Marking Your Journey

During one of my camping trips last year, I spent an afternoon hiking and praying on one of the nature trails in the State Park where I was camping. As I hiked, I ran across a tree standing alongside the path upon which I was walking. I stopped to look at the tree. It was scarred with years of carvings. Initials, hearts, and dates stared back at me, mute testimony to those who had walked the path before me. The tree stood as a silent witness to who loves who, who was here and when they were here.

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As I looked at that scarred tree, its leaves shimmering in the breeze far above my head, I came to understand that this tree was a signpost for all of those who had come before. Many people who walked this pathway left their mark behind for those who would come later to see and perhaps to follow in their footsteps. (I chose NOT to engrave my initials in the tree’s bark!) I smiled with amusement as I considered how many of those couples, whose undying love is indelibly engraved in this aged tree, are still together these many years later.

As I stood silently alongside the witness tree, the Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit, asking me this question, “What marks are you leaving behind for those who would come after you?” The thought sobered me for a few moments. You see my life (and yours) are given to us as a sacred trust from God. He gives us only so many years to walk this life and to make an impression. The actions, words, people in whom we invest and deeds of this life comprise  the witness marks of our life that others who come behind us will ultimately follow. I paused to consider what kind of witness marks am I leaving for those who will come behind.me.  How does my life testify to the grace and graces of God at work in me?

I guess my invitation to those of you who might read this is to consider the marks of your journey you are leaving behind you. Consider how your influence, your life, your deeds, and your words are marking the trail for those who come behind you. Mark your journey well…

Sabbath Living in a Crazy World

Of late, I have been reading a great deal about Sabbath living…

As I do, I find myself both affirmed and convicted. You see, I have answered a calling to a profession that works on the day traditionally set aside as the Sabbath Day. The ministry is also a calling that makes it easy to ignore God’s calling for His people to set aside time for renewal and the unabashed enjoyment of His presence. Three worship services each week, multiple meetings of all sorts, emergencies (both real and imagined), as well as endless interruptions all make demands on my time. The end result of living this life is that it is far too easy for me to lose contact with the one who called me.

As a pastor, I often fall into the trap of believing that the busy life is a productive life. The “results” of my ministry (which I often believe are the results of MY efforts) depend on filling each and every day, as full as possible,  with the activities of pastoring (many of which I think we have allowed the world to define, rather than scripture) then moving on to the next jam-packed day.

Many times, I find myself desert-dust dry inside and out. Life lived in the crazy world leave me worn out, apathetic and emotionally done.

Sabbath living speaks to my need to draw my energy and my approval from God, who gave me life in the first place. Living life in the practice of Sabbath is the ultimate expression of trust in the provision of God. Sabbath living is the subversive attack on our cultures idolatry of production, busyness, and work-a-holism as the ultimate expressions of worth. Setting aside regular, uninterrupted time with God is the simple way of placing my personal trust in Him for the “results” of my efforts. Sabbath relishes in His presence as the opportunity for renewal refitting. Sabbath expresses my trust that God can use me more when I am whole in Him than He can when I am frazzled, tired, and emotionally done.

I eagerly look forward to a time of sabbatical this fall. I trust that during that unhurried time with family, with rest, with recreation, and with reflection, God will renew me in the core of my being…

I pray the same for you…