Last week was a rough one for me physically…
First I came down with some kind of a stomach bug on Monday (thankfully was better by Tuesday night) and then struggled with some discouragement/depression Friday morning.
Both of those experiences were good reminders that missions calls for physical care as well as spiritual
It’s easy in ministry to overlook the importance of taking care of yourself with habits such as:
- Proper diet
- Plenty of sleep
- Drinking lots of water (especially in a tropical climate)
- And paying attention to “warning signals” your body may be sending
However I’ve learned the hard way ignoring your physical health has disastrous effects on ministry (God can’t use you when your throwing up, and the rooms spinning).
Because of this I’ve made the habit of taking “cat naps” part of my ministry schedule.
Because the weather here is so hot I tend to rise early when its cool (before 5:00) so by afternoon my body is usually dragging. My mind in particular is in a fog since much of my work is mentally taxing (sermon prep, theology notes, Revelation classes). So every afternoon after lunch I turn on the air-conditioning, get in bed, and sleep for at least 30 minutes.
At first this was difficult because my body told me there was plenty of work left to do, but after skipping my cat nap for a few days I realized that thirty-minutes of rest led to much greater productivity.
Yes it is possible to push through and continuing to work, but its amazing how much of a difference even ten or fifteen minutes of rest can make.
Though rough physical days are no fun, I’m thankful for them because they create patterns of rest in life. Rest that allows me to serve the Lord with a physical as well as spiritual excellence.
As a Missionary I know God emphasizes faithfulness (or consistency) over fruit, but that doesn’t mean lack of fruit isn’t depressing.
the Lord allowed me to go through two discouraging moments last week. The first was a service that almost nobody attended (we had sickness, people traveling out of town, and members out of the Country), the second was no children coming to Bible Club that afternoon.
On days like that it’s easy to become angry at the people who don’t come, or retreat into self pity…but both of those responses overlook an important point.
God is the one who brings the increase
to explain it very simply
- My job is to continue working diligently, and trust God to do the rest
- It’s Gods job to do a work in hearts
In a way I believe those moments of discouragement are tools that God uses to test our faith in Him. Will we try to “fix the problem” or believe the Lord is still in control of the situation?
AS SOMEONE WHO LEARNED THE HARD WAY YOU CANNOT PRODUCE MINISTRY FRUIT BY WORKING HARDER, LET ME ENCOURAGE YOU TO SIMPLY TRUST GOD WHEN PEOPLE DON’T COME.
BECAUSE THOSE WHO RELY ON HIM WILL BEAR “MUCH FRUIT.”
Yesterday a boy came to Bible Club very excited to show me his new Bible. Last year we started using a chart listing the books of the Bible, and I have a standing challenge for anybody who could name every book of the Old Testament without any help. When the time came for our challenge he was almost beside himself, “Mr. John I can do it!” He then proceeded to list them all by memory (okay I helped with Habakuk).
the thing about ministry (and life) is sometimes we cannot clearly see God working, but even in the most discouraging moments we know he is still producing fruit.
About a year ago while visiting my brother’s family I went to a store to help my niece buy a backpack for school. She picked out one with wheels that the “big kids used” but this idea was quickly shut down by her mother.
One of the greatest lessons the Lord has taught me through the frustrating situations of life is what we view as strength is actually weakness.
During my young adult years whenever a person asked how I was doing my response would always be “fine” even if it wasn’t true. This is actually common practice while making small talk but this response had dealt with my view of humility.