The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) Through His Word written almost a thousand years ago – God was speaking to me in real time. My translation:
About the “control” thing John – nothing is truly ever in your control. You just think you are in control at times. You live in world where you believe there are things you control. When you are in control – most of the time things are good. When things change dramatically and rush out of your control – you get stressed and tired. Rest is hard to find. TRUTH – you are never in control, but GOD – God is in control at all times. Resting in this truth – you will find real rest.

I laid in my bed wrestling with these words from God and their truth. I have been living in a “Matrix” type illusion and it had been doing great damage to my soul. My heart and mind have been presented with truth straight from God’s mouth. The question now is (to stay on the Matrix movie metaphor) – will I take the truth from God and begin to let it shape where and whom I go to find rest. Or, will I keep believing the illusion (that for some reason I seem to do quite willing).

This is not a blog that ends with a perfect ending that I can wrap in a poetic bow. No, rather – this story ends with a prayer of confession and need. So, here’s my prayer. Maybe it is prayer you need to voice.

Lord, I confess I am a weak man who thinks he is strong. I rest in my ability to control life – and I like this control. I have failed to believe – I am never in control and my control eventually leaves me stressed and tired. I have failed to believe – You alone are in control of all things. I confess this has led me to seek rest in anything and everything – but You. Let me walk in the forgiveness you give me in Christ’s perfect life, death, and resurrection.
Lord, I need You to help me believe Your truth. I am in control of nothing and You are in control of all things. I need You to help me believe – You are in control and You give real rest to my body and soul as I rest in your control. Lord, I know I will wrestle with this. I will struggle to believe. Help me believe. Help saturate my mind and heart with Your truth and Your presence. Give me rest in You.

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