This week, I go back to work. Specifically, on Wednesday, my vacation/study break will be over. The vacation part of this time was great! The study time was great as well. Most of all, the time has given me the opportunity for a change in my everyday routines.
For fourteen years, every July, I have had a similar schedule. A few weeks of study and a few weeks of vacation — in one month. I am thankful to the church that I serve for this opportunity. July has turned out to be one of the most valuable and important months of the year for me.
It is in July that I regroup and remember again why I am doing what I do. (Yes, it is important to do this at other times of the year. Nevertheless, it is a focus for me in July.)
During the early years of my ministry here, I probably worried too much about how much I would accomplish during this study time each July. I don’t worry about that anymore. Rather, I focus more on paying attention. During the month, I try to focus more on paying attention to God, Scripture, my family, life, and what is happening around me. What often happens is that I will begin to pay attention to something that is happening in me. I will begin to pay attention to ideas that have been in my head for quite some time. At other times, I might pay attention to a longing or feeling that has been ignored far too long.
I don’t know about you, but I find paying attention week after week to be a real challenge. It is far too easy to get in a routine (rut?), put life on cruise control, and let it all happen. Unfortunately, I can then wake up one day a year older and wonder what happened to the time.
As I go back to work this week, I want to continue to pay attention. I realize that this kind of attentiveness will need to be intentional. Otherwise, I will resort to a lifestyle or rut that is all too familiar.
By the way — does any of this sound familiar to you?