There is incredible power in sabbaticals. Those times and spaces where the doing is lessened and the being is increased always reaps grand rewards.
This week I’ve been on a forced sabbatical in a sense. I’ve been sick and just not up to snuff and so certainly haven’t accomplished most of what I was hoping to get to.
While I’ve been frustrated and sad through it, playing in the back of my mind is the knowledge of the power of fasting and of Sabbaths. And in an odd way I am glad for this lack of ability, for I know it is setting 2013 up with an investment of less, which always leads to more.
Let me explain, (for I am sure that sounds like gobble-gook).
It is really the power of fasting that is in play. That up-side down law of life that when we are weak God is strong, when we pause and rest in him he shows up, and when we invest in constraint the whole world opens up to us.
Under the tangible of fasting lies the intangible of faith and trust.
Fasting brings us to our knees. Literally speaking fasting is hard work. We find out loud and clear the nature of our humanity and the limitations of our spirit when we fast.
In fasting we are brought low and God is exalted.
In fasting we admit our limitation and acknowledge God’s omnipotence.
Fasting harnesses our less and coupled with God’s most, amazing things abound.
It is the same habit as that of taking a Sabbath. In pausing to rest for one day a week we state in word and deed that we are trusting our livelihood to God. That though the work never ends, though there is always something that must be attended to, we will pause for one day and worship, and trust, and rest.
A Sabbath is simply the power of fasting brought into our work week and our responsibilities.
Sabbaticals are extensions of the same.
Twice through my own last dozen years I had two (complete and separate from each other) years in which I did no ministry, was on no boards, and contributed to community in no way whatsoever.
They were very hard years. They felt like vacuums in my existence. In the midst of such things we wonder if we will ever be useful again.
And yet in the midst we find ourselves. We make friends with self. Being takes the upper hand. Our doing is transformed. Rather than a constant bid to fill the holes in our hearts, doing comes from a much cleaner and purer place once we need not do.
I am convinced that unless we are free to ‘not do’ to ‘not be involved’ to ‘not minister’ that we aren’t really free to minister.
It is far too easy growing up in church and community life to think who we are revolves around ministering. What if it doesn’t? What if who you are revolves around a much deeper relationship based on God’s simple masterpiece of you?
Fasting gets us in touch with this. Fasting, be it from food or tv or makeup or jewelry or chocolate or caffeine or ministry or hobbies (all of which I have fasted as led), brings us back to us and God.
It’s a scary place. And a profoundly powerful place.
It’s why though I’m sick and sick of it, I understand that in my weakness there are powerful things afoot. I trust the bigger picture to a much bigger plan and my life is simply one small piece.
Somehow sickness and sabbaticals and Sabbaths and fasting sets all this back in proper order.
It is simply the place from which all life springs.