Today, I had to release many things in my quiet time with the Lord. I did this in the morning and again in the evening when I followed the prayer of Examen. I realize that I’ve been grieving on my sabbatical with plans thwarted. (I’ve also realized I’ve been grieving the past year over hopes and dreams, but that’s perhaps for another post…) Some of you reading this have had so much more to release and so much more to grieve than me. This, is my itty bitty story…
Before my sabbatical, there was a pastor who warned me to make plans and cut them in half and then cut them in half again. I ran into his wife the other day who shared the full story of his sabbatical experience. It was a hard one for him to learn. Within the first month he went back to the office to work. He couldn’t easily take the act of not doing ministry; of not being Martha and instead of being Mary lingering at Jesus’ feet. His leadership asked him to make a list of things to do and cut it in half and then cut it in half again. If he was to return to the office before the end of the sabbatical, he would be fired.
As I look back so far at my sabbatical; two months out of the three, I think 90% of my plans, which have been very few, have fallen through. Instead, the things that other people have planned for me, or unexpected meet ups, or unexpected promptings and nudges have been sweet surprises.
Instead of planned events and outings, (honestly, I’ve barely driven anywhere as I’ve rediscovered my beautiful neighbourhood), the majority of my time has been spent quietly in the presence of God, much like Brother Lawrence and his practice of the presence of God. I have read his journals and others who practiced the same way of being constantly mindful of Jesus’ faithful presence. Throughout the day, I’ve learned, more than ever before, to speak words of worship to him, to call on his name, to give thanks, to cry out to him, to be in tune and alert to his presence around me.
This once high-energy and highly driven person has somehow learned to be completely at peace doing nothing in the presence of God and listening for his voice and speaking to him. An hour or two will go by and it’ll feel like an instant. And I come away feeling absolutely full. I didn’t spend this precious time with unnecessary noise in order to suppress longing or appetite. I didn’t even spend it doing research and deep Bible study in order to satisfy my hunger for knowledge. Instead, I spent hours simply and quietly with Jesus, the creator of the universe who somehow loves me even as if I were his favorite. He is holy. I am so unworthy and yet he loves me. Embracing this truth in a way without interruption or even without another’s interpretation has completely wrecked me, in a wonderful new way.
So, I have learned to hold plans loosely, and I’ve learned to just sit in his lap and linger and become completely overwhelmed with his love for me.
Today’s Jesus Calling for kids (May 16) summarizes my sabbatical pretty spot on…
“I Am Lord!”
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21
“I am your Lord! I am the Friend who is always with you, but you must remember that I am also your Lord. I am King over all. And I want to be the King of your life.
As you begin each day, talk to Me about it. And as you go through your day, keep checking in with Me. Keep asking for My guidance. It’s okay to make some plans, but be open to changes in those plans. I may have other ideas for your day.
Don’t try to skip ahead or take shortcuts. Concentrate on the task that is right before you. Do your very best at that. Then trust Me to show you what to do next. I will guide you step by step, leading you along a path of peace.”