Life is nothing if not interesting !
Them as reads our prayer letters or as reads this blog will be aware that we plan to take a sabbatical soon, and will also be aware of a certain dysfunction that has recently overtaken us. In discussing this with folks on the left and on the right (not politically, silly...) it has become clear that one must identify and distinguish various factors in dealing with such a dysfunction.
1) the dysfunction itself. In my case it was an inability to cope with certain topics of conversation - for example, one man said to another "we have a good team" and I went and hid in the toilet. Let us call this the breaking of the camel's back.
2) the stimulus that provoked the disproportionate response of hiding in the toilet. Here it was certain topics of conversation, but also certain tasks which became impossible to undertake. We may call this the agent déclencheur, or for short, the straw.
3) why the camel was suffering from lumbago already.
In the camel analogy the implication is that the camel is carrying a load which is too great for the beast to support. I am sure that this is true in our case, though I am still reluctant to admit it, even to myself.
Another suggestion also needs to be considered - that a camel may be bearing a load that is within, or at the limit of his capacity, but that he has borne this load for too long and with no respite. On placing "the straw" the camel's back breaks.
Discussion with the aforementioned folks revealed that we have not been disciplined with regard to taking enough holidays and, I hesitate to confess this so openly, we have sometimes worked even while on holiday, preaching or speaking about the work here.
Not only this but who would have thought that there was wisdom in the old "fours years on the field, one year at home" pattern of missionary life ?
Who, indeed, except generations of missionaries, missionary agencies and churches whose opinion we did not heed.
So after eight years in France we're going on furlough. We'll stay in France but we'll be doing something completely different.
We are looking for some study to do - I found something VERY APPEALING in the area of missiology and church planting... Pat has found something VERY APPEALING in the area of Sydney (by correspondence).
We are planning a survey of the Bordeaux Christian Scene.
We will reflect and consult and pray concerning our future - again something VERY APPEALING has already come to light.
Thank you for your prayers for a good recuperation.