WE TRIED THAT ONCE, IT FAILED, AND WE ARE NOT DOING IT AGAIN
Have you heard that before? We tried it. Didn’t get the results we wanted. Therefore, it must be a bad idea. Let me ask you a question: How many things have you failed at the first time but you kept going and it was worth it? The answer is, several things. Walking, reading, talking, riding a bike, a sport, swimming, first date, etc. When we hear that phrase, the question is, What is really being said? The comment could come from a place of fear, hurt, frustration, or fill-in-the-blank. I think under all that, it comes from a sense of hopelessness. Humans will not do something without hope. We do not attempt things unless there is hope, even with things we enjoy. I enjoy flats fishing, but there are times when I feel like it is hopeless and will stop or not fish at all. I will stay home because it is not worth the effort. Sometimes I go but my heart and mind are not in it. Those are usually the times I get that unexpected bite and I miss hooking the fish. ARRGH!!!
Where are you today, emotionally? Are you …
- … filled with hope and enjoying ministry, believing God will make a difference?
- … doing the ministry, but your mind and heart are not really present?
- … or … staying home or in the office because it is not worth the effort?
After this Easter, I was in the second and third category. We had a fabulous Easter, but I was just empty. Plans didn’t work to go away. I still needed to get stuff from the storage unit to home and get home organized, etc. Then last Sunday, a man came up to me in tears. He said, “You need to know you are touching people that you have no idea you are affecting.” He continued as tears progressively became greater, “You change my life.” I replied, “Thank you, but God did that.” The man responded, “You do not understand. My life was about baseball until I came to your Easter service in 2012. My life changed in that service to be about Jesus. I sold my home on 30a and went to Guatemala to do mission work. I started a sports ministry. God blessed it and gave me favor to be the first American coach to coach in their professional league where I share my faith daily. You need to know you are changing lives.”
I want to encourage you—do not let Satan take you out. We have the sure Word of God that tells us His Word does not return void and that our service is not in vain. This is truly all we need, but sometimes we have the privilege of hearing a testimony and see the fruit of our labor. Keep a file on those stories. I have a file of meaningful letters and cards I have received over the years. When I feel down, I read through them and reflect.
In Leviticus 6, Moses told the priest to keep the fire burning day and night on the altar. It must never go out. This required the priest to gather the supplies needed to keep the fire burning day and night. What supplies do you need to keep burning? I am sure there are more, but I find the following:
- PRAY FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME
When is the last time we have spent an hour in prayer? Stretch your prayer time. Double whatever it is. Karl Barth wrote, “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
- DIG INTO HIS WORD
No surprise here, but make sure you are spending God time for you and not the next talk.
Rest is a gift from God. When we rest from our labor, we are also activating our faith because we are saying I trust God to build and care for the church, which includes me. It is not all on my shoulders.
We were created for the garden. We were made to enjoy creation and re-create with activity. Do something outside physically. Bike riding is still my favorite way to recreate.
Jesus went to Bethany often. He visited Mary, Martha, and Lazarus who, according to the Scriptures, He loved. These were friends who opened their home and hearts to Jesus … who He shared meals and late-night conversations with. They were close and I think His relationships with them were refreshing. What relationships fill the tank for you? Who do you enjoy just hanging out with, with no agenda?
- OTHER IDEAS?
Please add yours in the comments.
- PRAY FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME
by: Rev. Jason Scheler, Mission Executive of the LCMS Southern District