>What do we do when the “busyness” of our lives, even the “busyness” of God’s work that includes reaching out for our church in our community, leaves us tired? What must we think when we find ourselves tired, even as we think how glad we are that we were there, that we were at the school helping show the children a good time (proudly wearing the shirt with our church’s name on it), or maybe the time we’re at the school to read a book to a class of second-graders, or another time to tuck ourselves into a corner there with only one student, to listen to her, to hear about her troubled home life, and then read her a story (thinking the story will distract her, or show we care, or even help her with reading, when we know what she needs is more than what we can give….but we try to give something?). What must we think when rushing to a meeting of the local Habitat for Humanity, planning to build a home for someone less fortunate, talking about a Faith Build in our community, talking about our church’s place in the inter-faith community to make a house happen, postpones our dinner, and causes our stomach to growl? Shouldn’t these activities give us energy? After all, we’re doing the work of Christ, we’re His hands and His feet, spreading His message (not by words but by action) where people need to feel loved. The same thing can be said about helping the elderly, being there for our parents when they need us, showing patience to them and to our children, to anyone who needs us. What can we do about the weariness that overcomes us when it seems everyone needs us, and there isn’t enough of the “us” to go around?
What is the root of this weariness? Is it because the “busyness” of being the hands and feet of Christ is sometimes just that – being the hands and feet, but not the heart? Do we sometimes become so busy ourselves doing God’s work that we forget who is the One we’re representing, the One we’re modeling? Do we forget it isn’t only US out there, attending the meeting, volunteering at the school, ministering in our way to our parents, our friends, and children? Maybe the weariness comes from the our presuming we’re representing God while forgetting to include God? Are we so busy that we forget to ask for God’s help? Do we forget that we are the heart of God, too, and not just His hands and feet? Do we forget that all things we do should be for the glory of God?
Speaking for myself, I know I’m only flesh and blood. I get up every day, drink coffee, and go about the personal business of planning my day, occupied with my concerns and obligations, distracted by the minutia of what the hours before me hold. Most of the time I’m not all that weary or tired…..yet. Most of the time I have the energy, the desire, to live my day out the way I plan. I can always count on a few surprises in my day, and those surprises are sometimes good, sometimes refreshing, making me realize that my plans aren’t God’s plan, at least not as much as I’d like to think. Even when the surprises aren’t the good kind, I’m still reminded to ask of myself, “Who am I to think I control my day”? How good I am at practicing the illusion of control. I’m quite the master.
So, where does the weariness come in, why does the faint feeling of fatigue reach my bones when I’ve spent the afternoon helping children who are, for the most part under-privileged, have fun and know that we care about them? Here’s where.
When I try to do anything, but especially God’s work, on my own steam, my own strength, and with my own enthusiasm alone, then I grow tired. When I’m doing it with God, when I let God power my energy and be the power behind my “busyness” in His name, the fatigue usually isn’t there, and when it is, I don’t notice it as much. If I remember to include God in the activities, to ask for His strength for the things I’m doing for Him, remarkably there is enough energy to handle pushing myself, breaking through the human condition of needing to stop and rest. When I am also God’s heart and not only His hands and feet, I move to a different plane altogether, one where the strength and ability to do these works in His name isn’t difficult, for aren’t I doing them in love? Aren’t I doing them in love for my fellow man the way what He does for me in love?
The antidote for fatigue and weariness when doing what I know to be God’s work is to let God really work through me, to power my hands and feet when I present myself as HIS hands and feet. When I go about my business, thinking I’m doing His work but using my own small store of energy, not asking for His strength to get me through, or His will to guide me as I represent Him, I can grow tired, I can grow weary, I can wonder if I’m doing enough, and mostly, I can grow frustrated. Doing God’s work without including God is much like running on empty. Doing God’s work without including God is more about doing my own work, and no matter how good it may be, it only represents me until I let God in.
So that’s it. The antidote to that fatigue and frustration is God. If I always, always let God do His work through me (instead of telling God, “I’ve got this; You can handle something else today”) I will experience renewed energy, renewed gratitude, and renewed spirit. I will experience God.
This thought process isn’t new. I know better, but the human in me thinks I can handle most things. The human in me forgets that my Father is waiting and willing to fill me with His sprit and His love so that I truly am doing His work instead of mine, truly becoming His hands and feet instead of using mine in His name while actually drawing from my own shallow stores of energy. Well-intentioned I may be, but only half of God’s work is happening. Yes, His servant (me) is serving His people, but I’ve left Him behind in attempting to do it all on my own. I’ve not offered my activity up to Him, have not asked for His guidance and strength. Don’t misunderstand, there are plenty of times when I do just that, when I know I need Him, I need His strength and guidance to do His work. It’s simply that sometimes I get so busy that I’m even too busy to stop and ask for what I need. That simply doesn’t make sense, and smacks of arrogance on my part.
Some of us have to learn the same lesson many times. When will I ever learn?
Oh God, my Father, Maker of Heaven and Earth, help me to always, always remember it is YOU who is guiding my attempts to minister, to help my fellow human beings in Your name. Help me to remember to always include You and ask for Your strength. Thank you, Father, for all the blessings you bestowed upon me, and when I share those blessings with others, may I include You, my benefactor, in my feeble and human efforts. I ask this of you in the name of your precious and holy son, Amen.