This is part 2 of a series of blogs written by Sarah Dawkins, the first one is here.
In part one we reflected on 6 months of lockdown. I wonder how that made you feel. Maybe just a little helpless? That’s how I feel at the start of a new academic year. I write from a place of weariness at what lies ahead. But here’s a few points that have helped me in recent days:
Remember what you’re called to do: I love getting a new diary for the year ahead and
writing in my plans. As you can imagine most of them have been scribbled out, rearranged and scribbled out again. As I cross out another meeting, I struggle to not feel the frustration. Yet, I am not called to be in meetings. Meetings and conferences are meant to be a tool to serve ministry. Not the be all and end all. If we can’t meet, how can we fulfil our calling in different ways? Often we’re stuck in our routines and don’t think about how else we could achieve the same goal. Now we have to! And whilst we’re at it, what is in our diary that really shouldn’t be. What is not worth the time and energy it costs? What isn’t actually our job but we’ve picked up along the way? If you’re feeling overwhelmed with not being able to do what you’ve been called to, go back to the core of your calling and plan from there.
Hold our plans lightly: How many things have you planned and needed to rearrange this year? I’ve lost count! It’s become second nature when suggesting something to also outline what the back up could look like. But why are we surprised? We’ve never had control over plans have we?! The western world has a great illusion of control, but it was never really ours. For me this has been a challenge as to how much I pray about my plans and whose plan it is that I am truly trusting in. The one carefully outlined in my diary or the one designed by the creator of all?
Consider it all joy: In (yet another) zoom meeting recently I was getting frustrated with
colleagues, to the point that I needed to apologise to them afterwards. During the meeting a friend, also in the meeting sent me a text simply saying “consider it all joy”. After the meeting I looked up the verses in James to find this: 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, [a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4.
Trials of many kinds. I have never noticed that wording before. Many kinds. Not just the
really big ones, but all of them. How refreshing. Scripture expects that we will face trials of many kinds, from cancelling a mission trip, to our internet crashing. They are trials! There are bigger trials of course, but that doesn’t diminish the things we face. My reaction has not been joy. Far from it. And yet, the trials lead to perseverance, leading to maturity and
completeness. Not lacking anything. Wow. What if the next time my laptop refuses to open my emails for an unknown reason, that turned me towards Jesus rather than to anger?
Scripture expects that we will face trials of many kinds, from cancelling a mission trip, to our internet crashing. They are trials! There are bigger trials of course, but that doesn’t diminish the things we face.Tweet
Be kind to ourselves: I received a text recently that said “why is that teaching for three
hours on zoom feels like doing a months worth of work”. I have no idea why but it seems to be true! Whatever our roles in gospel work, we’ve likely needed to adapt to teaching,
leading or hosting things online. And it is exhausting. And that’s ok. It’s not a sign that we are in the wrong job. Its not a sign that we aren’t good enough. It’s a sign that we’re human. That we can’t do everything. That in this season maybe we need to say no to more things, trusting that none of it relies solely on our shoulders. That we have joined in with the Lord’s mission and he will finish the good works that he has begun. That’s freeing. It frees us to say no. It frees us to spend time away from screens and devices. Free to not always be “on call”. Free to take time off. The future of the Kingdom of God is not on your shoulders. He’s your Father. He cares about you. He wants to spend time with you. Be kind to yourself, and if in doubt, think what you’d advise someone you supervise to do in the same situation! Chances are you’d be a lot kinder to them that you would yourself!
Know who holds the future: We may not know what this month will hold. But we never
have really! We just had routines and diary regulars. They have gone, it does make me feel unsure, but we know the one who does know the future. There’s a hymn written in the
1970s which used to be sung regularly at a church I used to work at. It’s not one I ever
particularly liked, but in recent weeks I’ve been aware of it buzzing in my head. The chorus
goes like this:
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because He lives”.
What truth. We don’t know if and when life will be anything like we left behind in 2019. But we do know who holds the future. Jesus lives, so there’s hope for tomorrow. Jesus lives, so all fear is gone. Jesus holds the future and so life is worth living because he lives.
So this September, let’s take our fear, exhaustion, weariness and however else you’re feeling to the one who lives. To the one who makes life worth living. In whom we can find joy whatever is before us, because He lives and is with us.Tweet
Sarah currently works as the Regional Development Director for Friends International in the South West. She’s worked in ministry roles since graduating despite applying for many secular roles!