Well almost! This will be the last blog about our time away on sabbatical, next week we will be back.
We said that this would be a very personal experience for us as we took time away from the busy life of church and ministry. It's true we have learnt some new facts and explored some new ideas and concepts which we will share with you over the coming weeks but at its heart this has been a very personal journey.
For almost four weeks I stuggled with not 'doing'. I am a driven person and anyone who knows me knows that I hate being still and will rush from one job to another, so what do you do when there are no church things to do, ironing and hoovering all help to fill in the time but it's not the same. It really has taken me 4 weeks to stop rushing about and to be still and smell the roses, but now I have to force myself to get on and do something.....well sometimes at least.
God has been reminding me he wants me. Not what I do or even what I say but me. I have always known this; I have been a follower of Jesus for years, a disciple; yet this last few weeks have driven this home, praying more, going to more meetings, reading more none of this is worth anything unless we stop and spend time with our Saviour, not just ranting or crying or mumbling our prayers but taking time to be in His presence and to hear what He has to say, to see what He has to show and maybe to feel what He want us to feel.
I said a few weeks ago about being given some years ago a prayer stick as a prophetic picture that God sees me as a man of prayer, and how this stick has spent years sitting on a shelf. I have become that man of prayer but I still hadn't seemed to realize it fully. I don't have to do more just BE. Stop trying and just be the man that God wants to communicate with. So this last week I took that prayer stick down from its shelf; I have stripped it to pieces and rebuilt it, smoothing the wood, getting rid of the knots, dying the wood, then polishing it and finally replacing the leather work. Now its MY prayer stick not one that I had just been given.
It doesn't have any power, or magic; its still just a piece of wood but its a prophetic picture to me, reminding me that God sees me as a man of prayer. It doesn't mean He will answer me more than you or speak to me more than you. No, it means I have recognised that He and I have a unique and special relationship that is exclusive to us. Your relationship with Him will be different but just as unique and special. It's time to take stock and stop trying to be like anyone else and just be yourself, you and Jesus.
Ann says: I have just sat and listened to Derrick read this blog aloud to me with tears running down his face. I find that I am choked up, too, because this is exactly what God has been saying to me, but we have not sat down together to talk about how each of us has been affected by our Sabbatical, until today. The single word that has impacted me most these last weeks has been the Hebrew word 'selah'. We find it mainly in the Psalms, usually at the end of a short section. It is difficult to translate and means something like 'wait here, rest, ponder, think, consider etc.' It has come up time and again in what I have been reading and listening to, and each time I have felt the Lord say to me 'Listen, take note. Don't rush on, spend time with Me!'
May we recommend this practice to you of resting in His presence, 'not rushing away but cherishing each moment'. And as you do:May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.'