This Rat needed to Stop Racing

by Rob Gibson

Following is the first post in what will be a weekly blog to unpack my sabbatical journey. It will be real, and sometimes that may get messy, but it is treasure that I want to share.  I’m calling it:

Gleanings from a Sabbatical Journey: Chasing God and finding me

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house,

and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light do we see light.  (Ps 36:7-9)

The idea for a sabbatical surfaced years ago, and I dismissed it. I never thought I would take one, as I didn’t plan to write a theological tome or feel “so weak” as to need that kind of rest and recalibration. After all, I worked for over twenty years in the corporate world and in the “real world” you just do it, hit the goal, beat last quarters numbers, conquer or be conquered. I thought this was part of manning up and earning the bragging rights and stuff to show you’ve arrived. Or maybe it was my misplaced sense of macho significance and a misunderstanding of true personal worth. It may too have been driven by my need to be needed and perform well.

Well, with those adversaries fighting in my head, I risked vulnerably asking for a sabbatical. It was not without a tinge of guilt, a sense of wimpyness and some concern that I’m not enough. Yet I was hungry for more from God, to grow and wrestle internal darkness and at least have a break before I crumbled, crashed or crushed others. I was running on fumes, and I don’t think they smelled sweet. A I was performing (more about in a future post) out of professional strength, not serving from a passionate, centered place in my soul. Looking back, I see now I was burnt out and closer to being toast than I realized.

The good news is I am not toast. The good news is God gave me more than I had imagined possible. The good news is I’ve learned sabbatical rest is not for wimps, but for humans. Humans with limits, who are broken, who get weary and worn. I am human and broken. You’re not surprised are you? Who was expecting super-pastor to fix or reform the world? Nobody, but me. That’s just a jacked-up internal story that drives me to race like a rat in an endless maze for cheese that never satisfies. This rat needed to stop racing and drink from the fountain of life (Ps.36:7-9).

The good news is I stopped chasing cheese and caught more of God. I experienced a deeper love and care from him than ever before, but it took going deeper into my own soul. The good news is loving Elders, a great congregation, friends, family and a tremendously supportive wife  gave me space and a tremendous healing gift.

I hope sharing some of my story and the treasure of the gift of this sabbatical will bless you.

Next week: Risking Vulnerability

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