This morning when I sat down to do my devotions, I felt overwhelmed. I feel like every time I sit down to write or to blog or anything, I just have this looming sensation of a heavy load. And it’s the most uncomfortable feeling in the world.
But God is good. And I’ll tell you one of the innumerable reasons why.
I read about Silas this morning, definitely partnered with Paul but really just on Silas. I’ve never done much study on Silas, not him specifically, and when I was ready and studying this morning with Shannon Ethridge I was amazed to see just how involved he was. Apparently, he was a prophet (Acts 15:32), an amazing encourager, hand-picked by Paul to minister with him and labor in the gospel with him (Acts 15:40), a minister with Paul to the Corinthians for a year and a half (Acts 18:11, 2 Corinthians 1:19), a writer who was willing to help the apostles (based on the opening verses of the letters to the Thessalonian church) write several letters (including 1 Peter and 1 and 2 Thessalonians) (1 Peter 5:12), suffered all sorts of torture and discomfort and whatnot, traveled all over the place, and proved himself trustworthy through all of this. This guy had a boat load of responsibility, but not once do you read of him being overwhelmed or bogged down by all of the hats he wore.
I didn’t realize the importance of Silas’ testimony until later in the day.
After devotions, I got dressed and headed out into the rain. I smiled with the rain and felt refreshed. Thank You, Jesus, for the rain 🙂 I went and grabbed breakfast, continuing my reading of The Master Plan of Evangelism. It’s so interesting: a lot of churches focus primarily on evangelizing the masses, raking in as many new believers or unbelievers as possible to within the walls of the sanctuary, but when you really look at the gospels, you see that Jesus didn’t actually do that. I mean, yeah, He obviously ministered to the masses and healed their diseases and drove out their demons, but who did He spend the most time with? The twelve disciples. Even further, within the disciples, who did He spend the most time with? Peter, James, and John, the three leaders of the new church built up from the ground after Jesus’ ascension. Wow. That kind of changes things.
Now, don’t misunderstand: ministering to strangers and people outside of your sphere of influence is a good thing, not at all a bad idea, but why would you neglect the people who you interact with on a daily basis and instead reach out to strangers you may or may not see ever again? If you first reach out and minister consistently to those within your sphere of influence, then there’s more of an opportunity for those people to REALLY grow in Christ and be discipled and become soldiers instead of civilians, if you take the time to bring them along side you and love them and take the time for them and minister to them with your life, which is rooted in Christ. But wow.
One thing Dr. Coleman said that made me smile was, in reference to the Twelve,
“By any standard of sophisticated culture then and now they would surely be considered as a rather ragged collection of souls. One might wonder how Jesus could ever use them. They were impulsive, temperamental, easily offended, and had all the prejudices of their environment. In short, these men selected by the Lord to be his assistants represented an average cross section of society in their day. Not the kind of group one would expect to win the world for Christ.”
I can’t count how many times I’ve thought about how unqualified to be and incapable I am of being God’s soldier, His daughter, His girl, a representative of all of His grace and love and mercy. I mean, seriously, I couldn’t even remember how to tie my left shoe today and nearly forgot what I’d eaten for breakfast five minutes after eating it. How could God possibly use me? But then I see, quite plainly, that the disciples were pretty much in the same spot. Jesus used ordinary men to fulfill an extraordinary task, and it didn’t matter that they were “uneducated, common men” (Acts 4:13b). Jesus wasn’t limited by that.
I went through my Travel Writing class and genuinely enjoyed it. I really like learning about other people’s experiences and getting to look in on the traveling through their eyes as well as being able to experiences all of the details of their trips. I don’t agree with everything they do, but the perspectives and the writing is wonderful 🙂
After Travel Writing I went and grabbed sushi for lunch. I was already drained. No energy. I went back to my dorm to try and get some homework done, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. I couldn’t understand why I was so tired. Eventually I gave up and took a nap, getting up in time to go to Studio with Bree.
This class, frustrates the nonsense out of me. Every time I leave, I just feel defeated, like I can’t win. My professor, as I’ve described before, is very pithy and opinionated and I appreciate his audacity in a weird way, but I’m having the most difficult time in being tender and kind. I just want to argue and be right. But that’s not the right thing to do. And not responding to his questions or other things would be rude and disrespectful. I always ask “God, how can I win?” when class is over, and while I understand it’s not so much about winning as it is letting God be a light through me, it certainly feels like an arena.
Maybe I’ll bake him a pie.
After Studio, I headed to check my mail and then went to my dorm to steal another nap. I then woke up and headed to German, still exhausted. German was fun. It’s much more difficult than I thought, taking two languages at once, but it’s a good challenge. It was during German class where I had this thought:
“I’m an idiot. I’ve gone and taken on too many things, signed up for too many classes. I can’t do this. It’s too much. I am completely overwhelmed, spent, with nothing to give even though it’s only a month or so into the semester. I’m going to blow up.”
But then, after German, when I was preparing to go to church, I went back to camp this summer. There had been a point when every single counselor was as sick as a dog, all sorts of fluids draining from our faces and our eyes droopy and our immune systems crying out for zinc, vitamin C, and a nice, long hug. I remember thinking “I have nothing left.” I was spent emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and I didn’t know what to do. But as I thought that way, God was already moving things to provide me with a way out, to give me the things I needed, to be the strength and the love and the motivation that I just didn’t have.
Why on earth would He do anything less now?
Then of course the thought of Silas came to mind, and I decided that if God could give Silas and Paul the endurance to do all of the insane things they did, from being stoned to being imprisoned to everything else, then God would have absolutely no problem coming through for me and giving me strength when I don’t have any left.
I biked to church, braking zealously and even going on the sidewalk and walking my bike when a car moved in or even out of the bike lane. I was a little nervous. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get home (because it’s illegal to ride without a light on the back and front of your bike), but I decided not to worry about it…I’d think of something.
I got to church and instead of going to regular service, I actually helped Maria and Melinda with children’s choir. It was just like camp, and I felt like I was back at BaYouCa. We sang “I Can Only Imagine,” and I was refreshed. It happens to be one of my favorite songs, and even though I was singing it without MercyMe instrumentals, it didn’t matter. Everything was going to be okay.
Church ended, children’s choir ended, Sam and Edward confirmed that it was illegal for me to ride my bike at night without a light, so I resolved to just take it down into the subway. Edward suggested riding it through Prospect Park where the police couldn’t see me, but I was uneasy about doing something illegal. I really wasn’t sure what to do.
Sam very graciously offered to try and fit it in the back of his large vehicle and I consented, realizing I really didn’t have a choice, unless I was going to walk an hour to get home…in the dark…by myself.
He grabbed some rope and tied my bike down to the top of the car. As he tied it down I just felt like stooge-face, because I wanted to be an adult and not need anyone’s help and just do everything by myself and be able to support myself and yada yada yada. Everyone got in. I couldn’t help but feeling like a burden, though Sam and Maria didn’t make me feel that way at all. I just have a hard time asking for help, which God is slowly breaking in me. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s happening.
They dropped me off at Pratt and I left them, forgetting about my pride and just feeling tired. Remembering how incapable the disciples were, how clumsy and impulsive and just plain ridiculous they were, I don’t feel so bad about not feeling up to this whole growing up, life thing. I feel like I should be able to do this on my own, but I just can’t.
Sometimes I think the society we live in sets us up to worry, to collect anxieties, to be overwhelmed, or to do the exact opposite and not care about anything and live recklessly, but not the kind of worry-free living God gives us the ability to have. That’s why it’s so important for Christians to remember that this isn’t our home, and as corny or “whatever-gets-you-through-the-day”ish as that may sound, it’s so true. It makes sense that I feel so out of place, so uncomfortable, because this isn’t my home, this world isn’t where I belong. If home is where the heart is, then I’m a bit out of place.
Regardless of how I feel, regardless of how little I already have left to give, God is more than enough. Also, don’t mistake me for being ignorant of how many people across the world who are probably WAY more overwhelmed than I am, and rightfully so. But just because someone else seems to have more reason to be overwhelmed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the overwhelmingness of my situation is any less real. Is God able to push me through it until it’s no longer overwhelming? Oh yeah, without a doubt. I’m counting on it. After all, “faith is assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen.”
God’s greater…He always has been 🙂
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” —Isaiah 40:29