In a dry and weary land…when the parched palette of ministry has got you down.
It was another Tuesday night. Another chance to connect with the small group Bible study I led. I arrived early, thirsty for the chance to grab a piece of quiet in what seemed like an endless period of time. My introverted self just needed a little time alone; I had been busy, too busy, at work; I had traveled over the weekend; and I had met a friend from out of town, along with others, for dinner the night before. That day had been hectic, and I was just yearning for a little time of quiet. So I arrived early, grabbed a snack, and enjoyed the peace that surrounded me. I had not worn a watch that day, and the room in the church where we met did not have a clock nearby. I grabbed my cell phone out of my bag to check the time. It was 7 o’clock. We were supposed to be starting. And I was still alone. Almost two handfuls of small groups met at the church on Tuesday nights, so there was plenty of activity in the halls. But my room was silent. I was curious, however a couple of my ladies tended to trickle in late. I pulled out some paper and began to journal.
It had been so long since I had journaled. It used to be like breathing to me. It was time of introspection, inspection, and adoration of my Father and my Savior. It used to be a time for seeing my thoughts on paper and being able to see where and why I had gone awry. It was praise. It was worship. It was exactly what I needed to quench the thirst of that day.
And just as before, it drew me to the realization that I had left aside the very thing that brought me closest to the throne of God.
I was Ephesus
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil…and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…” –Revelation 2:2-5
I was doing the work. But I have left the Love. The journaling that always brought me close to the Throne had been absent from my life. The calm that came with slowing down enough to write, therefore, was also absent. How could I hope to lead these women from a place of hurried dryness?
He who has an ear, let him hear
Am I willing to listen in those times? Am I willing to follow the lead of my Savior to take the time and be still before him? So often Jesus’ transforming moments happen in the quiet day-to-day.
“So (Jesus) came to a city of Samaria…Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from his journey, sat thus by the well…A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’…Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” –John 4:4-7,13-14
The woman was going to the well as an outsider. She would return with the deepest gift anyone could ever receive. She was willing to hear what the Stranger had to say. She was willing to give Him water, though He seemed ill-prepared. She opened her heart as He spoke. And she would be forever changed.
To him who overcomes
The parched places of ministry are common–more common than we are willing to admit. Crossing the desert requires persistence, patience, and an understanding of which direction is the right way to go. Be willing to encounter Him in the unlikeliest of places. You may just find a Friend wanting to share a drink of water with you. And you may just walk away eternally refreshed.
When you faced the parched places, reflect, repent, rejuvenate, and return.
Reflect—what drew you to the ministry? What impassioned you in Christ?
Repent—why did you leave the first love?
Rejuvenate—what do you need to return? Do you need to change your schedule? Change your habits? Change your perspective? Write it down. Incorporate it. And prioritize it above all else. Seek first the kingdom of God and all the rest will be added.
Return—we are drawn to those with passion. We may not share the passion, but we are drawn to passionate people. Your people will be drawn to what you are sharing because you have returned to the love that impassioned you in the beginning.
Photo by Lucy Clegg