Fans and Friends and Care-Givers and Marketers
I have been enjoying my family and friends . . . the ones who demand my time and seek after me even when I'm busy with other things. The ones that I always took for granted when I was younger . . . and felt like Christian service required ministry to "the unchurched" and that my family and friends should get busy and work shoulder-to-shoulder with me in ministry to all those in need.
And I have been feeling my own need. I looked today at a picture of staff at St. Andrew's doing ministry together to reach out to our community . . . and realized that, in general, the only time I'd ever actually FELT "ministered to" by them was when I still was one of the newcomers who needed to be involved in their community. The rest of the time I felt either invisible or seen as a resource for ministry or seen as a nuisance who wanted what they couldn't give because they were busy trying to pull more people into a community without depth of relationship. (And that's not an indictment of any of our staff for who they are as people or for their sincere emotions and callings and how they get expressed in the context of relating to me or others . . . it's an indictment of the culture. Good, godly men and women are taught by this particular culture that friendship can and should wait in favor of more important callings.)
And I have been enjoying life. God's grace and provision walked Steven and I through some wise choices in moderating what we could have done financially under the bad mortgage rules and credit rules of the past 5 years, and so the current economic crisis will play out okay for his company and for our family . . . and even if America ends up in a severe depression in our wider economy that did bring real financial crisis, we have resources in our skills and work-ethics and habits that promise security for our kids. So I am sitting in my half-done house that my friends can't understand having taken so long . . . and I am satisfied that we have a house and all the things it takes for us to do for our 6 kids what we want to be able to do for them to prepare them well for life and independence . . . and I am grateful that I get to use my skills to help provide for them financially as well as emotionally, but that I also can take this day to recover from yesterday and to blog and to enjoy music and peace and God and friends. ("Margin" is such a blessing!)
The Kingdom of God is found in simple daily obedience. That doesn't mean I'm not called to minister to those who don't know what it is to walk daily with God in a community of other believers . . . but it means that I don't have to promote or market it! I need to LIVE it, and then welcome those who see it and want some of the same stuff they see with warm arms and real love. (And real love provides deep friendship marked by real time and real attention. That's where we see the real miracles of God "multiplying the fishes and loaves" as we find we have time and attention for those who need it and want it when that becomes our primary calling.)
I am called to be a fan to those in my family and in my community of faith that I love! There is so much there to love!
But more than that I am called to model joy: the joy of ENJOYING what the Triune God has given us to enjoy TODAY in this life and in our relationships with God and with others, and the joy of simple and fervent friendships, both new and old.
So this is my call to all the "Care-Givers" and "Marketers" and "Administrators" and "Ministers" in my community of faith:
When you feel empty and burned out, and when you feel driven and energized . . . STOP.
Enjoy God alone. Re-learn it. Feast on it.
Enjoy your existing friendships. Re-connect. Relax and rejoice!
Cry when crying is what you need to do. Putting on an act cannot substitute for the reality of God's kingdom and its transforming power . . . and He uses our grief to lead us to joy, and our exhaustion to lead us to strength and power.
Enjoy what you have. Trust God for what you don't have (going through the fear and lack of trust to a place of real trust, not trying to skip the honest process for pretend trust) . . . and then turn your attention to what you do have . . . RIGHT HERE and RIGHT NOW.
That kind of kingdom living sells itself.
And meanwhile, you get to just feast on it.
No more pressure to perform.
Simple daily obedience is a pleasure that God offers to each of us. He gives rest to those He loves!
And . . . by the way . . . I still love St. Andrew's and all the wonderful friends I have there who are doing life with me. Real life builds strong bonds that we will enjoy into eternity. Thanks for being you. I love you.