Well it has begun. After all the planning and anticipation, this is already day two of my sabbatical. (And in a hour or so Doris and I will be off to Dutch Wonderland with Lukas and Marci, two of our grandchildren.)
Sunday was a great day for me and for the church. When Carol Bowman (our prayer coordinator) showed up for early service, I figured something was up. If you were there, you know that at the end of both services, she invited people to come up and gather around Doris and me and pray for us as we were being "sent off" on this time of spiritual refreshment. It was a very cool moment for me and much encouragement to see so many of you come up and gather around us and offer your prayerful support. Many thanks!
At second service, the band concluded the service with a song that has had a very special place in my life during the last months or so. I have it listed in my sabbatical playlist on YouTube, along with some other music that speaks to me right now. The song is entitled "Open Up the Sky" and has been made popular by a group called Deluge. Here is a link of them doing the song:
And in case you want to see the words, use this link:
I wrote in an earlier post entitled "Last Fall" about a very significant down time in my life. In that post I mentioned the book The Pressure's Off by Larry Crabb. The thesis of that book is that too many Christians are following God for the blessings that they think God will give them, instead of following God simply for the blessing of his presence in their life. That really spoke to me last fall--actually it changed my life in a number of ways (in conjunction with a conference at Willow Creek). God used those two things--a book and a conference--to encourage me and to lead me to reorient my outlook, which led to a new hope.
Well anyway, this song "Open Up the Sky" captures the thesis of the book and articulates what is now, and has been for a while, the cry of my heart. It is my desire during the sabbatical that I and the church experience the presence of God in deeper ways, new ways and ways that change us. What else is there that really matters?
Thanks to Dean Sensenig (our Director of Music and Worship) for being obedient to God and switching the closing song from whatever he had planned to "Open Up the Sky" as we closed second service on Sunday. (I understand that to do so required overcoming some challenges and it would have been easy to give up.) It was the right thing to do and the right song to launch my sabbatical.