Monday, December 3, 2012

Sabbath, Family, and Transformation

I had occasion this past weekend to spend some time resting. It's not something that I do often (that's mentioned as a weakness, not as a strength), but something that God COMMANDED us to do. Our constantly connected lives make this an incredible struggle, but I want to share one techno minister guy's experience with it THIS TIME. It's not very brief, so I'll understand if it's too long a journey for you to take. :)

My schedule is not unlike yours in that I have calls that I always need to make, emails that I always need to send or reply to, and work that always needs to be done. Like you, I could (and too often, do) spend an unhealthy measure of my time focusing on my work, my todo lists, and myself rather than taking the much needed time to rest. Like you, I could (and too often, do) make excuses about the urgency of my work and the fact that lives are at stake (it's easy to do this when you're a minister). And like you, I could (and too often, do) stay connected thanks to the small computer that's always on my belt 24/7 - my texting, emailing, photo snapping, video taking, phone calling, googling iPhone.

But this weekend, God provided a different experience for me…I was LESS connected. Part of that had to do with the fact that we were in the Smoky Mountains and a lot of times cell service is not so great up there. Part of it was that I work with an incredible team of staff and volunteers who helped me by taking care of business and holding necessary (but not urgent) conversations until today. And part of it was a recent experience I had during the Great I Am worship encounter. For me - it was exactly that - an encounter with God…and it was very humbling for me.

No matter how it transpired, I am so grateful. By not being connected I was able to enjoy so many beautiful things:
  • I was able to enjoy God's creation. Several times I found myself thanking Him for the beauty of His creation canvas and for how it testifies to His "eternal power and divine nature." (Romans 1:20)  I was thankful for mountains, valleys, clouds, sunshine, dew, streams, rivers, rocks, fish, trees, leaves, grass, shadows, deer, ducks, pigeons, bears, clouds, color, laughter, tears and so much more than I can even bring to my mind now…my cup was overflowing.
  • I was able to enjoy time. You know - they've stopped making it…so all you have to use is what's already been allotted. For us, very few things had to happen at a particular time so we were able to just enjoy TIME. Outside the pressure of the Krispy Kreme hot donut schedule and when we could feed the bears at the live exhibit - we were able to pretty much interact with the world on our time table. That's not a luxury that most of us get to enjoy very often. I was thankful for not having to set an alarm clock and the ability to allow my son to serve me in that capacity.
  • I was thankful for my family. My encounter with God a few weeks ago is revealing many things in my life and character that I am still processing. But one of the most critical is a tenderness for my family. This weekend, we truly enjoyed each other. Unfortunately, I'm usually better at giving others more attention than I give my own wife and child (again, mentioned as a weakness, not as a strength) even when we are "on vacation." And for the sake of being transparent, I just have to tell you that God is not pleased with me about it. There are things to be proud of in my life, but the stewardship of my responsibilities as Kelley's husband and Carver's father is not one of them. God has been dealing with me to reveal the selfishness in my spirit about this in a way that is as merciful as Christ hanging on the cross and as cutting as His words to the Pharisees. His compassion and correction are revealing to me the precious gifts of God that each of them (Kelley and Carver) is in my life, and I was thankful to be able to just enjoy them for the weekend. And for the sake of being candid I must confess, I have felt more like a godly father and husband over the past couple of weeks than I have felt in nearly 15 years of marriage and almost 6 as a dad.
  • I was thankful for transformation. Although deep down I "believe" that transformation can be miraculous and instantaneous (even if habits and routines take some time to be retooled and re-tasked), it can be difficult to "know" that Truth without having experienced it. God allowed me to experience that "salvation-like" experience a few weeks ago in a way that made Him as true and relevant in my life as He has ever been…or maybe more than I have ever allowed Him to be. I found myself thankful this weekend that He had not only allowed me to receive this life-changing gift, but that He had given me the time to be appreciative of it, to reflect on it, and to cherish it as a work of His Holy Spirit. 

So - if you've hung on this long, rejoice with me. Be thankful for me and with me. I have no talking points or suggestions for you, just one guy's testimony of how God is still working in his life…the testimony of a way-too-connected guy looking for, praying for and seeking God's balance in his life, family, and ministry. I pray that it ministers to you.