What does the Hormans’ sabbatical mean for the rest of us? Is it a break for us, too? A chance to take our foot off the gas and shift into neutral as a church? Or even take a break from church entirely? I don’t think so…
We are in a liminal space, an in between place. But that is different than a waiting space, or an eddy in a stream. In fact if we were walking through a Japanese garden, this season would be represented by a bridge over water. This is a transition between one place and another. God is still leading us and He leads us on a journey not simply for the sake of a road trip, but because He wants to take us places. The question for us to ask now is where are we going? Where is He leading us?
For some of us, this prospect is exciting, but for others, it’s unnerving.
It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear …it’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to. - Marilyn Ferguson
Perhaps the question of where God is leading is still a bit lofty or abstract. So we look around to observe the signs, the evidence of what God is doing now - today, this week. And like Linus we figure out what we are going to hold on to.
I suggest we hold on to three things:
First, we hold on to Jesus.
I remember during middle school years I sort of imagined “quiet times” as churchy homework, so it was only natural to give them up for the summer, right? Wrong. Just as we don’t give up friendships or eating or sleeping during summer because we would find ourselves lonely, hungry, tired, and generally out of sorts, so also we don’t give up time and connectedness with Jesus. In fact, summer is a great time to experiment with new spiritual disciplines such as silence, lectio devina, short retreats, and printed or online devotional resources. (This is my personal favourite).
Secondly, we hold on to Scripture.
This is what we are doing as we dig into the Sermon on the Mount found in Mathew 5-7. Consider memorizing parts of it (6 year old Chloe has) or meditating on it. Read a book about it, get together to talk about it or pray through it…
And lastly, hold on to one another.
Get connected. Hang around after church. Play soccer on Sundays. Meet for coffee or a movie or go to the gym. Cook or do chores together. Ask someone to help you paint your kitchen. Initiate with someone you don’t know well. Rekindle a friendship that has languished. Volunteer to help host a BBQ at church. Volunteer for the service crew. Connect.
As we hold on to Jesus, to scripture, and to one another, we no longer feel in-between and at loose ends. Whatever disorientation we may feel doesn’t unsettle us in the same way because we are grounded in the gifts God is giving to us and releasing among us.
Today we don’t know exactly where Jesus is leading us in the season of the Hormans’ sabbatical, but we do know Jesus is leading. And we’re going together. My middle school summers were characterized by a lack of quiet time, but also an abundance of youth group activity where the favorite song was “Grab a friend’s hand, grab the hand next to you. Grab a friend’s hand and come along.” And likely it was the connectedness of youth group that nurtured the faith I failed to nurture on my own.
So hold tight to Jesus, get a grip on scripture, and take a hand. Let’s go somewhere together as Jesus leads.
Susie Colby is Associate Vice President of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada, which means she loves students! Of course her favourite students are Lily, Phoebe, and Caleb Colby. This year she joined their ranks as a student herself in the Masters of Arts in Global Leadership program at Royal Roads University. Biggest challenge: embracing all this crazy tech stuff. She pines for the days when a phone was just a phone and mail came only to her door.