“And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.”
Oh my dear ones, you imagine your worth is above rubies, and so it is. But all is accomplished by God’s hands, not ours. We sometimes push ourselves beyond our own limits because we have made ourselves indispensable in our heads.
Do we not realise that God’s plans carry on regardless of our abilities? For just as our faults are nothing to him, so are our strengths merely gifts to be used. It is good to do the work set before us by the Lord, but there are also others able to do it. If I don’t write this blog which is fast becoming a book, the world has lost very little, and if it were God’s will, people would read something else far more edifying.
I am willing and I work hard when I am able. But there are lots of days in a sick person’s life, when that ability is just not there. There is no strength, no cognitive energy, the hands and head will not co-operate to bring the words to the paper or the paint to the canvas. And God knows this, and he is patient with me, and all is done according to his will, purpose and timing and not at my behest.
When we are sick or burdened or weary, the Lord promises us rest. He does not sell us a 24/7 work ethic where we must push through barriers of pain and fatigue in order to accomplish a task. Always we must build into our lives and careers the possibility of delegation and understudy. This is, I think, especially necessary in the church, where so many ministers push themselves into breakdowns and health problems. Other people can do the work, whatever it may be. Other people are willing to do it. Other people chosen by God to shine and help.
Let us then cultivate a kingdom where when the eye is weary, another eye can do the seeing. If we are truly all one body with many parts, then we can uphold and encourage one another. We can learn to shadow and mentor closely so that when there is a stepping down or a sabbatical or a time of ill health or of maternity, there are others trained and eager, not to take our place, but to give us the respite we need.
How I wish I had learnt this hard truth earlier in life, the value of rest and of play, the knowing of my own smallness and my identity as one of many in the kingdom. Let us not now be so foolish as to pay the price of Marthadom or misplaced humility, or even of disdainful pride, in breakdowns of heart, mind or body. Instead let us watch out for one another and offer help and support before it is asked for, before it becomes a last resort. And let us ask for it early too.
Always do your best, and always be replaceable. Plan for it, even, so that God’s kingdom, which is so precious, need not falter because you asked too much of yourself and set yourself up for a fall, or because you refused to allow yourself the time to breathe and to drink the living water you are always recommending other people need for life. Let us allow ourselves to be human and weak, and see how much more God can do with that truth, than with our illusions.
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