“It is on my mind.” Usually that is my response when someone asks me why I am writing a particular paper, working on a specific teaching, or shaping the latest blog post. Serving in the Name of Jesus is on my mind today. Years ago, Chuck Swindoll wrote a book entitled Improving Your Serve.
I blame this reflection on Tish Harrison Warren. I have never met her. I only know her through her splendid and gifted writing. Strange how I can blame someone I do not know. She lives in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and I live in Bloomington, Illinois. She is a woman and I am not. She is Anglican and I am not. She is a priest in the Anglican Church and I am not. She is a highly praised writer and I am not. I could get lost in the contrasts, but for now, to the point, I blame her for compelling me to ponder the intimate relationship between spiritual formation and bed making.
I struggle with January. The cold wind and the dark days seem to function as highway bandits and rob my inner world of warmth and light. I hold no secret formula or easy path through the melancholy. I only remind myself that I have been here before.
My wife and I are only a handful of hours back home from Rome. Jet lag is real, but we are up and going. It is week nine of my sabbatical and today I am chewing on Exodus 20:16. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Whenever I think of the old prayer-praise, “God is good. God is great,” I am particularly drawn to a magnificent attribute of God. This specific divine characteristic is the eighth word of my sabbatical
Pure. I carried that word to Kickapoo Creek today. It has become a significant place of refuge during this sabbatical gift. I will circle back to the creek shortly. “Pure” is the seventh word of the seventh week of my sabbatical and it is squarely on my heart. Images of someone or something free of impurities, without dust, dirt, pollutants, contaminates, or sin enter my thoughts.
My sabbatical marches on. It is the sixth week and this week ushers in the sixth word from the Ten Commandments. On my heart is this line, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). I more than realize that most of us do not give this imperative much thought. In full confession, I tend not to give this command much thought in my life either.
God knew exactly what He was doing when He ordained and carried out His plan with regard to my family. Though I struggle, even today, with understanding the why, God perfectly placed me in the family that ultimately made it possible for me to seek God, discover His gift in Christ, love God, worship God, witness to God and want to serve Him forever.
It is week 4 of my sabbatical and I am spending the day at Starved Rock State Park. It is a bit windy and chilly, but it is a good day for retreating. I bundle up, make my way north on I-39, and arrive for breakfast at the Lodge.