Need Some Refreshment?
“I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts.
Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.
That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”
― Bilbo Baggins
I am a believer in “work smarter, not harder.”
And I’m kinda lazy.
Most of my dinners these days are made in the microwave.
I look for the close parking spots.
Whenever some pastor or somebody tells me the same thing I’m about to tell you, my first reaction is usually dread. It sounds exhausting.
What is it, you may ask?
It’s that our God-given calling is to go.
We are called to go to the nations; go to our neighbors; go to the hard places.
We were meant to go out of our comfortable Christian bubble and work.
And whenever I hear that, it fills me with a sort of dread.
The hard truth that I’ve come to believe is that that dread is a lie every time.
Because doing the work God calls me to is always energizing.
What Should Deplete Us Actually Energizes Us
Because when I’m doing what I was made to do, it revives my spirit. Proverbs 3:7-8 says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be a healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body.”
Walking in the footsteps of Jesus is healing and refreshing. It satisfies the cry of our hearts to be one with Him.
Walking in the footsteps that feel right to me, that the world is telling me are right, sucks the life out of me. I never feel more lifeless after a day of watching Netflix and eating terrible food.
On the flip side, nothing energizes me more than doing the work God is calling me to.
Case Study: Me
At the beginning of the fall semester, I never got out of bed before 9–and 9 was pushing it. I probably idolized sleep a little too much, to tell you the truth. And then, all of a sudden, I felt the call to kids’ ministry. Kind of out of the blue. My church has a really awesome Sunday school program that was in serious need of volunteers, so I signed up. And then the ball dropped: I was going to have to get to the church at 7:30 in the morning every other Sunday. I seriously had to talk myself out of backing out as soon as I found that out. It’s only one semester, I thought. I can do this.I heard the calling, and I wanted to answer.
That was how I found out how amazing it actually can be to wake up early. The first time I woke up and looked out the window to see the sun about to rise, I knew there was no going back. Not only that, but volunteering as a Sunday school teacher was my confirmation that I was going to go into youth ministry. At the end of last year, I was pretty sure I didn’t like kids at all. Now I’m so passionate about kids and youth ministry that I changed my major and I’m not considering any other future.Oh, and I signed up again at the beginning of this semester.
I wouldn’t have experienced any of that if I had dedicated my Sunday mornings to “self care.” You know the kind: sleeping in, pampering yourself, etc. I would still be in a major I wasn’t sure about with a very foggy view of the future.
Comfort and Energy that Lasts
Going on prayer walks and telling people I don’t know that Jesus loves them and volunteering in Sunday school at 7:30 in the morning are some of the most energizing experiences I’ve had, and I’m a huge introvert.
Society’s message to us is that comfort is the way to life. It teaches dependence on caffeine and weekends and relaxation. Tired? Drink more coffee. Or, just keep your head up–it’s almost Friday. Or, take some time to relax and kick up your feet.
How often do the effects of those things actually last? How often do they leave us feeling better than when we started? How often are they refreshing? How often do they put the light back in our eyes?
In short, living for ourselves will always be unsatisfying–we will always need more comfort than we currently have.
The Life-Finding Paradox
Jesus said that anyone who tries to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for His sake will find it. Whenever I read that, I always think in terms of spiritual life; whoever tries to find life/fulfillment/wholeness through selfish gain will find emptiness, and whoever gives his life to Jesus and dies to himself actually finds life and fulfillment and wholeness.
Jesus turned the entire world on its head when He came to this earth. Maybe that’s why the gospel is so hard for us to wrap our minds around. None of it makes sense–not Jesus’ backwards way of living, not the free gift of life separate from any action on our part, not turning the other cheek wen someone strikes us.
Where Are You Going?
I would encourage you to take some time today just to ask God what that kind of life looks like for you practically. Where is He calling you to go? What is He calling you to do? Who is He calling you to? It might not be glamorous–in fact, it’s probably not going to be. But we don’t need to be afraid of what He might say because He is always looking out for our best interests. Not our best earthly interests, but our real ones. The ones we might not even be aware of.
Click here for the next post! It’s about going to the non-glamorous places to find the people who are on the outside and bring them in.