Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunset on Shabbatical

Yesterday I finished the last of the books on Sabbath (Norman Wirzba's Living the Sabbath).  Last evening I met with three church leaders to prepare for my return on September 19. In between, ol' Satan laid snares of fear and failure in my path.

I came into this summer convinced I had failed in my work, and that "this little light of mine" was very little indeed. Wonderful Husband said those feelings were groundless, unreasonable. Unreasonable? Sure, maybe, but reason is no guarantee of reality.  The Pharisees and high priests were reasonable men.

Anyway, I went into all this time really needing rest and really craving that sabbath delight that Wirzba emphasizes is more important than rest. Good thing: I can't say I've gotten a lot of rest.

The HS has been guiding me through reading and listening and meditating on all that reading and listening. Through those books I feel a bunch of stuff coming together -- theolog(ies) and practice(s) and trajectory -- along with a growing sense of the simple reality of Jesus and the possibility of becoming like him in this life. This study has been nothing less than a delight -- a joyful experience of the work and truth of the Spirit -- leading to a conviction that sabbath is critical to Christlikeness. It's not like anything I'm doing has changed, really, and I haven't put together that Plan and Rule for living I intended to do, but all that understanding has been slowly knitting together into whole cloth.  You know how sometimes you study and learn something and are just Ready for the test? It's not like that at all. Rather it's like I'm starting to see life from the perspective of my Teacher: the beginnings of the classic paradigm shift. The Holy Spirit as the catalyst for paradigm shifts: now there's a good theological definition for you!

Unfortunately, the Tempter has slithered right along behind Her. Right at Her heels, the Tempter has been luring me into the Slough of Despond: a sense of failure in my work, a lack of language to express what I'm learning, exile and isolation from my church, the sure and secure knowledge that I am not enough for God to really use me as S/He intends. These are the ancient siren voices sweetly cooing bitter and poisonous doubt and shame. They are some mighty powerful voices, I'll tell you, as Peter the Rock surely knew, and they have sent me to my knees more than once this summer.

So yesterday morning I finished the last of the Spirit's books. In the evening I met with the church leaders. In between? Let's just say that Satan's snares covered a whole lot of the path, and I have pretty big feet.

As you have probably guessed by now, the church leaders didn't confirm my fears and failures. I still have a job and am wanted back. The HS has a whole stack of books waiting, including one that is Life.

And as I have guessed and am working hard to believe, there's enough of me for God to work goodness, even miracles. My light may be just enough to help someone else walk her own feet around those ancient lures and snares and right into the Kingdom. 

As the sun of this sabbatical sets, and I prepare to rejoin His work already in progress, may Jesus' name be praised. Whatever else comes from this time, may He use my life and stumbling faith to witness to his beauty, brilliance, and unreasonable trust in me, and in every one of us.

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