Thursday, July 28, 2011

I’m headed off on a retreat, a break, a sabbatical. Booked a literal cabin in the woods and I’m unplugging from daily life for a few days to sit, listen, watch for a signpost, and course-correct.

I was unsure whether to label it a retreat or sabbatical. After reading Merriam-Webster’s definition, a retreat can be:

  1. An act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable.
  2. The forced withdrawal of troops from an enemy or advanced position.
  3. A place of privacy or safety
  4. A period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, or study

As it turns out, all of these definitions apply (aside from the “group” in #4).

The definition of a sabbatical is: a break or change from a normal routine.

I was thinking the term “sabbatical” would be more religious in meaning, having the root of “Sabbath” or rest. It also applies.

Regardless of what you call it, I’m on a mission to reset and redefine my life. The issue for me comes with having to sit and listen and understand this small piece of the puzzle that I’m allowed to see in God’s plan for me. I’m impatient when someone starts a sentence or I see where a conversation is going, but it’s not coming together fast enough. I jump in, assume the end, finish it for them. My spiritual walk has been the same. God hands me a few pieces of puzzle. I snap them together, assume I see the picture and start throwing more pieces into it and then find out the picture isn’t turning out as I had hoped or that God has moved onto another picture altogether I’m supposed to be helping with.

My good friend and one of my mentors recently threw out a couple metaphors for me to consider:
“It's interesting to me how we humans think.
When we think of plans we think of complete plans.
For instance, we design a complete house with all the details before we start to build it.
God doesn't seem to work that way.
I think He likes to reveal the foundation design (sometimes after the fact) without letting us in on the rest of the plans.
He calls that "faith".
"Hey, I'm going to give you a little taste but not the whole you still trust me?"
I believe all this stuff you're going through will start to sort itself out, but one of the most important questions you can ask is "What's next?"”
And another:
“A relationship with God is often like playing chess against Him.
The early moves of the match are pretty predictable - I ask for forgiveness through Jesus and He gives it.
However, as the match goes on and He takes pieces (of your past life) from you it gets both more interesting and less predictable.
I know I always like to know the end game when I make plans, but God doesn't like to reveal His end game on earth.
Of course He revealed His ultimate end game through Jesus, but there's a lot of interesting stuff in between acceptance and human death.
The intent of this reset is to deal with the direction of my family, ministry, and work (not necessarily in that order). I need to take a more proactive approach to leading my family with one teenager and two more to follow into the teens shortly thereafter. Do I want to continue to pursue writing for my music project, poetry, a book? Should I reconsider where I fit in with my current church family? Where do I want or need to be in 5 to 10 years with my business? Heavy stuff.

Not all of my questions will get answered, but I’m hoping to get some guideposts and clues for the next steps and a fresh perspective when I return. Sitting in God’s first cathedral (the great outdoors), will be the best place to listen.

The great thing is having a wife that understands you enough to know it’s time to take action, step away, and refocus. Without her coaxing and insistence, I would be stewing in un-fulfillment for the next season of life.

Maybe this will be the first of a yearly process of getting my life re-aligned…