This sabbatical experience is one that we’ve been planning for over a year. As we get close to it, we are realizing that sabbath – rest – is not for the faint of heart. There have been 2 great challenges that we’ve faced as we are preparing to leave.
- Resting requires hard work. The preparation required to be able to rest is intense. I work two jobs, one as the pastor of a church and the other as a financial advisor. The first part of this year required that I do all of my regular work, plus all the work necessary to be completed to prepare for my being away over 3 months, and on top of that all the work necessary to plan our sabbatical (including travel arrangements and packing). Sonia has taken on the extra work of buying all the necessary clothes and supplies (since our kids are still growing they need all new clothes for summer, and that is not always easy to find in March and April in Boston). This has been, to put it frankly, overwhelmingly difficult.
- Resting is not easy to step into. We are so used to doing that it is hard to stop. I was beginning to feel both anxious a guilty about rest. I mean, what did I do to deserve a 3 month sabbatical? And how do we just stop doing all that we’ve been doing? What if everything falls apart? Can we really trust God for this?
The Scriptures tell us that rest is designed by God, not only because we need it – and we do – but also because he rests. In the beginning of the Bible, God created form and order in the world and filled that form and order with all the plants and animals, each in their proper location. Then, he created us. After this, God rests.
What I find interesting is that each day of creation is marked with a beginning and an end (“and there was evening and there was morning – the first day”). But the last day, theologically speaking, never ends. There is no evening, there is not morning. The rest of the Bible is God inviting us into the 7th day of rest and then working, through Jesus, to inaugurate the fullness of rest for his people.
So in fact, rest does require work. That only makes is more necessary and valuable. And at the same time, rest is not something we earn. It is the gracious gift of God who both works and rests, himself.
So here we come, sabbatical!