JOURNEYING INTO AND THROUGH MY SABBATICAL – PART 1
ME ON SABBATICAL? I’D NEVER CONSIDERED THE POSSIBILITY! But for this IGNITE July 2018 blog, I get to share Part 1 of my story with you!
In the past 10 years I’ve walked and prayed alongside of a number of friends on various types of sabbaticals! Then on Monday, the 8th of April, these life-interrupting events began to unroll.
A GOD SET-UP!
During the first week of April, I was in Orlando for 3 separate events of The Global Alliance for Church Multiplication (GACX). This venture proved to be the fullest 6 days of ministry engagement of any time in the previous 3 years of international and national travel and ministry commitments.
Each Monday at 7am, six of us connected from GACX leadership “zoom” for a 30 minute video prayer call. It is a wonderful way to begin our weeks unitedly in the throne room of our King. Yet, as we finished, my ever dearer Brother, Nate Vander Stelt, our EVP, quietly asked if I could hang on for a few minutes.
In our quick meeting, he posed this question of the Lord: “Lord God, are You seeing what I am seeing, and that Colin is “running on empty?” As Nate spoke the word “empty” suddenly this wilderness vision of my heart unrolled in my mind as seen below.
“RUNNING ON EMPTY?”
Then Nate prayed: “Father God, would it perhaps be in Your heart that Colin go on a sabbatical?” At the word “sabbatical” into the vision poured this river of clear living water. And in my heart, I’m agreeing with Nate- saying, “OH, YES LORD!!”
Beginning that very afternoon in prayer with my Sweetie, Nancy, and followed over the next 10 days, I prayed with our Personal Intercessory Team (PIT Crew). In addition, with the ministry team partners, there was a continuing witness of the Holy Spirit toward me taking my first ever sabbatical.
GOD GUIDED AND PROVIDED
Though it’s now summer and I’m writing this Ignite July article, I can look back and recall one important thing… PRAYER! In every detail, over those 6 weeks leading up to my flight to London on May 15th, people were praying.
When I got to London, my precious Little Boetie, Rich Millar, picked me up at Heathrow and drove me to a tiny little village called Broad Haven. It’s located on the magnificent largely cliff-facing coast of Wales. Part of God’s provision was the very reasonable rental of a beautiful cottage that a client of Gayle’s (Rich’s bride) owned. And it was just 30 seconds from the beach!
IGNITE July: LET ME ASK YOU THIS QUESTION!
Do you have 1 or 2 close friends who can serve as accountability partners and have the freedom and liberty to speak into your life? In order to continually grow closer to Jesus, this is an essential element in your walk with God. If you do not, pause now and ask our Father to bring you a Paul, Timothy, Barnabus, Ruth, or Naomi. Ask for someone who will speak honestly, boldly, and with the love of Christ into your life!
Shortly before I left, I was praying with Jeff Gowler, the President of Global Media Outreach. And because Jeff has this liberty to speak into my life, he sensed the Lord nudging him to ask me the following question: “Knowing you as I do, Colin, you probably have a schedule coming together in your mind for how you will spend your time with the Lord, right?”
Of course, Jeff was right on the mark! Then, ever so gently, and adding that this could just be him in the flesh, he said; “But I think I’m hearing God say: “NO AGENDA.” Just come apart with Me!”
Wow! I immediately let go of all plans and schedules, and then I felt this weight lift off my shoulders! So, next month, I will write about lessons learned in Part 2 of my sabbatical story.
LET US PRAY NOW:
“Lord God, may we incline our ears and come to You and listen, so that we may live! Lord, as You used Nate and Jeff to speak about course corrections into Colin’s life, what might You be wanting to say to me? Has my spouse been trying to tell/ask me something, and I have just not been listening, Lord?”
God has quite often spoken to me audibly and His voice sounds exactly like my Sweetie’s voice!! 😂😊😂 Yes my Brothers! God calls us to LISTEN to our Brides! And to my Sisters, humble yourselves because very occasionally God may use your husband to speak into your life too!
Yet, on the other hand, God may be nudging you to be that “bold loving-like-Jesus friend” and speak into someone else’s life! Listen! Please Listen! And don’t forget to listen, for His voice!
We arrived in Broad Haven, swam in the very invigorating ocean (55%F), and then Rich drove off, leaving me totally alone. I didn’t know a single soul and was unplugged from all communications. Even the Lord seemed to pull the plug on me for much of those first 14 days! Moreover, I found it very difficult to pray or even read God’s Word and praise the Lord!
Jeff’s ‘no agenda’ word would free me to take two and sometimes three naps a day. Yet, I realized just how absolutely exhausted, burnt out, and running totally on empty I had become. I’ll be very transparent here: There were many moments that were straight up very hard. I’d literally ache for Sunday evenings to switch on my phone. I longed to have wonderful prayer and share times with my Sweetie, our sons, and their brides. Moreover, a huge technology encourager for me was Face-timing with our precious little grandson, Caleb.
God Created Much Beauty in The Coast of Wales
Just being in the midst of such striking beauty was one of God’s lifters of my soul. Thank You Jesus! I took long steep climbing walks north and south on the coastal trails. And by the 3rd week, these grew into exhilarating prayer walks. In them, the Father gave me clear blue or gently cloudy skies 87% of my 41 days. The local Welsh residents would say, this many clear days in a row just does not happen. However, I’d smile in my heart and say: “Thank You, Lord!”
‘Hephzibah’ means My delight is in her!
Our Father gave me a soul-refreshing delight in the Hephzibah Baptist Chapel family. I was welcomed as a part of their 70-80 person congregation each of the 5 Sundays I was in Broad Haven. It’s strange how different circumstances can cause different responses.
For instance, I would be in the midst of wonderful simple worship and thinking: “Oh Lord, I just want this to go on and on, please don’t let this service be over.” But let’s be real! Sometimes we might be thinking, ‘I’ve got a lunch to go to, Pastor it’s time to wrap it up!’ However, the reason that I did not want to leave the sweet fragrance of the fellowship was that I would be in those moments of loneliness again!
And here is the Lord’s sense of humor: The night before I left home, my Sweetie prayed that the Lord would keep me from experiencing loneliness. And Cindy Carr, from our PIT Crew, had also been led to pray that same prayer. I confess my pride in saying: “Me?! Lonely?! No, never!”
Yet, when I was unable to either pray, read God’s Word, or hear His voice in those first two weeks, I got to know loneliness big time! A short word from Sister Ro Taylor: “During a test the teacher is always quiet!” That word was a great encouragement to me. And shortly after, I began to hear the quiet whisper of the Lord’s voice in my heart.
PLEASE SHARE THIS IGNITE July Story!
I will write about lessons learned in Part 2 of my sabbatical story. If God has spoken to your heart as you read this, please ask Him if there are 1 or 2 friends to whom you might share/forward this IGNITE Part 1. I believe it lays the foundation for a Kingdom expanding life challenge I will be making in Part 2!