Home > Books on Spiritual Formation, Spirituality > My obligation is to come back restored

My obligation is to come back restored

We returned to the U.S. almost two years ago and we were tired.  It was a tiredness that was unhealthy and dangerous.  For me, I was worn out, burned out and depressed.  My wife was exhausted in carrying out her full-time teaching responsibilities and at the same time, trying to care for her husband.  It has taken most of the last two years for me  to recover from my self-inflicted wounds.  As I said to our small group last night, “When my ability to perform was removed, I began to seek God.”  There have been times of restlessness during this season of silence and reduced activity.

How many times I have heard, “You deserve a break”? Maybe I needed one but I certainly did not deserve one. There are many people who work a lot harder and live in more stressful situations than we do and they are unable to stop or slow down.  so, this break that we have been given is truly a gift.   Buchanan writes about the gift he received when he was given a sabbatical.

It’s pure gift, like being born in peacetime and not war, like being forgiven, or kissed, or told you have beautiful eyes.  I never earned a minute of it. I don’t deserve a scrap of it.

Our first year in the U.S. was our normal home assignment which had certain responsibilities and expectations. Technically, this last year has been designated a study leave and indeed I have been studying.  We could have returned last year but it would have been foolish at that point–we were really not ready to return.  So, this gift of an extra year living here on study leave ( a bit like a sabbatical) has been what we have needed.  On a recent trip, I finally figured it out. Buchanan’s words about his sabbatical, helped me to “get it”.

“But I feel deeply obliged to the people in my church who have allowed me it.  Obliged, not to come back smarter, or thinner, or more eloquent, or more studied up, though all that could help.  the obligation I feel is not to pay them back.”

The obligation I feel, rather, is to come back restored.

Wow!  I want and need to come back restored but I also realize that this restoration happens within community and by God’s power at work in me.  God has provided this time to be restored through the generosity of our churches and supporting partners.  Seeing this now, has made me deeply grateful.  I hope it will free me up to enjoy the remaining months of our study leave.  Here is the question that Buchanan asked himself about his sabbatical and which now stands before me, “If I believe that I’m to go back restored, in what ways am I sick now?  And how have I grown content with that?”  (Buchanan had been discussing the healing of the blind man and the question that Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?”)   This deserves more reflection on my part and hopefully will be seen in future blogs.

  1. May 19, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Dave… thanks for this reflection on rest and burnout. I like Buchanan’s perspective on sabbatical. It is pure grace.

  1. May 19, 2007 at 1:03 pm

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