“God’s glory is on tour in the skies…” (Psalm 19:1 MSG).
All year long, I have waited for you, Nate Holdridge. And I have missed you. I know you must be gone from me, that you cannot be with me forever, that you must return to your daily rhythms and routines. Life beckons, I realize that, but I look forward to the time I can refresh and remind you of who you are. The deepest you, a man in Christ, will be recalled afresh while with me. Forest and sky will envelop your vision, helping you see yourself. Thin and crisp mountain air will enable you to breathe in the Spirit of life. The sand in your toes will remind you of your walk with your God. I have waited for this time.
And I enjoy every minute of it. Hearing you laugh with your children and the wife of your youth brings me great pleasure. No interruptions, no projects, no burdens, just you and them enjoying life together. I know you are made for work. I know you enjoy it so. But, now, walk through my forests. Play in my rivers. Swim in my lake. Run on my trails. Breath deeply of the life I have to offer. Enjoy the thunder and hailstorms I give; they are a break from the norm. Languish in the high heat of the days here, allowing your body to relax and your stresses to dissipate. Jolt yourself with the frigidity of my waters, and as adrenaline replaces lethargy, let life return to your soul. Talk to your King. Read of him. Search me, but as you do, search him, his mountain, his glory, and his truth.
I know what I’m doing for you, Nate Holdridge. I've planned a way I bring you step-by-step into Sabbath. I know how to reconnect you to all that truly matters. The church, though appreciative for you, can thrive without you. This is a lesson for you, and also for them. But you, Nate Holdridge, I will slowly bring you into margin and creativity and rest and delight in your God. Your first days here will merely unwind you, but I have a plan. I am bringing you to a moment, always near the end of our time together, when vision and hope and joy for the work God has asked you to do comes, like blood into a sleeping limb, rushing in. Like Peter’s sheet falling from the sky, you will have a refreshed vision fall from God’s heaven into your mind and heart. I will send you home passionate about God's work, but more importantly about God.
But why does this vision rush in at the end of our time together? It is a simple plan of mine. I have brought you so far from your role, your title, your projects, and your mission while we’ve been in one another’s company. I have removed you. I have made you remember how it all began. God loved you. You loved God. And you wanted to serve him. I have given you the space to recall his love. I have enabled you to remember that you are merely a man whom God loves. And now you delight afresh to serve him.
Now that you have left me, I await your return. I anticipate the day you will gather your chicks under your wings and bring them up to the mountain again. I am already planning our time together. I have days of encouragement and adventure, sleep and sweat, in the works for you. I know what I have in store for you. God made me for you to enjoy, and in my appointment book you are penciled in for another of my retreats. Don’t think I will forget you. I will think of you all year long. I will spend my time planning, plotting your next escape to my quiet place. If your Lord wills it, you and I will rejoin together, for He is Creator, I am creation, and you must experience the gift of recreation. Goodbye, my friend. May your year be filled with the sweetest and strongest fruit God has to offer. I will see you again.