A Day in the Life of a Writing Leave

For those who’ve been prodding me to talk about what a day in the life of a pastor on writing leave looks like, here’s the skinny! It begins early each morning with the reading of four chapters from God’s word – presently 1 and 2 Kings – and then with prayer to cement the insights of the word into my heart. Then I pray for people: for Lesli (my wife), Matt and Jon (our sons), and then my church family, both corporately and by name. After that, I pray that God’s magnificent kingdom would come increasingly on earth, and that especially through Camelback Bible Church there would be renewal in our world according to the will of God as Jesus Christ becomes stamped on more and more hearts. I can hardly fathom what a full answer would look like, but my spirit soars in its anticipation.

Then comes the grind, the glorious grind, the book writing, the attempt to commit to human words something so filled with the beauty of heaven that no human words can capture it – that is, the nature and the glory of life in Christ. I’m convinced that too few people, even too few Christians, know how far they can go with Christ and through Christ and in Christ and for Christ. That is what I’m pressing to communicate, both the what and the how of life in Christ. And when I inch towards the goal and sense that a few sentences I’ve composed do even minimal justice to this exalted theme, the sense of personal joy and fulfillment is inexpressible.

So far, three of the four projected chapters are finished, with the third completed only yesterday. But the crescendo awaits, in chapter four, where I want to suggest that (at least a bit of) heaven can be enjoyed right now, through the heavenly Christ who comes to dwell within us. What does this look like in practice, and how do we obtain it, and what do we do to insure its presence in our lives, and how does it change the way we do everything . . . in marriage, with families, at church, in the workplace, with the arts, in recreation? These are the questions I’m seeking to answer.

About noon, I break for a meal – a bowl of granola, topped off by my own recipe of raw almonds and cashews, date pieces, banana chips, and flax seed (the last, difficult on the taste buds, is a requirement of Lesli), supplemented by a glass of real orange juice, with lots of pulp, so there’s some friction on the gullet.

Then back to the desk until 6 o’clock in the evening. By then the mind is gibberish and the body restless, crying out for jogging shoes and a sweat shirt. Who am I to deny this worthy request? And, anyway, what awaits me in the natural grandeur outside (or, should I say, in creation outside) is the sheerest of delights.

Dinner – always a cherished moment after a long day, is made even more so by the casseroles crafted lovingly by the one who melts my heart like no other, Lesli, whose concoction of chicken and broccoli was finally exhausted last night, having survived eight servings. Tonight a very special brand of meatloaf.

Evenings are for reading: Dostoevsky’s greatest novel (does any non-biblical author understand the human condition and make valiant stabs at solutions better than this incisive Russian? Shakespeare perhaps, though I’d put him second.) and Twain (who makes me laugh out loud, and hence gives me a chance to hear a human voice [my own!], since sometimes I don’t see a living person for five or more days, until church rolls around on Sundays). Reading is accompanied by music, always music, playing in the background. My favorite musical companions so far in the writing leave have been James Taylor (actually singing right now – ‘I’m a river/I am the mountain and the sea/O boatman, taker and giver/can you deliver me/I would forever run free’ – have you heard it?), Bach (especially the Orchestral Suites), and Lono (a gifted artist specializing in authentic, Old Hawaiian music).

There is more to say about the beauty and wonder of God’s creation in these mountains and the people who enrich my time away. But the night is cool, the pillow is soft and those things will just have to wait until next time.

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