A “Sabbatical” has come to mean any absence of length in one’s profession in order to achieve something. The word itself comes from the Greek word sabbatikos, meaning ‘of the sabbath’. I took the month of January off from preaching and writing bulletin articles, my longest break from preaching in ten years—this was my sabbatical. For me, it was a chance to rest and renew my spirit. To be honest, I did not realize how bad I needed the rest until I had it. It was refreshing. But I did not sit back and do nothing. I new I needed something and the something was only available from God.
So, I asked God to renew me and then I spent time working on me. First, I decided to turn off the TV. I skipped television for January. It was easier than I expected. Next, I increased and worked on my prayer life, spending more time in prayer and being more diligent. I also added journalling to my routine. I would set a timer for 10 minutes, put pen to paper and write whatever went through my head until the ten minutes was up. Trenee and I began reading the chronological Bible together. I found sermons on the web to listen to while I walked on a treadmill. I found a workbook to do (A Spiritual Formation Workbook, by James Bryan Smith & Lynda L. Graybeal) and a book to read (Broken and Whole, by Stephen A. Macchia).
Now, a month later, I am painfully aware that I am still not as disciplined as I wish I was. But, I am mindful of a sense of peace that was absent for some time. And, for me, what is most important: I feel renewed. Maybe, you are like me. Have you ever felt burned up and burned out, like a cold heap of damp ash and soot? Have you ever experienced a spiritual dry-spell, where the ground of your heart is dry and cracked? Perhaps you’ve noticed increased bitterness growing in your heart; scowling and angry on the inside at the sight or sound of joy? Romans 12:1-2 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” God can transform me, but I am responsible to present myself as a living sacrifice. I have to offer myself, my time, my energy, my whole life. Your offering may look different from mine—but it will always consist of self, time, and energy—it will always be all of you.