I’ve been doing missions for years. Short-term, part-time, full-time-in-the-field-missions—you name it, I’ve done it. And I’m tired. Not just the long-trip-holding-everyone’s-hand-on-their-journey kind of tired, or even the Mama-has-three-full-time-jobs-and-a-husband-who-wants-her-attention kind of tired. I’m worn, and my soul is weary. Ministry is costly, and I have paid the price.
About a week before attending a recent conference, I was sharing with some of my prayer partners about this and some strange things that were happening with me. Normally I have the equivalent of three full-time jobs: pastor’s wife, homeschooling parent and missionary; but I had noticed the Lord was suddenly removing tasks and time burdens from my plate. Instead of having sixteen things to do for our two congregations and missions-sending organization each week, I found I only had two. What happened, Lord? Whatever it was, I was grateful. But still tired.
Wrung-out as I was, I went to the conference hoping the Lord would fill me in on the next big thing coming down the pike. In the ministry I was doing for my extended family, for the church, in the community and among my neighbors, I didn’t realize how discouraged I had become. He surprised me, as he always does, with just what I needed: hope.
During a time of quiet reflection, he told me he wanted to take me up to the proverbial mountaintop. He said I had forgotten to take care of myself in all I was doing for him. He said it was right for me to focus on my teaching, my family and my health and to rest in him. Then he showed me something remarkable: my life had become a series of fire alarms. I spent most of my time in a posture of response to external disaster stimuli and had no time to enjoy the view. You know the expression, “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”? Obviously whoever said that wasn’t in ministry (chuckling to myself here).
A lovely young lass named Tiffani stood up to share her story and in it, I heard my own. She spoke articulately about a teen raising herself because her parents wouldn’t. She spoke about wild siblings, having no direction and suddenly finding herself surrounded by a group of people who were willing to walk beside her. I remembered my own past: taking care of my disabled parents, my brothers raising several varieties of hell while I tried to go to school and run the home and the people God sent to walk beside me.
Susan W. taught me a work ethic and that despite having a mom with a martyr complex, no whining is allowed. Francis P. showed me we mustn’t grow weary in well doing and all those hours spent in prayer really do reap an eternal reward. Joyce and Craig C. became the parents of my heart, showed me what it means to love unconditionally.
I remembered many more, each a voice repeating the song of the Holy Spirit in my ear, all brought to mind and heart by the story of sweet, precious Tiffani. Then came the greatest gift: I looked at her and the Lord said, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” I didn’t get it at first, but over the next few hours, I had a chance to talk with Tiffani and just love on her. The words she spoke made me realize I’m not in her place anymore. I’m on the other side.
Someone else—a whole generation of “someone elses”—get to do the heavy lifting now and now my job is to teach them. I can rest and pour into others what the Lord has taught me. Can you smell the clutch as I shift gears?
So now what’s my mission? To rest, but not on my laurels. To rest in him, to focus my time and energies on my husband and children and on teaching a new generation of God’s dearly beloved children what it means to live in Christ, on mission with him.
Generations of missionaries and their lives converged in the Spirit of God, and this amazingly loving path is now clearly laid out for me fore and aft. God may have a similar message for you when you are feeling overwhelmed. Have you asked him? Now, excuse me a minute while I do the happy dance.
Author: Lynne Botha