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Happy to Be Back

By Michael Roop

It’s good to be back! As I was getting plugged back into the life of Creekside this week, I carried with me an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the incredible generosity that made this sabbatical possible. While I plan to share more during Sunday’s service, here’s a brief overview of my time away.

The two themes of sabbatical were family time and personal reflection. Courtney and I were able to have some good, long-overdue conversations by taking several date nights and getting a weekend away in Kansas City. We got on the same page concerning several critical aspects of the next season in our lives, and we just enjoyed being together!

Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed going to five baseball games with various members of my family, covering three different major league parks and one college-level summer league game. Each experience was such a joy. Beyond that, I was free to spend all sorts of time with the boys, from swimming to playing in the backyard, heading to the beach to playing board games. Our time with extended family in Chicago was much needed, and the weather was incredible!

I continued going to counseling throughout the summer. This, paired with some reflective quiet times and great reading (primarily Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund and The Soul of Shame by Curt Thomspon) have provided a few significant break-throughs. Chief among them is a growing understanding of the role shame plays in my understanding of God’s posture toward me, and in the level of anxiety I carry about my role at Creekside. My counselor also helped me make an incredible connection between the joy I got from taking my older son to a Rays game and the joy my Heavenly Father gets from walking with me.

I spent some time reflecting on the incredible generosity and faithfulness of our God. He helped us retire our decades-old debt, work with three pastoral residents, partner with the Gainesville Fellows program, build relationships with other pastors in town, give away over $50,000 across the first two Generosity Sundays, and hire Steve Lammers, Lark Kelsey, and Eric Olson, just to name a few examples.

The time away, and the distance from daily pastoral life, allowed Courtney and I to spend time together in discussion and prayer about our future at Creekside. We come back from sabbatical as grateful as we’ve ever been for the opportunity to participate as members of this body, and we’re committed to Creekside for the next season of ministry!

I know we’re stepping back into a difficult season with COVID, but as time and safety allows, I would love to connect with Creekside families to hear about your summers, catch up on life, and hear how I can be praying for you.