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He Restores My Soul

August 7, 2014

Well, it’s been a long time since I posted (I know y’all have been waiting with bated breath). During my two weeks at Waypost, one of the three camps of Crossways Camping Ministries, I was pretty intentional about unplugging from social media, and that included blogging. Exception was made, of course, to stay up to date with my Royals!

Since returning to Minnesota and being reunited with my family, I’ve had a hard time finding the words to put to my experience. I suppose it’s time to try.

I was at Waypost for a variety of reasons: personal renewal, time with my family in God’s good creation, and to be a pastoral presence to the Youth Enrichment Training (YET) program, a two-week, intensive discipleship ministry for senior high youth. Erika and the kids were with me for the first five days. This was a wonderful time, highlighted by splashing around in Mission Lake and watching Greta dive into camp life. But it was also a chaotic time; having a family at camp – especially when its not a family camp – is hard work, especially for Erika. It was fun and meaningful, but exhausting. It was a blessing for them to head out and do other things with family.

This left me, as planned, on my own for the second week. I had ample time to read, which I used mostly to plough through a bunch of N.T. Wright’s more accessible works. There was plenty of downtime to pray and reflect. But most of all, there was time with the Yetters, fourteen amazing youth and their three counselors.

It was a deeply kairotic time, filled with the presence of the Spirit shared in community. We camped out in the woods and found solace in silence. We went caving, which pushed many of us – myself included – beyond our comfort zones. We rode bikes and went on a ten-hour canoe trip. We explored themes of Christian discipleship and asked what it means to follow Jesus as young people in this confusing world. We dug deep into the scriptures, shared the Lord’s Supper, and washed one another’s feet. We commissioned one another for service in our communities and world. We laughed a lot, and we cried a fair amount, too, as Jesus revealed himself to us over and over again.

But perhaps best of all, for me, were the conversations, both as a group and individually, that I had with these Christ-centered children of God, conversations that revolved around issues of doubt and faith, purpose and passion, brokenness and healing. In praying and speaking with these young women and men I was able to see the presence of Jesus in my own doubt, my own questions of purpose, my own brokenness.

And a strange thing happened: I fell in love with being a pastor all over again, discovering deep joy in this strange calling. Honestly, I didn’t know that I had fallen a bit out of love with it, but I think I had. There have been some deep valleys of late and I was struggling in ways I couldn’t have named until the Shepherd showed himself to me in the faces of these youth, wise and faithful beyond their years. In the 23rd Psalm, God promises to come alongside us, no matter where we’re walking, and bring restoration and renewal to our souls. And as God promises, God does.

At Waypost, this happened to me. I am so incredibly grateful to have been able to return home to camp – to the place where Jesus first made himself known to me – and to have it happen all over again. I am thankful to the staff who made this possible. And I’m thankful to the Yetters, who showed me Jesus in so many ways.

So, you know, I guess sabbatical is working. My soul is being restored, my vocation reaffirmed. My Lord is at work in my life and in the life of my family. I am so thankful for the work to which I’ve been called and I think I’m just about ready to hit the ground running alongside the faithful folks at St. Peter’s – I know that Jesus has been showing up a lot in Pawleys Island this summer, too.

For this, Waypost, I say thanks!

And thank you, Jesus, for once again being there when I needed you.

From → Sabbatical 2014

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