Friday, November 03, 2006

Thinking Aloud About Rest and Stress

For the very small number of people who have asked for an update on the youth group kid in my last blog, suffice it to say that nothing new has happened. Youth group stuff is still interesting, although I've lost the momentary passion I had during that blog post and have retreated to wishing I could just do the couple things I do well: preach and play guitar.

Stress seems to be taking over my life right now. Finals, papers, work, church, commuting, relationships, and the lack of time to adequately handle all of those have frankly left me feeling a bit depressed this week. Why do we work ourselves to death like this?

Monday morning I preached at our student-led contemporary worship service, talking about how a recent death in Eileen's family had reminded me of my purpose for ministry: proclaiming the resurrection life that comes with following Jesus Christ. That's a very broad purpose-statement, applicable supposedly to any Christian. Even so, in the midst of my more specific life situations and ministries in which I'm involved, I'm coming up short on motivation right now.

Dr. Son, my Christian Education professor, made a comment on Tuesday that caught my attention: "Rest is not the absence of labor. It is to rediscover the purpose of our labor." I have a short period absent from labor every Friday night and Saturday morning - but that hasn't been providing the rest I need this year. What I need is to reconnect with the very One whom I preached about as the purpose for ministry: Jesus.

I'm learning now that I need a Sabbath that is specifically focused toward God. I need to pray. I need to practice spiritual disciplines like fasting, silence, mediation and reflection. But my early mornings now are spent in Hebrew homework rather than in prayer. One solution might be "practicing the presence of God", a la Brother Lawrence. The first time I read that book it changed my whole view of spirituality, yet it's remarkably hard to follow through on, especially when you aren't doing manual labor such as dish-washing or gardening the way he did. Lord God, please help me now - I need You alone to pull me through times like this.

"Strangely out of place
There's a light filling this room
Where none would follow before.
I can't deny it burns me up inside.
I fan the flames to melt away my pride.
Do I want shelter from the rain,
Or the rain to wash me way?

Face to the ground to hide the fatal cut.
I fight the weight; feel you lift me up.
Can't deny it burns me up inside.
I fan the flames to melt away my pride.
Only had a second to spare
But all the time in the world
To know You're there.
You are the shelter from the rain
And the rain to wash me away
I need You, I need You, I need You."
-Jars of Clay-


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're figuring it out. Writing is a good way to do that. I still haven't finished reading the Brother Lawrence book--I wonder where I put it?

(and it was great to see you and E over the weekend!)

Mike Demmon said...

"Rediscover the purpose of our labor" I like that a lot. Thanks for this reflection, Chris