Sunday, November 14, 2010
Waters of Encouragement!
It had been a rough week that was capped off by a bumpy Saturday morning. I mean, I’ve got my hands in a lot of activities, and I had begun to feel like I was wasting my time. I just didn’t see much “return on the investment” so to speak. I wasn’t sensing much impact from my efforts. Thus, I began to feel empty, useless, and weary.
I wish I could say that I handled that feeling perfectly. I wish I could say that I didn’t get too introspective; that I didn’t withdraw into a mini bout of depression. If I said it, it wouldn’t be true.
So, what did I do? Well, I took a long shower and poured my pain out in prayer while the water poured over my shoulders. I couldn’t really explain my feelings, so I just asked God to read my heart and make it clear what I needed to do, and where I really stood.
Then, I took a walk, and as I walked down the street, praying, thinking, moping, and pouting, I crossed a small creek. I glanced down its length through the brush and noticed that it had no water flowing. The creek was dry. It occurred to me that it was a good metaphor for how I was feeling. My creek was dry. My spirit had evaporated.
I asked myself some questions while walking. Am I not relying on God enough? Am I trying too hard? Should I just stop trying so hard, and let things flow the way that they will? Should I back out of my responsibilities and quit?
Other than the first question, I really didn’t have any answers. I definitely haven’t been relying on God enough…a personal weakness. But, remember, when I was in the shower, I asked God to show me where I stood and what I should do.
I think that’s what He did.
First, I went to a 1st birthday party for a son of some of our friends, and made a new friend of a young person with a mutual interest in writing. It lifted my spirits to sit and talk about something that I really enjoy doing with someone who is so obviously full of enthusiasm for the same craft (Thanks, Andrea).
When I got home, I had a message from a friend who had started his own blog. He told me that I had inspired him (Thanks, Scott).
Later, we had the Young Adults over from our church, and I sat until late at night talking with some of the guys. I had taken it as a personal project to get this group off the ground, and it has been slow to really get going. It was weighing on me that it wasn’t as successful as I had hoped. Some of my spiritual water had flowed into this program and seemingly had dried up. However, while talking with the guys, one of them told me that his spiritual life had changed 180 degrees from last spring, and he attributed it to the establishment and activities of the group (Thanks, Logan).
After they left, I went to bed. In one of my dreams, I was in a worship service at church and it was obviously a rousing, enthusiastic experience. I looked over, and there was a guy who is a regular attendee, but is not a member, and who is usually stoic in our meetings. He was standing, and worshipping with all his heart, and inspiring and encouraging everyone around him to give praise to God. Here’s the interesting thing about that…our worship is another area that I have been laboring in to try to spur more heartfelt and genuine, enthusiastic, overflowing praise. It has felt a fruitless endeavor. Was God telling me to keep going; that I was affecting people in good ways that I just could not see? I don’t know, but that’s how it felt.
Finally, I went to church this morning, and had two more reinforcements.
First, I was sharing with a friend who is a former elder that I had been feeling useless and that my efforts were wasted. I have a great deal of respect for this man, and I consider him a mentor. He just looked at me and said, “You know better than that. You’re doing a lot of good.” (Thank you, Keith.)
Secondly, I had a guy who has been helping me with the Sports Ministry, which I had established as a means of building fellowship and as an outreach tool, stop me to let me know that we “have a success story” from our ministry! He shared that one of the guys in our football league, who has some troubles, as many young guys often do, was showing some real interest in coming to our church. My spiritual co-worker was excited that we were making an impact. (Thank you, Greg)
Inside, without really forming the words in my mind, I think I finally turned my mind to God and said: "Okay! I get it! I’ll keep going!"
(Thank you, God!)
The Bible says to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. It says to encourage one another daily. Thank you to those of you who have encouraged me. I have needed it the last couple of days. I can’t say the water is rushing down my spiritual creek yet, but it is flowing again. I appreciate you all.