I have a lot of things I want to do on sabbatical this summer.  Almost everyday is chock full of activities—places to see, things to do, books to read.  The sabbatical was planned out in detail more than a year ago.  But…as with life…I expect that there will be things I had not anticipated.  I can get mad because I want MY will to be done—or I can embrace the journey with all the interesting twists and turns it brings and say, “THY will be done.” 

This doesn’t come easy for any of us.  It requires humility.  It requires submission.  Most people naturally want to control things.  But one of the most basic elements of our faith is the recognition that God “creates” (Genesis) and “controls” (Revelation) the events of this world—and of our lives.  “Boasting” about our plans is sinful pride when we do not say at the same time, "if the Lord wills" (James 4:13-16).  

So…I have some plans this summer (that I've been dreaming about for years), but I’m looking forward to sharing with you a few God-stories as he makes changes to my plans.  When a flight is delayed, or a meeting is cancelled, or a train-route shuts down (and I can't get to that one place I really wanted to visit), or I hear that a friend has moved—I will pause and say, “THY will be done.”  Not in stoic resignation.  But in anticipation of what he is doing for my good and his glory!  I hope you will do the same this summer.  

For those curious to know what I've been doing, the first weeks of my sabbatical have been spent here in the US getting ready for my time abroad.  I have been studying at the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, working in my home study, biking in NWI and Chicago, and getting some time with my beautiful wife and my handsome boys.  I’m also making final preparations to head to Cambridge—my next blog will come from across the pond. 

Here are a few of the things I’ve been reading:  

1. The Bible.  It is truly the most interesting book in the world.  I like reading from start to finish.  Lately, I've been paying more attention to the beauty found in Scripture--physical descriptions are everywhere in the Word: people, rivers, animals, trees, oceans, cities, etc.  As Bonhoeffer once put it, "We must say Yes to God's world."  And what (I'm asking myself) does the world I will see this summer say about God?

2.  How to Read a Church:  A Guide to Symbols and Images in Churches and Cathedrals by Richard Taylor.  I'm freshening up on my church architecture for this summer.  Old churches contain so much biblical imagery that they have been referred to as "theology set in stone."  This is a fun read for me.  

3.  Mudhouse Sabbath:  An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline by Lauren Winner.  I love reading Lauren Winner--she is one of those hipsters who thinks deeply.  This little book is an encouragement to revisit our Jewish heritage.  Practices like worship, rest, prayer, hospitality, mourning, etc., are rooted in Scripture (and Jewish culture).  While we are not "bound" by the law, our lives can be enriched by observing the "practices" (disciplines) of those who worshipped God before us.  

4.  Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos (English translation).  I'm reading this simply because I've always wanted to.  It's a classic novel about a young priest in a French country village who struggles with the daily problems of his parishioners--while he battles his own personal weaknesses.   

5.  The Stranger by Albert Camus.  Actually just finished it.  I think the novel tells the tragic story of what happens to people when they live without passion.  Insouciance is deadly.  That's my take.  Camus knows how to turn a phrase.  

I'm also working through a PhD dissertation on the history of the relationship between a Western mission agency and the emerging church in East Africa (lots of interesting lessons about the mistakes Western people make when engaged in missions).  Don't worry--as I will be in the "land of Lewis"--there will be some C. S. Lewis fare on the reading docket soon.