A Season of Rest

In several posts over the past month or so, I have indicated that I am experiencing a season of grief. More specifically, I have been working through some past traumas in order to integrate them into my life in a more healthy way. This has been a healing process for me. It is painful but it is also liberating.

Over the past eighteen months I had become progressively more immersed in a workaholic lifestyle. My work load over the past ten years has been excessive and over the past months it had become even more so.  In 2007 alone, for example, I spoke almost every Sunday somewhere, every Wednesday evening, conducted some special seminars on weekends, taught a full load for Lipscomb (eight courses), three classes for Harding University Graduate School, taught in England and Russia, sat on the Executive Board of a mission agency, wrote three academic papers (presented two and published one), co-authored one book, laid out plans for a few other books, and worked with a team on another book. 

As a result I experienced significant burnout. This has left me exhausted and emotionally drained. The resultant circumstance has negatively impacted my physical, emotional and spiritual health.

After consultation with my wife, family and close spiritual advisers, 2008 has become and will continue as a season of rest from academic teaching, speaking and public ministry. Blogging and two projects (a multi-author history and a memorial article for Michael Casey) are the only academic/teaching/speaking tasks I will pursue this year.

I have been and will continue to use these months to seek understanding and emotional healing from the past wounds that have contributed to my workaholism and other problems. I need time to grieve past losses and pursue a path of healing with professional and spiritual support. I now devote most of my time to reading, meditation, support groups, counseling and time with my family, especially with my wife.

This is my 50th year upon the earth. It is time for a Jubilee rest. When Israel failed to care for the land that Yahweh had given them by resting it every seven years, he intervened. Exiled in a distant nation, “the land enjoyed its sabbath rests” (2 Chronicles 36:21). I recognize my situation as a divine intervention. It is time for a rest. I need it for my healing, my family and my future ministry.

By God’s grace, this redemptive rest will bring the healing I need for my own transformation into the likeness of his Son. When it would be a blessing to other believers in their faith journey, there may come a time when I will share the story of God’s work in my life as I come to understand it. In the meantime, my family asks for your prayers as well as your trust, support and friendship. I thank you in advance for your concern and care.

In light of my own experience and my current journey, I would recommed the focused appropriation of Jim Martin’s sound advice concerning self-care which appears as guest post on Scott McKnight’s blog. 

God, I’m listening now.  Teach me about your rest that I might rest in you.
Seeking Shalom,

John Mark

11 Responses to “A Season of Rest”

  1.   RICH CONSTANT Says:

    I was always told John Mark that you live your way into better thinking. you don’t think your way into better living.
    You’re messing with the trickiest guy on your street. That be you my friend. By finding out that I was an alcoholic at 30 year old.
    Could I tell you some great stories.
    . of sailing into the sea of self-awareness.
    Can’t say that I’ve got a handle on it yet.
    I don’t know if anybody ever does.
    I started with replacement therapy I drank more Pepsi than anyone ever saw anybody t drink.
    The phosphorus in that I found out later was what was giving me kidney stones.
    And then you get to deal with and I didn’t even know about this one for about in 15 years.
    Coping mechanisms. That one put me on antidepressants .

    I guess I’m a little bit too cynical about all this probably a little bit too cynical about me.
    The more I know the more I don’t know.
    I used to pray to God to be a normal person.
    And that was it 25 years old.
    Maybe I got exactly what I wanted.
    What a joke this life seems to be.
    I wish you well John Mark remember please remember coping mechanisms those are the little goodies to make people compulsive and I’m sure you know what it is to be compulsed. to do something.
    A sneak right up on you and bite you.

    Good luck my brother

  2.   Quiara Says:

    I am so grateful you’re taking this time — for you, for your spirit, for your family. I thank God that you have the opportunity, but also that you have the wisdom to see it and take it for what it is.

    I pray for rest, healing, redemption and freedom, a true season of Jubilee.

  3.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Rich. I appreciate the journey of the alcoholics to sobriety. I myself am a workaholic. I deeply appreciate the 12-steps as a spiritual path–“progress not perfection.” The compulsions will surely bite those who pursue them and they have me. I appreciate those who have journeyed through addictions before me as I learn from their “strength, experience and hope.”

    Q–thanks for the prayers and good wishes, my sister.

  4.   Todd Deaver Says:

    I cannot imagine the losses you’ve endured, or what you must be going through now. It was very gracious of you to take the time to help me with my little project, when you’ve got so much on your plate already. I’m just now getting caught up reading your blog. If I had kept up and known this was a difficult time for you, I wouldn’t have burdened you with my request. Please forgive my ignorance and insensitivity.

    May the Spirit grant you seasons of refreshing. My heart goes out to you, friend.

  5.   RICH CONSTANT Says:

    Ideally John Mark you’re supposed to find balance.
    I was fortunate enough to go through to very good clinics the guy that started Eisenhower was a psychiatrist from the Navy called pursh.
    That was a 30 day trip in rehab through his program and I had to learn an awful lot from a psychological and physiological point of view.
    Alcoholics anonymous Was extremely difficult for me. Coming from my background in all, I wanted to tell everybody about God. Of course nobody wanted to hear it was a God of their own choosing.

    The five points of balance, not meant to be compartmentalized

  6.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    I think the “God of their own understanding” is a wonderful place for people to start. 12-Step programs give people a sense of a higher power since they are powerless. “I can’t, God can, and I’m gonnal’ let him.” It is a beginning point, and I think one has to respect that as part of the program.

    Friendships develop within the program and as they are pursued outside of the meetings, then one can share the story of God in fuller ways. But I am grateful for the beginning that many receive in the 12-step since they have mostly been burned out on “church” or burned by God (in their view, which is understandable), or burned by a church (with their condemnation and judgmentalism). This is a “baby-step” into faith…and it is a good one.

  7.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Todd, it was not a problem. If I thought I could not help, then I would have declined. I have said “No” to many things this year and I will continue to do so. But sometimes I can say “Yes” as along as I have balance in my life and I don’t consume myself with it.

    Thanks for your prayers, my friend.

  8.   RICH CONSTANT Says:

    (with their condemnation and judgmentalism).
    me in a nutshell in 1980.
    man talk about
    pre disposditions.
    It took me years of study to figure out in my own life what salvation by grace through faith ment.
    As my circle of Fellowship grew to the odd number one.
    But we all have to go through what we have to go through.
    I haven’t destroyed my second family yet. Blessings John Mark

  9.   Jim Martin Says:

    John Mark,

    It sounds as if you are in a good place but as you said, “painful.” I always thought that redemptive rest would immediately be, well, restful. Unfortunately, my own experience has been that such rest often has made me aware of the darkness in my life–motives, thoughts, intentions, etc. that are less than holy.

    Yet, the process of regrouping, resting, taking another look at life, etc. has been so important to me. I think you are wise to find a marker in this to add some perspective (“…my 50th year on the earth”)

    I respect you and will pray for you at passage in your journey.

    (Thanks also, John Mark, for the link and for the kind words regarding the post.)

  10.   rogueminister Says:

    This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn in my young life as a Christian. Terry Smith told me with in five minutes of meeting me that I needed to slow down and that I had too much on my plate. He said, and I agree, that my wife is a great person for me to have in my life because she helps me stop for a sec and realize I need to let some things go.

    I am glad you have a great wife and others who are willing to point out to you that a time of rest, reflection, and meditation are so necessary.

    We are coming back to the States in five weeks. Hope to stop by and see you this summer.

    Blessings and Shalom

  11.   Jim Martin Says:

    I just saw the smiley face on my comment. I have no idea how I did that! Hmm. It is not in regard to you being 50. I am 54!


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