What’s Next? A Letter to West Franklin

West Franklin Family,

It is so good to type these words again. Believe it or not, one of the most difficult things about sabbatical is not communicating with you. I longed to write. I so wanted to call and get updates. I wanted to text and ask how you were doing. But I intentionally went off the grid. It was hard. But it was best. It’s what needed to happen for it to be successful.

And successful it was. (You can hear an extended update about the sabbatical here.)

I’m not sure what you are expecting from me moving forward. I’m not sure if you are expecting me to have a specific word from the Lord. I went into this thing not knowing what to expect and, to be honest, trying not to have super high expectations. I’ve never done this before (return from a 5-week sabbatical) and I assume many (most) of you haven’t attended a church where this has happened before. So I don’t know what you are expecting.

Perhaps your mind goes to Moses coming down the mountain with two tablets of stone in each arm.

Or maybe Elijah standing before the prophets of Baal.

Or Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego coming out of the fiery furnace.

Or Joshua getting ready to address Israel as he assumes leadership duties post-Moses.

Or John the Baptist appearing out of the wilderness.

Or maybe even Peter on the day of Pentecost.

I don’t know what you imagine.

Each of these are amazing, to be sure.

But you might want to sit down before you continue reading. What I am about to tell you may come as a shock. Depending on your expectations, what you are about to read could cause a bit of a jolt to your system.

I don’t have a word from the Lord for you. For us. For West Franklin

Yep. You read that right. I don’t have two stone tablets or a burnt altar or hinged clothes or honey-dipped locust breath. I don’t have a vision from the Lord for you. I have a beard. Some jeans. A journal. My Bible. I have new hair gel I am trying. I smell like Old Spice deodorant. I hope.

Here’s what I know. I know God is at work. I know God is speaking. I know Jesus isn’t in His tomb. I know God didn’t create creation and then take His hands off after Day 6. I know the Spirit is not limited. I know, as Eugene Peterson has helped me understand, “Christ plays in ten thousand places.” This is our Father’s world. His playground. His sanctuary. I know that Immanuel means “God with us.”

If you are looking for a “what next?” here you go: Pay attention. God is present. God is speaking. God is acting. Listen. Look. Behold. Be still. He really is God and He really is near. I don’t believe I need to go and get a vision for you. I believe God is working now. I believe God is working among you and in you and around you. My job? Your job? Our job? Pay attention.

Though I didn’t actually open my Bible to this passage until the final day of sabbatical, the realities of Psalm 19 inundated me throughout the 34 days I was off the grid:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world…

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Our God is a talking God. He spoke everything into existence and He has been talking ever since. He even thought it best to send Himself to earth as the Word.

I may not have A word from the Lord post-sabbatical. But we have THE WORD. Our God is near. Our God is talking. Let’s – together – listen to what He’s saying.

So Glad to Be Back With You. I can’t wait to see you tomorrow with my Bible open to 1 John 3.

Eager to Hear what He’s Saying,

Pastor Matt