"Transforming Lives Through The Love of Christ"

Sabbatical

   I often ask people what are the top spiritual disciplines that they engage in.  The list usually looks something like this, in no particular order:
Prayer
Fasting
Bible Reading
Worship
Service
Journaling
 

Although these are all important and helpful, something that is missing, or what I don’t usually hear, is the practice of silence and solitude.  And with good reason, I think.  Because people don’t like to be alone and they don’t like the sound of silence.  Most people are quite unfamiliar with the sensation of silence and avoid silence and solitude at all costs.  They occupy themselves in a variety of ways:

      • Get in the car and put on the radio
      • Go home and play music
      • Go on Facebook
      • Scroll through twitter
      • Read e-mails
      • Text
      • Watch T.V.
      • Call a friend
      • Read a book

As we search the Scriptures and the life of Jesus we see that He practiced solitude and silence as an important part of his connection with the Father.  Although He was busier than any one of us, preaching, healing people, feeding crowds, raising the dead and training His disciples day in and day out, He found it both desirable and necessary to withdraw from His work and embrace silence and solitude.   He understood that what was most important was that He drew His strength and power from His time alone with God and that His serving would flow out of His being.  The secret behind the public Jesus was His private practice of silence and solitude. We see this clearly in Mark 1:35 – 36, where, although He is quite busy and very much in demand, He withdraws from the expectations and responsibilities associated with being the Messiah.

 

 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
    Research shows that people who practice solitude and silence often experience a decreased level of stress while also enjoying an increased level of creativity.  In other words, silence and solitude is good for you!

 

      Sabbaticals are periods of time off for the purpose of renewal and rejuvenation while pursuing professional and personal renewal, growth and development.  It is a time to withdraw from the daily routine of tasks, expectations and  responsibilities while you intentionally withdraw from those things that occupy most of your time and energy.  University professors, teachers businessmen and businesswomen and ministry leaders are among the increasing number of people who are taking paid leave Sabbaticals.  The world…and the church…is slowly learning the great value of Sabbaticals.
     Beginning this week Susan and I will begin a three month Sabbatical.  We have divided our time into:

 

1/3 – professional development
1/3 – spiritual formation
1/3 – rest and relaxation.

 

     We are purposefully withdrawing and learning the discipline of silence and solitude. No, we are not going to a monastery and we are not taking a vow of silence.  When I say silence and solitude I mean we will be reducing the noise of everyday activity.  For three months we will be disconnecting and giving ourselves time to develop in areas that have long been neglected.  We will pursue God and His call in our lives.  That means we will not be working on work and in order to better hear and see where God is working we will be secluding ourselves from our friends and church family.   We have an itinerary that we will be following which includes retreats and conferences, time with family, books and more books, some travel and a lot of reflection and prayer.
      For the next three months I will be on hiatus from writing the weekly Reflections.  The weekly newsletter will come out without the Reflections.  In addition, the Daily Engage The Word will not be sent out.  We look forward to our time away and also look forward to reconnecting in three months.  Have a great summer and may you find time for your own personal silence and solitude however that will work for you.
Shalom,
Pastor Steven