At the end of the summer my husband and I will become empty nesters. Sort of. It has weighed on my mind that I should start doing more, as I will have more free time. Right? A dear friend has cautioned me about getting too busy and thinking that I will have oodles of time on my hands. One ministry opportunity in particular has been presented to me as a good option. It’s something I could really get behind. I’ve been asking the Lord to show me what to do.
And this past week, I believe He answered. First of all, my husband expressed his desire that I not get involved in this particular ministry, at least not on a regular basis. That should have been clear enough for me, but I’m stubborn and swayed by guilt at times. So the Lord spoke again to me today through a Bible study I’m going through with a friend. (I am borrowing heavily from Beth Moore’s Breaking Free study here…)
Isaiah 28:11b-13 says: God will speak to this people, to whom he said,
“This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose”—but they would not listen. So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there so that as they go they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured.
This is a warning from God to his people that if they reject God’s wisdom and don’t rest, their busy-ness will become frantic, legalistic bondage that ultimately ends in their injury. Beth Moore says, “Pure exhaustion can cause us to lose spiritual ground.” I thought about times where this was true for me. I was worn out, drained, and did succumb more easily to temptation. We all become more irritable and touchy when we’re tired.
I was also thinking of some of the things I have always believed about activity and busy-ness:
- People who are busy are important. (Conversely, if I’m not busy, I’m not important!)
- If I have the ability to do something, I should
- People who don’t do everything they are asked to (especially in church or ministry) are selfish and lazy
- Saying “no” isn’t nice
I need to think about what I believe and what lies I’m allowing to influence my decisions. Truth is found in God’s Word, and Jesus invited us to come to Him in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Several points from this verse: first, Jesus invites us to come to him for rest. He doesn’t command it! We can stay burdened and stressed if we choose to. The Greek word for gentle used here means “kind.” Jesus, in his kindness, invites us to a place of comfort and rest if we will run to him and learn from him. If we look at his ministry, he didn’t do everything and go everywhere he was asked to. He often took time away to pray and hear from his Father. And lastly, Jesus who was a carpenter, knew about yokes. He probably had made scores of them while working with his father Joseph. Oxen are put into yokes to help them stay together and work better in tandem plowing or hauling a load. The yoke Jesus invites us to be in is in partnership with HIM and His yoke fits us perfectly. He has all the power and is doing the heavy lifting anyway! That’s why the burden is easy.
So the point of this lesson for me was that we must do what God has specifically called us to do, after we have asked for wisdom and guidance. We must minister and work from a place of rest and fulfillment, not a place of obligation, coercion or exhaustion. I must reject the voices that tell me I should say yes to everything. We are all uniquely gifted and have different roles in the Kingdom of God. As long as we’re being obedient and listening for His voice, we will be doing the right things. Through the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit!
Thank you, Lord, for giving me clear direction. Keep me attentive to your voice I pray.