Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Living Under the Umbrella

So, here we are on the eve of a new year and I on the eve of a new life. As I approach the surgery I am more excited than worried. I am excited about what will be different after the tumour is out. Will I feel different? (Acoustic Neuromas can have all kinds of physical, emotional and sensational effects on their host). Maybe I will be more serious and driven. Maybe I’ll be less tired. Maybe I’ll be more adventurous. Maybe I’ll be able to taste food on the left side of my mouth again. Maybe I’ll be more funny and can take up a career as a comedian. Maybe the ringing in my left ear will stop (or maybe it will get louder!). Maybe I’ll be able to ride my motorcycle backward. That would be cool!  

There is very little I can control in this surgery. I can be well rested on my way in. I can be patient with myself afterward. I can enjoy my health and family as much as possible before the surgery. I cannot tell you what a joy it has been to spend so much time with them during the past few months. I have gone out for meals and day trips with each of my children (multiple times) and taken partial and whole family trips here and there. 

These vast hours of special family time are possible because of the amazing generosity and compassion of my employer. When I told them about the tumour in September, the leadership at the Victoria Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (for whom I work!) told me that they would like me to go onto a “sick-leave umbrella” which means I am on sick-leave but can report as many hours as I work each week. General Secretary Pr Darren Croft said they want me to be as well rested and emotionally healthy before the surgery as possible. Human Resources Director Karina Gurban said she had chased my sick leave backward through all previous church employers (something only possible for serious illness) and had found 5.5 Months of sick-leave which are available to me during this time. So, since October I have been living under the umbrella! Some weeks I work a full week, sometimes I work and hour or two a week. The only stipulation Pr Darren set was, “Please don’t do anything which stresses you - just do the parts of ministry which you enjoy and which bless you.” 

Every Sabbath I minister away from my family is stressful. So, I have spent every Sabbath possible with them. We have gone to church together. We have wagged church and gone bush together. We have had opening Sabbath, Sabbath lunch and closing Sabbath together. And I have sat, in a pew during numerous sermons, next to them. This may all sound mundane to most people but every church pastor with a young family will be aching with jealousy. I’m starting to think we do Sabbath wrong as Pastors. I don’t know how to fix it but I know we are not discipling our children in the joy and the rest of the Sabbath when we work on Sabbath while having family fun and rest on another day or, God forbid, work 7 days a week.

Yesterday, after running JETS Sabbath School at Ringwood church (with my wife and for all three of our children plus a bunch more awesome kids) we had Sabbath lunch with Grandma and Grandpa. Then Cyrus, Rachael and I went to Healesville Sanctuary together. It’s really wonderful to spend such moments together. This preparation time is really challenging me to rethink family, Sabbath, pastoring, ministry and life in general. I want to continue living a life of disciple-making when I emerge from under the umbrella.