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Posts Tagged ‘Self Care’

A wise mentor said, “Where the Lord is most at work, Satan is most at work too.” To be perfectly honest, I’ve spent a lot more time contemplating the Lord than I have Satan. I believe that there is evil within the world, but I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about “Satan”– I don’t know that folks in my denomination really talk about this as much as do folks in some other traditions. But maybe for the first time, I’ve been contemplating the idea of a force that is really working against me.

For the past three Sundays, I’ve been so sick that I’ve either gone home completely, or preached a really bad sermon, or just sat down and let a video preach to my congregation. (Well, it had a purpose, and the folks really wanted to see it, but still…) Granted, I’ve been sick on other days too (it’s been a really rough few weeks!) but it’s been the absolute worst on the days that I needed to feel my best. Sundays are not the time for a preacher to be sick. Folks have suggested that it’s anxiety, but I really don’t think so. I LOVE to preach, and worship. Perhaps it’s excitement, and maybe that’s been the catalyst for such nasty sickness. (Though a good part of my congregation, I think, believes I’m pregnant despite my repeated arguments that I’m not.) I think it’s interesting that the day I was preaching the John the Baptist passage where he calls his followers a “brood of vipers”, was the day when I was the most sick. (Which I was going to preach as good news– NOT as the finger pointing passage it could be).

Perhaps this is ridiculous. Surely there is an “earthly”, medical, logical explanation. And who am I that Satan (whatever or whoever that is) would want to bother with me anyway? Yet I can’t help but wonder.

But, I think, what I hold onto is if Satan is the most active where the Lord is most active, then the converse must also be true. Wherever Satan is most active, there the Lord is hardest at work. Pithy though it sounds, for me this is a great comfort. Besides, if I might be right about a force working against me, then that must mean that the church is taking steps towards God… which I’d guess, would anger a devil, but would actually be quite good news. Hmmmm….

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I know, I know… the Dry Bones guy was Ezekiel. Joshua was the oft needle-pointed “Choose this Day Whom you will Serve” guy. But for me, the two danced together today.

I’m feeling the beginnings of a valley of dry bones coming on. There isn’t any plainer way to say it: I’m tired. I’m staying so busy that I don’t spend much time with my husband. I don’t exercise. I don’t clean. (Fortunally, DH is really trying to help out as much as he can!) I don’t really do fun things. All the things I learned about the importance of self-care, both in seminary and by being a preacher’s kid, seem to apply to everyone else but me. As far as I can tell– I’m a super-hero. Except that I’m not.

The last few days, I’ve been praying among other things, that God would make my dry bones rise up. I’m starting to feel brittle, as if I’ve been baking in the sun too long with nothing to quench my thirst. One of the great surprises about ministry thus far is that maintaining my own spirituality is not the easy task I once supposed it to be. In fact, it’s really tough. I spend much of my time in prayer and in reading the scriptures, but sometimes the “business” of it all zaps all the life out of it.

This morning, things came to a head when I purposely set my alarm for 5 a.m.– yeah that’s right. On a Saturday. On my day “off”. I woke up and I was so angry that this was necessary, which was only compounded by the fact that I also worked quite a number of hours yesterday too. Also my day “off”. I began praying as I usually do in the few minutes before my alarm goes off again. And I began to weep from the sheer overwhelmingness of it.

One of the reasons that I was up so early was that I had been asked to speak at my presbytery’s fall Presbyterian Women’s gathering which was to take place this morning. Yeah, I was flattered to be asked to do it, but I was downright resentful this morning to think about losing that much more of my already precious weekend. But I began going over my notes for my talk on Joshua (the subject for the PW’s study for the next…while.) I was opening the talk with Lectio Divina using a couple of early verses from Joshua. “I will give you every place you set your foot, as I promised Moses. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Suddenly, it dawned on me– that that was a powerful promise made not only to Joshua, but to tired, ordinary, not super-hero, me. I began looking back over my notes about the ways that God showed faithfulness to the promises made to Joshua, and the ways that God was such an adamant defender of the covenant. I had glibly written as a closing line, “It may be a great temptation for you to read through this book, and think, ‘What an amazing man Joshua was!’ But that misses the point. It wasn’t about what a great guy Joshua was– it’s about what a great God Joshua served.”
Huh…I’m smarter than I thought.

I’m still wickedly tired. But slightly restored. And I even had a genuinely good time speaking to all those women this morning. Joshua wasn’t in the Valley of Dry Bones– but even if he had been, God would have been present, and working toward his restoration. Just as God is doing with me.

The subtitle of the Joshua study is: A Journey of Faith. That’s just about the most accurate description of the way things are that I’ve ever heard.

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