The BEMA Podcast

Love God. Love others. Become people of the Text.

Closing Time

I have ended my 100-Day Step-Away and it’s time to wrap up this sabbatical journal. I’m sure that we’ll be using this forum in different ways in the future, but it’s time for me to return to writing my normal newsletters and return to some of our regularly scheduled programming.

Writing this recap is a little tricky for a few reasons. First, part of our organizational requirements is to write a more in-depth sabbatical report where we look at our objectives and record some of our great personal takeaways. After crafting this report, it’s obvious that it’s not the kind of thing you would post here. The content is more intimately designed for those who work alongside of me and not for public consumption.

Second, I think the unconscious expectation is that you are supposed to come away from sabbatical with all of these profound and earth-shattering statements. I have a friend who is also on sabbatical and he encouraged me just a few weeks ago with this observation: “I feel like I’m supposed to have something profound before I can come out of sabbatical. But this expectation doesn’t come from God and sabbatical is not transactional like that.” I liked that. But it makes writing a sabbatical recap a little difficult.

However, there are some things I think I could take away from this sabbatical.

RENEWAL: We accomplished our goals of renewal. Spiritual renewal through the pursuit of the 18th Annotation, an Ignatian spiritual practice, with the guidance of a spiritual director (be prepared for more material about what I’ve experienced and learned here). Personal renewal through some life-giving projects I was able to engage (like cooking and music). Finally, family renewal during this summer was one of our greatest victories of sabbatical.

MARGIN: You may remember through this sabbatical journal my repeated lament that I wasn’t finding “margin.” This was one of the impetuses for pursuing the 100-Day Step-Away. And I’m happy to report that we found the margin and I am energized and ready to return to work.


A lot of my takeaway is very personal in nature.

WORRY & ANXIETY: There is no surprise (for me at least) that I experienced deep reflection over the place of worry and anxiety in my life. At one point in my journal I wrote, “Worry and Anxiety are the names of my demons.” Again, this isn’t a revelation; however, sabbatical provided me with the opportunity to really sit and reflect and pray deeply about this. To look it full in the face and come to grips with how if threatens my spiritual walk.

SURRENDER: Part of the antidote to that worry and anxiety is a constant, daily pursuit of surrender. I see surrender as something I do early in the morning as a daily practice. I see surrender as something I do situationally, when things threaten to still my resolve, my focus, or my worship. I see surrender as something that I need to have after those moments have passed — particularly when I have failed. To not live in guilt or shame, but to let forgiveness, grace, and mercy rule the day. To quote my same sabbatical friend again, “Don’t move faster than grace; let grace lead the way.”

OBSERVE MORE, JUDGE LESS: One of the things I have talked about a lot this year is curiosity. It complements something that I’ve encountered a lot in my counseling and through writers like Brené Brown. The ability to observe and experience life in a non-judgmental way is something that I’ve been encouraged to do. What does that mean? It means that personalities like mine are quick to judge and categorize decisions and experiences (and sometimes emotions) as good or bad, right or wrong, constructive or destructive. But a lot of good can come out of my life if I simply hold something and observe it — refusing to judge it in the moment. It gives me the space to observe it and reflect on it. To learn more and condemn myself (or others) less with snap judgments. I found more and more of the sacred and the holy in these moments by stepping back and pausing.


These are some of my reflections that are (I hope) more suited for public consumption. I want to take one final moment to say thank you for all of you who intentionally and faithfully prayed for me during these last 100 days. I am blessed to have people in my life who would care enough about me and what God is doing through me to lift me up in that way. Thank you.