Once again, I go to Dale Wolyniak’s quote about a sabbatical, “A ministry sabbatical is ideally quite different from a traditional academic sabbatical or a sabbatical practiced in business. It is about the spirit and soul being refreshed, renewed, and redirected.” As time goes on, I feel my spirit and soul allowing itself to be more refreshed. I see God’s loving hand bringing renewal, the “replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down or broken” in my life.
Redirection is being directed to a new or different place or purpose. As I look ahead to the end of this sabbatical, God is doing His good work in this area as well. One of the great joys of this sabbatical has been all the good reports coming out of our church. So many good things are happening. The pastors are doing a great job. Leaders have stepped up in wonderful ways. We continue to move forward in answering God’s call. God is so faithful and continues to lead our church forward, whether I am there or not. Yes, Jesus said, “I will build My church,” and He is. The church is growing. The leaders are growing. And I must grow as well.
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Ben Franklin
Yes, God has been directing us all to a new place, a new level. Things cannot be the same when I return. It cannot be the “old same old same old.” This is His church and God is bringing redirection in my life as I prepare to head back. A passage that I ponder often is Phil. 3:12-14. Eugene Peterson articulates this passage well in his paraphrase from The Message:
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
God has a call for me that hasn’t changed. It’s not finished yet. I’m on my way. Sometimes, because of my frailty and stubbornness, it’s been two steps forward and one step back. Or times when it has been one step forward and two steps back. I don’t have this all together. I don’t have it made. But I’m on my way. I am far from being an expert but I do have my eye on the goal. And I’m not turning back.
So what how is God redirecting me? In many ways, both big and small.
- He is drawing me closer to Him. I am asking God to teach me how to experience Isa. 26:3-4. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.”
- I am learning to trust Him more and let go of control. How wonderful the words of 2 Pet. 1:3-4. “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”
- He is giving me insights for the next steps of His call for our church and my life. As Grandma Leong loves to pray from Isa. 58:11,“The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring,” I am seeking with renewed passion God’s guidance. I will need God’s guidance now, more than ever.
It’s an exciting time but with all this refreshing, renewing and redirecting going on, God is also preparing me, character-wise to walk in a manner worthy of my calling. I am learning more tough but essential lessons. It’s been difficult to see my weaknesses and my lack of faith exposed by the loving hand of My Father. But it is good. I’m still a person under much construction. But that’s a story for another time.