There are days when I read the word of God and am amazed by every second word. It seems there is a revelation waiting to be found in every sentence and my heart cries out with wonder at the mysteries of God. Then, there are times of weariness – physical, and spiritual, when my mind seems dull and the doors to these mysteries seem shut, so that my eyes grow tired seeing words, and my heart cries out “God? Won’t you show Me more?” In such times, character and faith are tested and we decide – will we be sunken under by the wave of weariness, or will we rise above it in worship.
I’ve been through times of weariness before and I’ve always just made a conscious decision to trudge on and persevere because I know Christ is worth it all. I’ve also felt to train my mind to continue worshipping the Lord, even if the pleasant feeling of His tangible touch is not present. At the same time, I cry out to Him the words of [Psalm 51:10-11] – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” I need God’s Spirit in me – it is life, it keeps me in His way, and it makes known to me the mind of God. Recently, however, I learnt some new things about weariness and the Lord caused me to focus on a passage I had not noticed much before. I actually paused for a couple of weeks while writing this piece because I felt I had not yet fully grasped what it meant to worship on the wave of weariness. I knew some things, but there was more God wanted to say, and I wanted to hear it. Apart from getting some good physical rest, and keeping sacred our personal time of rest in God, God highlighted to me the following things –
- Love is more important than ministry.
- Remember the joy of the mundane.
- My promises will sustain you.
There are many things we could explore about seasons of weariness, but we will just focus on the above points for now.
1. Love is More Important than Ministry
Of course, I know this! BUT, God really needed to remind me of this as I begun, once again, to take on more ministry activities. I have a propensity to say “yes” to any ministry opportunity and I desire to be always watching for ways in which I can help build God’s kingdom. However, I have also been through a period of purposely stepping out of that degree of ministry, particularly in the church. I still ministered in whatever opportunity God placed in my path, but I was hesitant to commit to any specific ministry within the church. This was a season of observing, of resting in God and of learning to be still (quite literally), yet find all fulfilment in Him alone. I recognised when that season came to close and initially needed a little nudge to once again, commit to a ministry within the church. Since then, however, the ideas I laid dormant for that season have begun to take shape, and I’ve said yes to more and more of these “ministry activities”. At the same time, work has been tiring at times and I have taken my afternoon naps, a break from the busyness of running around the wards, and ticking off all the various jobs from my list of things to do. I am a mega-keen fan of ticking off to do lists! House-related paperwork, banking and other living-related necessities with all those other little day-to-day tasks also swept into my schedule and I started to get a little bit overwhelmed with all these things to think about and do!
I found myself frantically prioritising. I needed to do certain things before I could do others, and all the while, I longed for those longer periods of time to just rest and read the word of God uninterrupted. So it was, in this time of making sure everything was up to date in the right time schedule, that God clearly reminded me of His priorities – “Did you learn to love? It’s not about ministry.” I was quite taken aback at first, because I admit that the work of ministry had indeed been pre-occupying my mind. I still spoke to God about things every day, but I neglected some opportunities to better love others and this, God said, was more important. “Prioritise love.” That was His message. If it then took longer for a particular ministry to grow, well God would take care of that – He would grow things in His own time. He wanted me to LOVE first, however long that took. And, after all, love is the foundation of any ministry! I am so glad that my God steps in early to help me in these times; to remind me of His priorities and to renew my heart constantly in His way!
- [Matthew 22:38-39] – “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
- [1 Peter 1:22] – “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…”
- [1 John 4:7] – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
2. Remember the Joy of the Mundane
My husband does a lot of housework. He doesn’t skimp on his time with the Lord, but he also works hard in vacuuming, washing and doing the dishes. His motivation to put the word of God into practice, starting at home. In cleaning the church, he will also ensure his own house is clean. He places value on maintaining a godly testimony in his family life, and in his home, which includes taking responsibility for the mundane everyday tasks. It reminds me of 1 Timothy 3 which speaks about the qualities of a bishop. Verses 4-5 says the overseer should be “…one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)” This verse speaks about the leadership of a man in caring for his own family and in growing up his own children. What happens in the home will manifest in what we do outside – attitudes and values.
Sometimes, there are just so many letters to read and action, emails to reply to, dishes, dusty floors to clean, clothes to fold etc. I would much rather be writing a song to the Lord, or out with someone sharing about Christ. BUT, here God reminded me of something else – there is joy in the mundane! I remember the amazing times I have had with God just driving along in my car, and during chores such as vacuuming or washing dishes. When I’m tired, my focus tends to stray and I sometimes do these chores in a bit of a daze. However, God is present with us even as we do the most menial tasks. In fact, there is a joy in doing them because it is building servanthood, discipline and testimony. I see a lot of life as “training” – I am being trained in the way of the Lord, my character being refined so that I can be more like Him. Paul warns against idleness, something we can fall into when we are weary. He says, in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9, “ For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labour and toll night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.” Paul is not the only example of a person who persevered in the mundane tasks for the glory of God, or who experienced the glory of God even as they did these tasks. Others include Ruth who gathered grain for her mother-in-law, Moses and David, both of whom tended flocks of sheep before they were called to lead Israel, and Gideon who was threshing grain in a winepress when God spoke to Him.
I love the words of Psalm 86:1-5 which speaks of God’s abundant mercy. I want a soul that never ceases to cry out to the Lord day and night, and in every situation. I want that joy of the Lord, to focus on His excellency even while doing the mundane tasks of living. His presence, and His mercy are abundantly provided to us every moment of every day.
“Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!
Be merciful to me, O Lord,
For I cry to You all day long.
Rejoice the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. F
or You, Lord, are good and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.”
3. My Promises will Sustain You
So many Bible passages speak about the unfailing promises of the Lord, but this time, Psalm 119:81-88 particularly captivated my heart.
“My soul faints for Your salvation, But I hope in Your word. My eyes fail from searching Your word, Saying, ‘When will You comfort me?’ For I have become like a wineskin in smoke, Yet I do not forget Your statutes. How many are the days of Your servant? When will you execute judgement on those who persecute me, Which is not accordingly to Your law. All Your commandments are faithful; They persecute me wrongfully; Help me! They almost made an end of me on earth, But I did not forsake Your precepts. Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.”
There are times when, in my weariness, I cry out – “How much longer Lord, until You return?” In this Psalm, David is longing for the relief of God from his enemies, those who are wrongfully persecuting him. He declares the characteristics of God’s judgement, His righteousness and His faithful commandments. He has a resolve to continue in the way of the Lord, despite the persecution around Him. I do not want to be weighed down by weariness. It could be weariness of heart as I am discouraged by the workings of the world or by persecution, weariness of spirit as I find myself in a “desert season” with the Lord, or weariness of body as I become physically worn out. In my weariness, I want to learn from David’s persistent sense of God’s infallibility. Despite everything, he insists on continuing to follow God. He cries out, “Help me!”, but he is not destroyed. Instead, he hopes in God’s word. In the same way, I hope in God’s word, and in His unfailing promises. In my weariness, I will declare – “Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.”
PS. Here is another song, based on Philippians 2:1-11. It is one of my favourite passages and I want to hide it in my heart.