A little later today, I’ll board the flight that will take me to Dublin, Ireland, for the beginning of the “cycling pilgrimage” that rests at the heart of my current sabbatical. As I prepare for my departure, I find myself pondering a brief story told by pastor and author Mark Buchanan:
A man in my church became sick and couldn’t shake it. It went on for months. He was usually a man who went full tilt at everything, night and day. One day he said to me, “I know God is trying to get my attention. I just haven’t figured out yet what he wants my attention for. He must want me to do something.” I thought a moment. “Maybe,” I said, “that’s the problem: you think he wants your attention in order for you to do something. Maybe he just wants your attention.” Maybe that’s what God requires most from us: our attention. Indeed, this is the essence of a Sabbath heart: paying attention. It is being fully present, wholly awake, in each moment.Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God
There are so many things that I’d like to do an experience in the coming weeks. But a part of me recognizes that my plans and my desires could easily get in the way of the more valuable things that the Lord has in mind. And so, perhaps more than anything else, my prayer is that I’ll be able to pay attention—to have the kind of heart that can be fully present to God and that can listen to, learn from, and respond to the whisperings of His Spirit.
To all the members of my family and my church family who are giving me this opportunity for renewal: Thank you! And to all those who will be praying for me in the days ahead: May you, too, be attentive to the Voice that calls us “further up and further in.” Amen.