At a recent retreat with other World Impact missionaries we talked about "Catching the Wave" of what God is doing in ministry: how to do it, what to do when you "wipe out," etc. I shared with some of the missionaries that I felt like I'd already wiped out, gotten churned up in the wave, ate dirt, and am now laying on the beach, a frazzled mess, and not quite sure what to do next. The crisis is over, but I'm feeling dazed and confused and unmotivated to jump back in. Perhaps you can relate.
I thought if I stepped back and took a little time to recover my energy and equilibrium would return, but instead I've gotten a little more indifferent and definitely more confused. However, God has started to speak to me through my clouded state...as He often does in His grace.
I've told myself I'm just lazy when I don't apply myself in the Christian disciplines, or said that I just don't care about things anymore...but I think I've been naming things inappropriately, which hasn't allowed me to deal with the root issues. It hasn't been laziness keeping me from pursuing God, so much as it has been me pulling back because I've been hurt and confused and maybe to some extent I've been blaming God. And, I certainly care about God's Kingdom and serving in the city, but I've forgotten what I'm passionate about in the midst of trying to do everything and meet every need.
As my desert season has extended beyond the time I thought I could muster up the motivation to carry on, I've realized I just can't do it. It's not in me, not without it being put there by God. I always think I have to DO to fix things, but I think God is telling me to stop doing (that's what got me here in the first place) and listen and wait expectantly for the Lord to rain on my dry soul. Hosea 6:3 puts it like this: "Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
A sermon I listened to recently put all the things God had been speaking to me in perspective. What I lack in my life is Sabbath. Sure, I take days off but then I usually try to distract myself from my stress and struggles by plopping in front of the TV, or surfing the internet, or eating, or...the list goes on. But that is not the kind of sabbath God commanded us to observe. In fact, I rarely ever think about it as a command. It's not just that I spend more hours of my Sundays trying to "switch off" than seek the Lord, but that I don't have a life set to a rhythm of God's renewal. I don't have a life fueled by sabbath and yet expect to find rest. I try to do more, which results in listening less.
We live in a culture that drives us at a frantic pace, it tells us we can do it all. But, deep down we know life isn't supposed to be like that, it just usually takes a wipe out with a mouth full of dirt for us to stop and acknowledge it.
So, here I am. My soul is dry. But I am expectant. The Lord will come to me as the the spring rains that water the earth. There will be renewal. But I must press on to know the Lord, and structure my life with a rhythm of sabbath.
Perhaps you too, need more sabbath in your life? From one dry soul seeking God's renewal to another let me suggest hitting the pause button on life, finding a quiet place and engaging with God. A good place to start might be with a few songs that have spoken to me lately, and Darrin Patrick's sermon "Jesus & Sabbath":
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restore my soul.