I am a little over one week into my Sabbatical. For 4 months I will be away from the church I lead as senior pastor, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship congregation HillSong Church, of Chapel Hill, NC. For much of the Sabbatical, I will be in Chapel Hill, just not at HillSong. So far, I have had to go back to the office once to pick up something I accidentally had delivered there instead of my house. And, I have seen two church members, on separate occasions bumping into them at the Chapel Hill Public Library.
I’ll spend much of the Sabbatical at the library. I am here as I type this. On this occasion, I’ll be needing to put some music on (headphones, of course) because someone behind me keeps snorting. I am sorry for the cold that is clearly irritating her, but her snot is not helping me concentrate. However, it is a helpful reminder that life with God happens in normal, everyday places. Sabbath may be a palace in time, but space is shared with people who have colds and with people who have crying babies. Space is shared with my own children who try my patience and, more than anyone else, expose my flaws. Space is shared with my wife.
As I hiked this morning, it became clear that Matthew 10:39, die to self, is one of the themes of this Sabbatical. If I truly am to die to self and live to Christ, one of the arenas in which this happens will be my marriage. Obvious as this may seem, I need to make a spiritual discipline out of putting my wife’s needs ahead of my own. I need to, out of love, swallow my first reaction to any little habit or tic she has that annoys me. When my hackles are being raised, I need to shift my mind and spirit. I need to shift from focus on the annoyance to focus on loving my wife.
All married people annoy each other. If you think that won’t happen when you get married, I promise, it will. We marry people, human beings, and human beings do things that get on our nerves. And each and every one of is a human being who does things to irk those nearest to us. But, I need to zero in on this: to be married to her is a pleasure. She makes my life better and she is enormously patient with me. I need to keep that joy that I find in her ever in front me.
I need to also focus on honoring God by how I love my wife. This is scriptural – Ephesians 5. Matthew 10:39 & Ephesians 5 together produce a pretty clear message. As an act of discipleship, I must be a self-sacrificing husband. I’ve said this type of thing in pre-marriage counseling dozens of times. Now, on Sabbatical time, I need to step back and listen to the sermon instead of preaching it. That’s true of this sermon and of many others.
One last thing for this post. When I sat down to write, I had an entirely different post in mind. I am still going to write that one. However, I am committed to yielding to the flow of Sabbatical. I may have certain plan, but God may have it in mind to alter my plan. If that happens, ok. I sat down to write something. I ended up writing this. I will still write that other piece. I’ll just write it later.