This is part of a series concerning my Fairview Experience. Part One is here, Part Two is Here. Even though it's a month later, I want to revisit my camping experience by getting spiritual. What did my camping excursion mean to me?
Currently, at Echo Church, we're studying the book of Exodus. Since October, we've been taking a week-by-week look at the Ten Commandments. The Sunday before my camping experience, I taught on the commandment to observe the Sabbath.
I've taught on Sabbath numerous times before. They say that if you ever want to know the sins of your preacher, look at what he preaches about the most. I guess I'm guilty of not resting. I enjoy my work, holding down a couple of gigs which keep me fairly busy. The Monday after this sermon, a person from church asked when I was going to take my Sabbath. "I don't really have the time right now," I responded. "Maybe later this year."
And then, I had to camp out to get my kid into school.
Once I set up my tent on Friday, I pulled out my lawn chair and started grading papers. I finished that quickly and thus ended my to-do list. In anticipation of having to miss church on Sunday, I had farmed out all of those responsibilities, so I was left with nothing I had to do. I brought along quite a few books, but I only completed one and read a few chapters in another. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't have much time to read.
We had a daily schedule where I would take the mornings, Kelly would come and give me a break in the late morning/early afternoon so I could shower and get a breather, and then I'd return for the late afternoon and spend the night. The only break was on Saturday, when it was our turn to run the local soup kitchen. I had to oversee the process (Kelly always does a phenomenal job making sure everything is ready to go), so I did duck out to see it through. But that was it.
All I had to do for four days was wait.
I think this is the main reason that I harbored so much anger about this experience at the beginning: I view my life in portions of accomplishment. There are things I have to do and things I want to do, but regardless the category, I enjoy doing. And I tend to define myself by lists, by things I've accomplished. And even though camping out itself was some kind of an accomplishment, it prevented me from being productive for multiple days.
In my sermon on Sabbath, I mentioned that the holy name of God in Hebrew (often pronounced Yahweh) is most likely connected with the verb "hiyah" (think martial arts) which means "to be." This helps explain God's answer to Moses' question at the burning bush. "I Am Who I Am" is akin to "I Be what I Be." God is. He exists. And he doesn't have to wear his hat as Creator/Sustainer in order to feel important. God can just exist, and not do. Why can't I? Why can't I just be?
That's the point of Sabbath: to allow us to just "be" and dwell on the One who did more than we could ever imagine. And not doing this is irresponsible and downright unbiblical.
And my neglect of this is the sin with which I struggle. I try to impress God and others with what I've accomplished, but that's not important. Jesus died for me and it is HIS accomplishment which defines me.
My camping excursion was a forced Sabbath, and a valuable lesson: I should probably start implementing this on my own terms so God doesn't need to correct me yet again.