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Push On ‘Til the Day

June 4, 2014

One of my first goals for this time of sabbatical is to leave the cares of congregational ministry and daily life behind. It’s hard to be away if your mind is in the same place.

Monday arrived with some odds and ends to which we needed to tend: a car to sell, a daughter to register for fall soccer – you know, the usual. Once these boxes were checked off and the trusty Pilot was loaded up, we left the homestead. It was about noon. We made it to Columbia, at which point it was time for an obligatory Target run. Turns out we needed – needed – a dual-screen DVD player with mountable screens. And a couple of new movies; welcome aboard Sofia the First and the Cat in the Hat! With the drive ahead of us, this seemed like a good idea (the goodness of this idea was more than confirmed through actual experience). A few hours later, we stopped for dinner near Ashville, NC and then spent some time throwing rocks into the French Broad River.

We were lingering. We knew what was ahead of us. We had put five hours of driving time behind us but that still left eleven hours until Bartonville, IL, home of Erika’s younger brother and his family. Our plan was to drive straight through the night and arrive in the morning. Erika confessed to me later that she was sure we would have to stop and get a hotel room. If I had known this, I probably would have suggested we stop, since our plan was fundamentally crazy. But since I thought that she thought that we would make through the night, I was convinced that we would.

And made it we did! The kids, simply put, were rock stars. They slept with little interruption from 9:00 at night until 5:00 in the morning. Erika and I took turns: I drove from 8:00 until midnight, Erika picked it up until 3:30, and I drove the rest of the way until we stopped for breakfast in Bloomington, IL (we didn’t want to wake up our hosts by getting there too early!).

There is something tremendously peaceful about driving in the dark on interstates that you have to yourself. During my two night shifts, I was typically the only person awake in the car. Nothing to do but sit, think, pray, and let go. The challenges of congregational life were left further behind with each mile, leaving only the warm feeling of a Christ-centered community of love that would be just fine without me.

Yes, I still think about life at St. Peter’s. I am still transitioning. I wonder what’s happened there today. But it’s there, and not here. Here is a day at the Children’s Discovery Center in Normal. Here is my brother-in-law grilling steaks. Here is where my head is, and my heart, too.

You see, the sun was rising when we pulled into town on Tuesday morning. A new dawn. A new day. And with it, the beginning of a new experience.

Sometimes you just have to drive through the night, alone with your thoughts, to leave it all behind. We made it. We’re here. For a few days, until we’re in the next here. Which is good, because it means that in many ways I’m not there anymore. And while I’m thankful that we’ll get back to there, right now it’s good to be here, at the dawn of God’s good and new experience for us. I thank God for caring for us through the dark drive and bringing us to a new dawn. When I think about it, that’s the business God is in, isn’t it?

“Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.” Isaiah 58:8.

From → Sabbatical 2014

  1. Marla Fabian permalink

    I’m glad you were deep in thought while sriving so you stayed awake! And kudos to Erika for the tough driving shift. Release St. Peter’s from your constant thought but know you all are in ours. Godspeed.

  2. God bless you and keep you safe on all your comings and goings this summer. Enjoy it my friend. G

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