Thursday, February 26, 2009

Exhaustion

I am exhausted.

Every year since 3rd grade I have spent the spring preparing for Awana Bible Quiz. Beginning my freshman year Bible Quiz went national, held with other events over about four days in April. Leading up to those days, I prepare for them when waking and anticipate them when dreaming. When that week ends each year, I fly home and sleep for the next thirty hours. As it is only February when I write, you may have guessed this is not the source of my weariness.

The past couple weeks I have felt similarly invested in and nervous about the unfolding events at my church. Unlike the Bible Quiz, where mentors, coaches, and friends showed me how to cope, and exemplified how to pray, this situation has left me much more directionless, confused, and even isolated. I don’t know what to pray, let alone what to do or say. Most of the time I pray for wisdom and God has come through guarding my tongue. My whole life, though, is guarded. All of my thought must be focused and alert when I am in the middle of these situations. Emotions must be allowed to flow on, but checked and restrained at the same time.

As if all this wasn’t difficult enough, the rest of my life – and my friends’ lives – continues. I still have a job, and books to read. My friends are still looking for jobs and having surgeries and meeting “princes” and raising children and putting food on the table. Laundry must still be done. Birthdays continue to come. Spring is here, and I am doing the Bible Quiz preparation that has become an annual venture.

There is no one-week end to such high-intensity living. Nor am I convinced that sleeping for 30 hours straight would relieve my exhaustion. Figuring out how to cope transfers into my sleeping hours as well.

The praise is that God has not left me. He even prepared me, quietly and gently, for these developments. At the end of the summer, He said, “Change.” And looking back I can’t tell whether it was a command or a warning. He’s been teaching me about love and peace, and before that about Church. Our Awana group is studying the Will of God, but we are quizzing over Galatians (walk in the spirit vs. walking by clear-cut answers/legalism) and Ephesians (the Spirit’s power in the Church). The Holy Spirit has come up in conversations and blogs and sermons and lessons a whole lot lately, and I believe God is trying to tell me something there, or help me cope, or prepare me for a new experience in the whole thing. Sometimes I think He’s just trying to remind me that He’s paying attention.

Psalms 75:1, " Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare."

I have been crying out to God for my church. In light of all God has brought to mind about His Spirit, I have been asking that our church would be led by the Spirit, would defer to the Spirit, would trust in the Spirit’s more mighty power, and that we would begin, through humility, to experience that power in a way that we refused to allow before.

This is a challenge to me. Over the years there have been several times that I thought life might be more pleasant or simple for me if I were to find a new church, but each time God has given me some new motivation (whether conviction or friendliness or strength from other directions) to stay. Now, like it or not, I am at my church, and at least for the duration of the present situation, I belong here. The line from Esther replays in my mind: “For such a time as this…”

Sometimes I think this is like marriage. Hard times come, and I want to pack my bags and say good-bye to all this trouble - but I won't. Love says no. The argument goes on between the most basic desires and instincts in my heart: love, "stay" want, "go." love, "no!" want, "yes, please! please?" Life today is a forge, perhaps, teaching me about commitment and selfless love: proving to me that with God, it is possible to hold on as hard as things may get. I won’t draw the metaphor too far, however. No vow has been made on my part to be forever joined to the congregation I attend. I am constrained only to love others, to serve them as I would any Christian, to demonstrate love and faithfulness and patience. In the words of Romans, I am pursuing the things which make for peace, and the things by which one may edify another.

The pursuit of perseverance is always hard, and hardest when the hope is most narrow. My own attitude wavers between despair, distance, and hope. The challenge is to put my hope in God, who alone can build us up into one body, one mature representation of the glory and love of our Head and Redeemer. If He can buy us back from the ugly wages of sin while we were yet rebelling against Him, then He can heal my church.

To God be all glory.

3 comments:

Danny said...

Sometimes it seems like people can get angry about the smallest things when it comes to church and other Christian endeavors. I try to keep in mind that one of the reasons for this, is that Christian issues are very important for dedicated Christians, so they are less likely to just give up quickly, as they might for things that are less important to them. That might not be much consolation, but I think it helps to remember that at some level they're trying to do what they feel to be right.

I think you already know without me telling you, but prayer, love, patience and humility is what is needed for this kind of situation.

-Danny

SarahLydiaForgath said...

Wow, Lisa.
And I thought you were going to say something about me not studying...

I've been praying for you:)

Lisa of Longbourn said...

Thank you, both.

The prayer and encouragement go a long way.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn