Wow! Hard to grasp that my four-month sabbatical is half over. In many ways it seems like it has been so much longer than two months. We’ve been to so many places. Experienced many adventures. Met amazing people. Fallen in love with God more. I rediscovered why I married my wife nearly 40 years ago. Walked 551,160 steps. Driven thousands of kilometers and miles. Read several books. Taken thousands of photographs. And a whole lot more!
If there was one theme I had to identify from this first half of this sabbatical, it would be gratitude. Just plain old thankfulness. Deep appreciation. Feeling blessed. Full of gratitude. Every single one of the first 60 days, I’ve experienced an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Sometimes it has been a tear producing, lump-in-the-throat, choked up, no-words-for-it, and emotional kind of gratitude.
I’ve been grateful for so many things it is hard to communicate them all. But here are a few highlights:
Faith Heritage – The first 6 weeks in Europe included visits to sites in Switzerland, Germany and Greece where our Biblical roots, our Protestant and Anabaptist history unfolded. I’m so grateful for deeply committed, courageous, risk-taking followers after God’s heart that have gone before me.
Family Legacy – During our time in Europe, we connected to our family roots in Switzerland and Germany. We discovered adventurous, pioneering, lovers of God who were willing to lay it all on the line to live out their faith and chase their dreams of starting a new life in America.
Vocation and Calling – While in most settings these last two months I’ve not been serving in the role and capacity of a pastor, I’m more grateful than ever for the last 35 years as a pastor. While I have an identity as an individual outside of my chosen vocation, I’m most grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve God and His people and to impact the lives of so many through pastoral ministry. I’m especially grateful for the God-blessed fruitfulness of the past 28 years at Cape Christian.
Leadership Vision – I’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude that God gave me a clear vision for developing young leaders over ten years ago. Realizing that I can leave for 4 months and not have a single worry about what is happening in the church I founded has been amazing. I’m so thankful for the time and energy I intentionally invested in younger leaders.
Generous Givers – And finally I’m thankful for the generosity of folks like the Lilly family who created a foundation and an endowment to fund clergy sabbaticals like mine. I have profound gratitude for our Cape Christian lead team and church board who saw the value of me taking this sabbatical and generously gave me four months off. I so appreciate my wife’s boss who allowed her to take a leave of absence from her work so she could enjoy this sabbatical journey with me. We both feel extremely blessed.
As we enter the second half of our sabbatical, we have so much more to experience. Our four “R” goals are being accomplished. We are more than grateful for each day of this journey.