Sabbatical. Sabbath. Or, rather, Shabbat. That once-in-seven fractal rhythm of rest and resurrection that is woven into the very fabric of creation.
The holy seventh day (Lev. 23:3). The holy seventh year (Lev. 25:4). The especially holy seventh seventh-year (Lev. 25:8).
A time to look back and rejoice in the work that has been accomplished. A time to look forward and see what might be approaching ahead. A time to look up and enjoy sweet communion with our Maker.
Peter had stepped back from the daily grind of YWAM Cambridge leadership responsibilities to focus on some in-depth biblical study. Taryn had stepped into the daily grind of mothering two small children and was wondering whether this ‘Sabbatical’ idea applied to both of us–? And we began the delicate dance of trying to work out how to manage our time in a way that would be sustainable and re-energising and worthwhile and fruitful for both of us. What, after all, was this sabbatical year meant to be about?
The rhythms of Sabbath will help rest your body and relax your mind, but rest is not the primary thing. The primary thing is not to stop doing the things you usually have to do, but to stop doing those things so that your soul can return to what is meant to be its natural state: communion with God. The primary purpose of Sabbath is Worship.
And then we were invited to teach on that very subject: Worship & Prayer. Both of us, together, for a full week of YWAM Wrexham’s DTS. Peter has taught each year as part of our DTS here in Cambridge, but this was the first time there had been an invitation to teach on a DTS elsewhere. So we went, with the kids and our friend Hannah, who generously gave of her time to look after Isaac. It was exhilarating to be teaching together, and prayer and worship is a topic that is very dear to our hearts. We felt like God was bringing us back to our roots, our first love, our Psalm 27:4 One Thing.
And then there was another invitation to teach on a DTS – this time for Peter to teach on Evangelism for the first week of the North Africa DTS being held on the southern coast of Spain. ‘I would love to!—but can I bring all the family?’ And they said yes, and paid for our flights, and so it was that we spent two weeks in Torremolinos, on the Costa del Sol! We were so grateful not only for the refreshment of being at a stunning holiday destination, but also for the privilege of being with a DTS on their very first week, praying and worshipping and doing street evangelism with them and letting our zeal rub off on them–and vice-versa! The leaders of the DTS were also a young couple with two small children, a boy and then a girl – what joy to be able to mutually encourage each other. We even got to take the ferry to Tanger, Morocco, on one of our days off, visit the Kasbah, and eat authentic lamb tagine. What a treat.
When we got back from Spain, we had just few days before we headed off again, this time to the Small Teams Gathering in Liverpool! We led worship, prayer-walked, shared vision, and prayed for one another. It was also great to catch up with Nic and Hamish, our friends from Cambridge who recently moved up to a deprived area of Liverpool so as to be salt and light there.
So what was God doing in opening these doors to travel and teach? Well, in being given the topics of prayer, worship and evangelism, we felt as though God was honouring our having run hard after these things for the past three years in Cambridge. It was a joy to be able to share from a place of some experience, and to inspire people with testimonies and glory-stories. In being allowed to come as a family, we felt like God was giving us opportunities to practise being in mission together. One of the questions we have been asking on this Sabbatical is: what structures does one need to set in place to enable not just ‘me’ but ‘me and my house’ to serve the Lord? As we look to the next season, our prayer is that we would serve Him in a way that is faithful, fruitful and sustainable for our whole family.
There’s so much more to tell you, but we’ll save that for the next prayer-letter. Thank you for your support and prayers!
Peter & Taryn, Isaac and Anu