Saturday, July 3, 2021

Receiving Sabbatical | A Personal Invitation into Rest w/ Jesus (A Pause: Next Post Will Be in October 2021)


The Bible Project | Holy, Healing, Whole-making Rest in Jesus


My Presence Will Go with You and I Will Give You Rest. + Exodus 33:14


How are we being offered holy whole-making rest from God in 2021? 

I have been given the honor of 7+ years of vocational ministry as a pastor in Worcester, Massachusetts. And I'm anticipating with hope and wonder another 7+ years. In order to step into this next part of the journey with Jesus well, I took a small retreat in February to be still and listen to God, wondering how He wanted me to approach what is next with my family, Emmaus City Church, and all the neighbors, friends, family, and strangers I get to live this abundant life with in Worcester. 

With time in the Scriptures and listening in the Spirit of the living God, I think I heard Him whisper two things:

Get some rest (Hebrews 4:1-4). 
&

Get to work (Haggai 2:4-5). 


My default when I think about my life is often the repeated phrase, "What do I need to be doing more or better ... ?" So I think "Get some rest" is something I need to listen to and obey. Of course, for me, it's so easy to bypass that first invitation and just go with "Get to work" again. I need God to guide me into a rest of His making rather than my own. 

I love how A.J. Swoboda addresses some of this surrender to the rest only God can give in "Chapter 8 | A Wanderer's Rest" of his book, The Dusty Ones:


As Americans, we see rest as largely environmental and emotional. We see rest as something that's fundamentally self-created, self-initiated, and self-made. The Bible takes no such individualistic perspective on the topic of rest. Nor is rest something that comes with getting our lives in order necessarily. Rest, as we come to find in the story of Moses in the desert, is something God finds on our behalf. "The Lord went before them ... to find them a place to rest" (Numbers 10:33). What kind of God does this? What kind of God has time, let alone a passion, for finding rest? ... While other gods may demand seven days of work with no rest whatsoever, this God is different. The gods of contemporary society rebel against this kind of Sabbath insistence. Get to work, they say, never rest. Or you'll get the pink slip. ... The first thing in the Bible that God makes holy is a day, the Sabbath day. And when Sabbath isn't honored, all of God's creation begins to break down. In the same way that God invented the sun for our plants to make chlorophyll, God invented rest that we might live and enjoy living. + pgs. 134-135

In my own story right now, being a man, a husband, a father of four, along with being a neighbor, a citizen of Worcester, and a city pastor is a constant juggle as my marriage, parenting, neighboring, ministry, and work all overlap within the confines of my life. Cracks and crevices continue to get revealed. And I need rest and grace to fill in the cracks each day as I attempt to surrender to my good limitations. I need the Lord to go before me to find me rest, otherwise I'll just keep working ...

This July through September, I am answering the call from God's steadfast, mysterious, and yet personal voice inviting me to enter into His rest during this time away from the weekly days of service and worship among Emmaus City Church. Jesus is inviting me to trust Him and be present with Him during sabbatical in a way I have not experienced yet

I Need the Scent of Eternity in Order Not to be Enslaved to Chronology


One book that I plan to read on my sabbatical is Mark Buchanan's God Walk: Moving at the Speed of Your Soul. Though I have only read one book by Buchanan thus far, he has been one of the most potent discipleship voices that I have come back to again and again these past 7+ years.

Below is an excerpt from the first book I read by him, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (from "Chapter 2 | A Beautiful Mind: Stopping to Think Anew"). The sentences below have helped form my answer to God's invitation to rest, and I am returning again to these words now as I trust God's eternal presence and grace will continue to free me from slavery to chronology:

Embedded in the Greek language, expressed in two distinct words for 'time,' is an intuition about the possibility of sanctified time. Time, they knew, has two faces, two natures. ...
The first ... is chronos familiar to us because it's the root of many of our own words: chronology, chronicle, chronic. It is the time of clock and calendar, time as a gauntlet, time as a forced march. The word derives from one of the gods in the Greek pantheon. Chronos was a nasty minor deity, a glutton and a cannibal who gorged himself on his own children. He was always consuming, never consummated. ....
The second Greek word is kairos. This is time as gift, as opportunity, as season. It is time pregnant with purpose. In kairos time you ask, not 'What time is it?' but 'What is this time for?' Kairos is the servant of holy purpose. ...
This year, this day, this hour, this moment each is ripe for something: Play. Work. Sleep. Love. Worship. Listening. Each moment enfolds transcendence, lays hold of a significance beyond itself. ...
Chronos betrays us, always. It devours the beauty it creates, but sometimes chronos betrays itself: it stirs in us a longing for Something Else – something that the beauty of things in time evokes but cannot satisfy. Either we end up as the man in Ecclesiastes did: driven, driven, driven, racing hard against chronos, desperate to seize beauty but always grasping smoke, ashes, thorns. Seeking purpose and finding none, only emptiness. Or we learn to follow the scent of eternity in our hearts. We begin to orient toward kairos. ...
+ pgs. 36-38


Stepping into Kairos Time During Sabbatical


In taking this sabbatical, I'm trusting that I'm obeying God's invitation to resist chronos and seek more kairos. And I believe Jesus will generously offer me kairos moments that renew me in awe and contentment, in worship and wonder. 

I look forward to welcoming Him into each day so I don't just end up with me trying to rest on my own. And I plan to ask again and again, "Jesus, if You're present with me, can You offer me a new way to see things now to prepare me for what's ahead?"

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan


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