I’m only in the second week of my sabbatical, but I have to say that spending more time with these two beauties has been fantastic. Having this opportunity to be away from work responsibilities has already reignited my heart for my wife and family. And this has led to another revelation which is opening me up to greater grace possibilities. Let me explain.
In her book, Amazing Grace, Kathleen Norris points out that although there is an initial moment of turning one’s life over to Jesus, conversion is an ongoing work of grace in aligning our life to the life of Jesus.
Do you believe you have been converted to Christ, are being converted, or hope to be converted? This is actually a far more important question than it may appear at first glance.
The word “conversion” comes from the Latin word “to turn around.” We turn from darkness to God’s marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). We turn from sin to righteousness (Acts 3:19). We turn from our way to God’s way (Acts 14:15).
This “turning around” is more like that of an aircraft carrier than a speed boat. For some of us (myself included), we take a mighty long time to make the turn. As Norris writes, “Conversion is a process; it is not a goal, not a product we consume” (42).
If the Incarnation teaches us anything, it teaches us that conversion is not one-size-fits-all. We all enter through the same gate (John 10:9), but each of us will be working out what God works in differently. My issues are not the same as yours. Your baggage comes in different shapes and sizes than mine.
What’s important is that we “keep on keeping on” in community, not isolation. We continue the work of grace shaping us and molding us into the men and women God calls us to be. We may be taking a long turn in the process of converting to Christlikeness, but we do not grow weary, and we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
Beware of thinking, “I have arrived,” and thus find yourself complacent in your Christianity. Conversion connotes change, and many of us have a change aversion. We want stability, not fluidity, and yet stability without conversion leads to stagnation, where we are curled up comfortably with that familiar idol called, “This is the way we’ve always done it” (idem.).
The other end of the spectrum is also dangerous, where we crave conversion without stability, which may describe the current state of affairs with regard to spirituality in America today—a mile wide and an inch deep.
So how does this connect with my sabbatical? Sometimes you have to “get out of the flow” in order to see what’s really flowing in your life. And what I’m discovering is that I need more of the flow of the Spirit in His ongoing work of converting—turning me around—toward a simple (but not easy) walk with Jesus in community with others.
I invite you to join me on the journey.