A Sabbath Rest


After His apostles completed a particularly demanding season of ministry, Jesus prescribed the following: “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Since my cancer hiatus in 2005, by God’s grace, I’ve continued to minister at OGC for another eight years now. Toward the end of 2013, after healthy discussion and diligent prayer, the elders agreed that the Lord would have me take a sabbatical in 2014. We discussed this as part of the agenda in our 2014 annual congregational meeting last February. Not everyone could attend that meeting so I chose to make this the subject of my weekly column in the enews some time ago. However I am finding that some still have questions about this so I am posting it as well on my blog. Since we plan to leave, Lord willing, in two weeks time, the review may be helpful whether you’ve heard or not.

We’ve agreed to a six week Sabbath rest from ministry for me and Nancy to which we will tack on two weeks of regular annual vacation. My last Sunday in the pulpit will be April 20, Easter Sunday. Lord willing, I will return to the pulpit again on June 22. For the first six of those eight weeks we plan to retreat to our desolate refuge in Idaho, although we plan about a ten day road trip to get there, visiting some places and friends we haven’t seen for a long time. The elders want me to get all the rest and refreshment I can while out of pocket. For the last two weeks of the time I will participate in an annual pastoral retreat called the Spurgeon Sabbatical hosted by Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Boston. There I will join a number of other pastors from around the country for prayer, worship, instruction, dialogue, and further rest.

We felt led to make this provision for me, not just for rest after especially these past three years of demanding ministry, but also as an investment in the future. I hope, Lord willing, to hang around OGC for a good long time to come. Please pray with us that the Lord will do a work of spiritual inspiration and physical rejuvenation that will pay mega dividends in the future. Frankly, though we decided this well before the loss of our son, the additional demand grief has brought to our lives makes the prospect of such a season of rest even more welcome.