For the past 8 months, Kim and I have been anticipating the day in which we begin our Sabbatical. Thanks to our church, (Milwaukie Covenant Church) and the Lilly Foundation, in two days we will start this Spiritual Pilgrimage. For the next 3 1/2 months we will endeavor to recount the many Spiritual Markers in our life. Those times in which God’s undeniable presence has shown up.
In Joshua Ch#4 we read the story of when the Children of Israel were led through the dry Jordan river. God had stopped up the waters allowing His people to cross into the Promise Land. Joshua instructed a member of each tribe to gather a stone from the dry river bed and build an altar on the Western shore. When asked the purpose, Joshua essentially said, So when your children asked what it’s for, you can tell them that “God Showed Up”.
This story is the theme behind our time of renewal. Kim and I will seek to remember our many “God Experiences”. Our time will be spent in four separate areas. First, we will travel to Israel, Turkey and Greece, joining a “Steps of Jesus, John and Paul tour. We will also visit areas in Italy, France and Switzerland. Second, we will spend time in Washington visiting friends, family and the church where I grew up. This is where our faith was built and we felt the “call” to ministry. Next, we will travel to the mid-west, namely Missouri where we served our first church, (Community Covenant of Kearney, MO). We will also spend time visiting my sister and her family in Indiana. The last section will be centered around the 17 years we have been in Oregon.
In each of these sections we will record those special times when God showed up. Like the time in Washington when my back was healed, or when the Lord brought to mind specific scriptures that helped carry us through difficult times. Once these moments are remembered, I will carve them into a shepherds staff that was given to me from the family of a dear man in our current church following his death. This all reminds me of the story in Deuteronomy when God allowed Moses to see a glimpse of the Promise Land. Here is a section from my Lilly Grant application;
“Moses was given a glimpse of The Promise Land and was laid to rest with
his staff, the implement that marked a life with God. With it’s worn grip,
scratches, dents, and water stains, his staff must have been a constant
Spiritual Marker of God’s presence.”
Attached you will find a picture of my Shepherd’s staff. This Sunday (April 24th) the congregation will see it’s smooth polished surface. When we return to the pulpit in August, it will have scratches, dents, marks, maybe even a water stain or two symbolizing a life impacted with the marks of God’s presence
Again, I must say that I am grateful for the many members and friends of Milwaukie Covenant Church, along with the Lilly Foundation which supplied the Renewal Grant, allowing Kim and I to participate in this Sabbatical time of renewal.