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Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Difference 6 Months Can Make

I'm nearly at the end of my first unofficial official sabbatical. I wasn't given paid leave by my educational institution. I wasn't told it's time to rest and refresh my heart, mind, and soul by the Church. Nope. I simply knew it was time to take a step back from the "official", organized church experience and garner a new perspective from the heart of God.

It all started back at the end of July. I was finishing up my second masters degree at the University of Dayton and was recently hired by a high school on the west side of Cincinnati to be a school counselor. I was also the part-time interim youth pastor at a local church here in south Dayton. Lots going on. I needed some time away to gather my thoughts, seek some direction, and process what God was up to in my life.

So with the blessing of my wife, I flew to San Diego to spend some time with a couple of great friends and mentors and their families to sort through through my soul (Thanks, Ed/Linda and Marko/Jeannie!).

After some conversations and much prayer about taking a sabbatical from church, I took the unconventional step of faith into this new place. And it's been good, very good, for me.

Here are a few of quick learnings and healings:

1. God has been so good to me. Specifically for me in this season that has practically translated into this deep sense that He is being very patient with me and very gracious. Who walks away from "the bride of Christ" and feels like the Groom is saying, "Go for it. It's all good. In fact, I'll be right there with you loving my time with you."?

2. The Church is a wonderful people and place. I'm excited about re-entering the stream of community that is so vital to me (and the rest of us for that matter) as we live life on the mountain tops, valley bottoms, and every terrain in between. I'm excited about using my life, experiences, gifts, and faith to love and lead people to Jesus.

3. I find myself spiritually healthier as I experience the family of God that gathers in formal and informal settings. What does that mean? I find myself less cynical, critical, and even bitter at times as I walk with the broken people of God and the organism charged with going into all the earth to join with the active work of God in redeeming a lost and broken world. Because I feel I have been judged harshly in my work for God, I was turning around judging the work of the Church more harshly, too. I sense that God has been healing that area in subtle and profound ways...grace. And I was in turn giving that grace back to the people and place that hurt me...grace. Grace received. Grace given away.

There is so much more and I am slowly understanding it. Patiently. Graciously. Courageously.

My family (Kelly/kids, immediate family/parents/bros/sis) has been great...thanks! Some key friends here in Dayton and around the country have been good for me, too, asking questions, pushing my thinking, and praying for the whole of me. Thanks!

I know more stuff will rise to the surface of my life in the next six months and beyond - healthy and unhealthy. And because of this intentional sabbatical, I am better prepared to receive that stuff (whatever that "stuff" is), work with it alongside Jesus, and be transformed.

1 comment:

Matt and Toni Rings said...

Seth, it is good to read of your journey, and that the journey has taken you to a better place, and in deeper relationship to the Lord, with less cynicism.

As you share, my own journey gets better, too...

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