This is my first week back after being gone from my job at Hope Chapel for 10 weeks on a Sabbatical. During that time, I was able to:
This whole Sabbatical idea was new for me. I am a “doer” and I don’t slow down easily. As I went into the Sabbatical I had many questions. Would I get bored? What would I feel? What would I learn? I had plans for different things but no idea on how they would all play out. How would God speak? Would he even speak? Then there were the more insidious thoughts and questions. How will I make sure I don’t waste this time? What will people think of me taking this Sabbatical? What can I do to prove that I did all that I was supposed to do? Whew . . . I think there is a reason most Sabbaticals are supposed to last at least 2 months. It takes a while simply to process a lot of this stuff.
While there is way too much to address in one blog, let me share with you some of things that God impressed on me while I was away.
There is more, and I am sure that I will be unpacking a lot of what I learned in the months ahead. For now though, I am supremely grateful for this time. I appreciate my church that allowed me this privilege and I am most all thankful that God continues to pursue me from his love for me.
C'mon, it will be fun! The famous last words that are uttered before any new endeavor. We use them all the time.
To our 6 year old: “Let’s ride that roller coaster. It will be fun.”
To our wife: “Let’s take that 10 mile hike on vacation. It will be fun.”
To our friends: “It’s only 95 degrees out. Let’s go golfing. It will be fun.”
Sometimes we are right. And sometimes, we are way off. Most of us have stories of both.
In January of this year, my wife and I decided, along with my son and daughter-in-law, to try our hand at flipping a house. After all, how hard could it be? You buy it cheap. You fix it up. You sell it. Sure it will be work. But let’s do it . . . it will be fun! It has now been 5 months and like most things, we were right – mostly.
The process of stripping a house down to the bare bones, of enduring the dirt, dust, insects, rodents and nasty things you don’t want to touch without rubber gloves and a face mask was illuminating.
Having to design new systems and rooms to take advantage of limited space was an exercise in creative engineering.
There was the drudgery of working at the house week after week, with seemingly little progress. There was the joy of suddenly seeing things come together just like we planned. There was the frustration of the unexpected, the unseen things that complicated almost every little job. There was the satisfaction of seeing a difficult part of the job turn out well. And through all of it, the enjoyment of working to accomplish a task alongside people you love.
We are at the end of the process, and people keep asking if we are going to do it again. Honestly, I don’t know. I want to finish this one well, and then take a look back and evaluate.
Regardless of what we do, I am left thinking how much this process of flipping a house reflects life. There are frustrations and excitement. Joys and disappointments. A sense of accomplishment and sometimes just plain old fatigue. We learn new things and practice old skills. We teach and learn from each other and enjoy doing life together. We accomplish tasks and enjoy moments. What makes it worth while is not simply achieving the end goal, but being fully immersed in the process.
I believe that is what Jesus meant when he said that he is working in us to act according to his good pleasure. He is never finished with us. He is always working. He is building something amazing. And all he asks is for us to cooperate with him and enjoy the process. Sometimes it is fun. Sometimes not. It will always be worth it.
Happy Easter! What a wonderful time to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. I am reminded of what a big deal this is. For those of us that follow Jesus, we do so not because we want to follow a set of religious rules or obligations. We are not trying to earn our way to some type of eternal reward. We do not even believe what we believe because the Bible tells us to. We are Christ followers because of an event in history. Jesus came and lived in 1st century Palestine. He interacted with people, he taught, he lived and most importantly, he predicted his death and resurrection and then pulled it off!
I heard someone say recently that when Jesus died, he had NO followers. They all fled, mourned and went back to their old lives. No one believed that Jesus was the Messiah after he breathed his last on the cross. It was over.
That all changed on Sunday morning. When Jesus came back to life, the people around him were changed completely. Jesus was really who he said he was. By being raised from the dead, he changed everything. This single, monumental event is the hinge on which everything we believe and do rests. Paul said it this way: “13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” He goes on to say that “17 if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15) If Jesus was not resurrected, then our faith is dead and we should turn our energy to other things. BUT . . . if he did rise from the dead (and the evidence overwhelmingly supports this event) then following him is the single more important activity that we are engaged in. So be encouraged this week. We follow a risen Savior!
Weldon Lemke has been leading Hope Chapel since 2009 with a passion to see people come to know God and grow to maturity in Him.