I do need space y'all. I am one of those people who loves to be around other people and talk and visit and have fun. And then go home and spend like 16 hours reading or thinking or staring at a wall. It's just how I'm made. I have to digest and analyze and work through all of that social interaction.
Well, in the last couple of weeks my schedule has been heavy on the social side, lacking in the time to breathe and think side. And when I say "social" it's probably not what a lot of you would consider social time. It's ministry time. It's people stopping by our house, phone calls or church activities. I have to be honest that sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes my very human nature gets tired and whiny and tells my husband that he chose the wrong wife. I'm not cut out to be a preacher's wife. I'm all wrong. I'm not outgoing enough. I get tired and sick too easily. I'm not a "planner" or an "organizer". Seriously, I feel that way 97.3% of the time. I don't doubt for a second that Josh is called to be a preacher, but sometimes I truly wonder if we could rent someone to stand in as the preacher's wife. Someone who specializes in all of the things I feel that I'm lacking. I know. I'm crazy.
Mostly, I'm just tired. I've just accepted that being tired is going to be par for the course for me. And sometimes it seems that when I am the most tired, God has the most for us to do in our ministry. Let me stop here and tell you what I consider "ministry". I am not an event planning, committee leading kinda gal. For me ministry is listening to stories of broken hearts, meeting physical needs when we can, loving on kids who need some love and sharing what Jesus has done for me. And sometimes those things are really, really hard to do when your mind and body are screaming "I need a break!"
Lately our house feels like it has become Grand Central Station. We live in the parking lot of the church, so people know how to find us. It has been my prayer that God would grow my heart in the area of hospitality and let me tell you, He's tried to give me lots of practice. :) He has really worked on teaching me that hospitality has a lot more to do with my heart than how clean my house is, and I have tried to embrace that. Really, I have. Even when my husband texts me at work to tell me that people stopped by the house to talk to him and I come home and my underwear is in the laundry pile on the couch. It's a little ministry tool we use to get people to confess called "Airing our dirty laundry". JUST KIDDING! It's really called "The Preacher's Wife can't get it together to put the laundry away before work". I think we will begin drills in our house to practice throwing the laundry in a bedroom and shutting the door as fast as possible when the doorbell rings. That's a skill all children should be taught, right?
Anyway, back to the point of this. There is a point. And it's not to whine or complain or make people not want to come to my house. The point of this is that as He always does, God reminded me of how He would handle a situation based on His Word. I actually had this revelation several years ago when we first went into ministry. Josh was preaching about the feeding of the 5,000, but as he moved on to share that miracle, I could not get past the beginning of that passage. You see, often we overlook what happened before that massive, impromptu dinner party. Before that the disciples had been out witnessing and ministering. God was doing amazing things in their lives and other people's lives through them.
30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught.
Now, in the midst of doing awesome, exciting things you would think Jesus would want them to keep going and sharing, right? But Jesus said,
31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.
I'm telling you, the more I know about Jesus the more I love Him. He's my kind of guy. He knew they needed some space. Some unwinding time. Some food!
But then, something happened. Something that reminded the disciples that while they were all still very human and had the same basic needs and desires, their calling was a higher one. One that would often require sacrifice.
33 But the multitudes[a] saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him.
There are a lot of things in ministry that can wait. We make a mistake when we burn ourselves out doing things that are not that important in the grand scheme of things. BUT.....when people are running after Jesus, that is important stuff.
If you skip ahead you see that the disciples reacted a lot like the way I am prone to when ministry presents itself at inopportune times.
35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread;[b] for they have nothing to eat.”
I don't want to put words in the disciple's mouths or thoughts in their heads, but I find myself wondering if they were feeling extra human that night. If their first thought was, "Good grief, I just wanted to eat supper in peace and lay on the couch tonight." Okay, so I don't think they had couches, but you know what I mean? Did they have the panic moment of, "Oh no! I haven't been to the grocery store. All I can offer somebody is a pb&j or a can of pinto beans." It's a bad feeling y'all.
But, if we back up to the moment before the disciples freak out (I'm assuming), we see how Jesus responded, even when He was just as tired and weary as the rest of the group. This verse has completely changed ministry for me.
34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.
Did you catch the reason why Jesus reached out to the crowd? Because people were going to talk bad about Him if he didn't? No. Because He wouldn't go to Heaven if He didn't? No. Because He had bad boundaries and just didn't know when to say no? No. We are told that He was moved with compassion for those people. What an amazing Savior I serve.
There are different reasons to do ministry. For the power and authority. For the money (all you preacher's out there quit laughing!). For the attention. For the earthly or heavenly rewards you anticipate. But at the end of the day, the only kind of ministry that will please Jesus and change lives is the kind that is motivated by compassion. The kind of compassion that moves us off the couch and into the lives of people. The kind that when those people come to our couch moves us from frustration and fatigue to caring and kindness. Compassion takes us from the place of needing more space to needing more Spirit.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9