Ron: Preparing for a Sabbatical

     I spent hours talking with Ron after his evening class yesterday.  We talked about his teaching, his publications, his upcoming sabbatical.  First, I was astonished at how hard it is to teach graduate level courses for the first time: one night a week, for three hours, he teaches a text that, until recently, he has never even read before.  He is teaching it to well-educated graduate students.  That is so much harder than teaching a core class: using texts you are already familiar with, to students who are new to the field.  I think MY job is hard! His is exponentially harder.
     Second, I marveled as he catalogued all the new preps he has taught over these past 13 years of teaching.  He taught all new preps at the first school he worked for; then a whole different set of new preps for the second school he worked for.  Then 80% new preps at UD, where he has been for 8 years.  He has taught many graduate and upper level courses, on everything from Greek Patristics (teaching Greek on a graduate level!) to the theology of contemporary art to systematics to Scripture studies.  Each time, he has to find all the scholarship he will rely on and put the whole package together from scratch.
    The amount of material he has covered is as vast as it is rich.  I imagine his brain, and all the neural pathways he has created, prepping these courses, even though he does not repeat many of them.  The wealth of knowledge he has is immense!  Over three thousand hours of classroom time, presenting some of the finest, most exciting material for one interested in Christianity.
     I came away from that conversation in a stupor.  I am in awe of the base of knowledge that he has formed.  From that base, I am curious what God will generate.
     This sabbatical is a year of rest.  He has been in fifth gear for 13 years.  He needs to unwind and have holy leisure.
     In that time of rest, I believe that God will give Ron creativity.  I pray that God will use this vast treasure house of wisdom Ron has acquired, and give Ron an insight or inspiration.  I pray that God will give Ron fruitfulness, that Ron will produce the highest quality writing or project that Ron can make.
     Ron’s basic hermeneutic is so godly.  His approach to the study of God (that is what “theology” means) is admirable: humble yet confident, gentle yet ambitious, compassionate yet holding to the rule of faith.  I have never really seen anything like it.  Somehow, grace, the formation from his educators and pastors, and his personality have come together to concoct a rich and precious result.  I trust that God has a wonderful plan for Ron’s contribution to the Body of Christ and I stand in eager anticipation to watch it unfold.