During the summer of 2017, my church is utilizing a system to BLESS our neighborhoods. The acrostic works like this:
- Begin with Prayer
- Listen and Engage
- Eat (because we all connect better while we’re eating)
- Serve Others
- Story (be willing to share your faith story)
Although I like this concept, I am purposely NOT engaging in this system. Not that I disagree with any of it – I’m just pulling back from any kind of service while I recover from ministry exhaustion.
The ironic beauty of this BLESS system is that God Himself is helping me engage with him. He is blessing me.
It’s almost a replay of how God took care of Elijah when he was discouraged and depressed after a massive battle. (If you want to read that story, check out First Kings 19.)
Now, I don’t believe I am anywhere close to being a powerful servant such as Elijah.
I just know God loves me and he’s taking care of me.
Here’s how it works:
Begin with Prayer: At times, I’ve been so depleted, the only prayer words I could speak were “God oh God” or “Jesus, help!” But the sweet truth is that God still heard me. We don’t have to pray a certain way or follow a formula for Abba Father to hear the cries of our hearts.
[Read more about Redefining Prayer]
Listen and Engage: In the quiet of the night when all I hear is the cat’s snores – I sense God near. He is listening to me and for me, and I for him. Sometimes he speaks a verse I’ll look up and journal through. Sometimes it’s just the inner warmth of knowing he’s engaging and connecting with me. I love that. Sometimes it’s whole paragraphs of guidance and truth.
Being listened to = being loved.
Eat: This piece of the acrostic is a bit more eclectic because I’m not talking about real food. Although a healthy recovery does include nutritious eating as in blueberries, dark chocolate, lots of water, repeat.
Emotional and spiritual eating means filling my mind with the words of God and helpful books – fiction and nonfiction. I am inhaling without exhaling, filling up my emotional bucket that has been scraped raw. This type of eating never adds empty calories, but spiritual nutrition flows into every tissue and emotional gap.
Serve Others: It seems impossible to turn off the button of ministering to others. Sometimes I have to catch myself and say, “No! You cannot organize and promote a new ministry, no matter how much it is needed. Stop it!”
I am letting go of all expectations and reveling in how God is serving me.
Now, I know some of you out there in cyberspace are thinking, How selfish! Who does she think she is? What would Jesus do?
I’ll tell you what Jesus would do. He would climb right up in Abba’s lap and tell the Holy Spirit to come and comfort him.
When he walked on this earth, Jesus rowed across the lake and took some down time. He had weekend getaways at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He strolled through a garden and prayed, inhaling the presence of God so he would have strength later to heal and save.
So don’t judge me. I’m telling you Abba is such a personal God he knows when to send me an encouraging word.
He calls me to the deck at just the right time so I can watch a rabbit nurse her bunnies. He commands a flock of geese to fly over me with joyful honks. He whispers to a baby in Wal-Mart who turns around and gives me a single-toothed grin. He plants a book in my hands that helps me understand how ministers become codependent. He tells someone to send me a check so I can pay that climbing electric bill. He heals my son so I don’t have to live in worry.
God knows exactly what I need and when I need to be reminded how much he loves me.
Story: I’ve just shared part of my story with you. It continues to grow and the plot lines interweave. More will be coming in the weeks ahead.
Keep checking in with me to see how God wraps hope around every gift, how he is himself the author of hope.
The guideline God is helping me learn is this: it’s okay to take care of yourself. That means telling others “No” when they ask you to do something. It means setting healthy boundaries. It might even mean getting away from the mess.
So that’s where my story is so far. I’m sticking to it. Be blessed and let God bless you.
©2017 RJ Thesman