Mark 6:30-31 “The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.”
After this past year, when people ask me what the hardest thing about church planting is, I almost always respond with how physically exhausting it is. On a scale from 0 to 10 (with 10 being high energy), here is how I rate things.
10: Childhood Energy: This is waking up every morning as though your pajamas are on fire… “CAN. NOT. STAY. IN. BED. ONE. MORE. SECOND!!!” 9: Vacation Energy: This is that energy you get from no responsibilities, no worries and no distractions. It’s that ocean breeze energy that just relaxes you. You go to bed relaxed and wake up relaxed. Ahhhhhhhh………. 8: Disciplined Energy: This does not matter what age I am, but if I am exercising, eating right and going to bed by 10 p.m., I have no problem with my energy level. I am awake before my alarm goes off, and sleepy by 9:30. Life is good. 7: High School Energy: I could wake up to an alarm with no problem… no snooze needed… but could also sleep in every single Saturday until 11 a.m. (or until my mother hollered downstairs, “Megan! It’s 11 a.m.!! You have chores to do today!!”) 6: Lock-In Energy: How I survived several lock-ins in my high-school career, I’ll never know. But the next day, my entire body seemed to be shaking, oh so slightly. I didn’t seem to be able to drink enough water or eat enough food to contain it… and yet, just a quick nap in the afternoon is all I needed to get my energy back. 5: College Energy: Somehow, you can pull all-nighters and write an amazing 20-page research paper (for which you receive an A) and all you need is a short 45 min nap and normal bedtime that night to “catch up on your sleep.” 4: Established Ministry Energy: When in ministry, you are always on call (even on your days off) if you do not establish boundaries. You also are working with human beings (and we are all imperfect.) At times, you are put on a pedestal… and other times, you are critiqued for your every move. For some reason, at this time in my life, I began hitting the snooze button. Pretty much every day, except Sunday. 3: Overseas Mission Trip Energy: I seem to drag myself out of bed only with the aide of two cups of coffee and an amazing adrenaline rush that courses through my veins the entire day. “Mission work is AWESOME!!!” I do, however, crash immediately at sundown, and sleep like a rock until morning again. And forget about when I return home… let’s just say I sleep for several days to recover. 2: After Baby Energy: There is nothing else quite like this. I function more like a zombie, shuffling around with no shower, but making sure every single one of my baby’s needs are taken care of… with neglect to myself. My baby’s screaming and sometimes the occasional knock on the door by the mailman is the only thing that seems to jolt me awake. 1: Church Planting Energy: Not only am I mentally and physically exhausted (try painting, cleaning and setting up a building with only a month before launch), I am also dealing with strange things that don’t occur in an established ministry. In example: “Wait- did someone get communion bread?” “If something fails— just blame the planter…” and “Why is the electricity off? We have service in 20 minutes!” 0: Is this death? Or near death? Not sure…
Planting has broadened my understanding of God in so many ways. Maybe its because when we first said “yes” we were young and naïve and God was giggling because He knew how hard it was going to be. Maybe it’s because we put ourselves out there to solely rely on God’s opinion and His Will for us in the church plant. HOWEVER…
He is good.
He is with us.
He is going ahead of us, making the way for us.
He is faithful.
He is who He says He is.
He provides rest… you just need to accept it.
Recently, Nexus, our wonderful church planting network, sent all of its church planters to a four-day retreat in the Smoky Mountains (thanks to an anonymous donor). Now, this was a retreat… as in… no schedule (except for scheduled breakfast and dinner) and no responsibilities. We were free to just enjoy our families and each other’s company. (I’m actually excited to say that I didn’t even take my laptop on the trip… and I barely answered my phone. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!)
The only catch? We just had to get there. Michael and I decided almost immediately, that we would get there… although we weren’t sure how we could financially. So, we gave that worry to God.
And, of course, He came through. The Arkansas Church Planting Network called and told us that they would pay for our gas to get out there.
Amazing. God is so, so good.
We just had to take Him up on his offer of rest. And He provided all our needs.
This is something that I never learned from school… or even from bible college. We need to rest from ministry. We need to rest from life! We were created to rest… and if we don’t? We will crash and burn. (I’m talking from my own experience here.)
Be waiting: He will provide opportunity for rest. So, don’t grab another cup of coffee and miss it.
Life can be hard. Make sure to rest.