Both posts started out with pretty much the same opening paragraph....
I usually take a bit of a break from volunteering over the summer because I'm pretty busy over the course of the school year. However this summer, our church was needing some help with music (people going on vacation, etc.) and I felt God telling me to help since we had no major vacation plans. Bible verses like 'Don't be weary in well doing...' Gal. 6:9, 'Cast your bread upon the waters...' Eccl 11:1, and the idea of 'scattering seed' Matt. 23 kept bouncing around in my head. I agreed to help, and ended up being busy almost all summer - either playing or leading. I don't take these commitments lightly - there's practice and preparation involved before each week. For the most part, I enjoy doing it. After everything is over on Sunday afternoon, I'm wiped. I think I'm getting older.
...and here the posts diverged....
Considering my 'tiredness' further, there's more to it than my advancing age as I'm not that old. Two years ago I started working at a 'Start-Up' (new IT company). They paid quite a bit less than I was used to getting remunerated as an IT contractor, so to supplement my income I used the majority of my vacation time to teach courses at SAIT. As a result, I haven't had a significant vacation/break in a while, and I think I'm feeling it.
|Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash|
I've also discovered that I am more susceptible to getting depressed when I'm tired. When Friday has rolled around lately, I'm not much good for anything except an argument... and that's no good. And then towards the evenings on days when I'm quite tired my thoughts tend to head in a negative direction that cause me to pause when I reflect on them later. Thoughts like....
"God, look at the things I've done for You! Remember how I gave all of my life in the prime of my life for You? And there's a potential that all my 'good works' will burn up in Your refiner's fire? What am I doing this for, then? How do I know I'm not wasting myself for nothing...."
Doing or Being? This is definitely a challenge I've wrestled with for a long time. The Bible has scriptures like the ones above that encourage us to 'DO.' They seem to connotate several things:
- You're actually doing something in each case. Works - 'Well doing'.... 'throwing bread'.... and 'casting seeds.'
- Time is involved. Something easily forgotten in this context. Time you could have been spending with family, or on vacation, or educating yourself further with your job, or just resting.
- Hope is involved. The sower isn't guaranteed that every seed will grow into a harvest. Casting your bread on the waters doesn't guarantee a fish or a duck supper.
- Even more than hope, faith must involved. I tend to get caught up in the task itself, comparing my work with others, and forget to apply faith. As soon as faith leaves the picture, I get into that tizzy of thoughts above because throwing resources away doesn't make any rational sense.
"For as long, then, as the promise of resting in Him pulls us on to God's goal for us, we need to be careful that we're not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn't do them a bit of good because they did didn't received them with faith. If we believe, though, we'll experience that state of resting. But not if we don't have faith..."
The question for me then becomes: How to grow and maintain faith so when I actually 'do' things, my attitudes and thoughts don't go down the drain?
I can think of several ways:
- Remembering that its not religion, but relationship. Its not about doing things to get ahead or get in 'right standing' with God. There's nothing I can DO to help that - He's done it all. When I understand His heart for me and for the people around me, and I do things for Him from that position and context, He can work in me and through me - faith automatically becomes infused in what I do.
- Reading the Bible and meditating on it. The Bible says "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" Romans 10:17. I need to watch what I feed my mind with. Its like eating and the old adage - you are what you eat. In this case though, its what I choose to feed my mind and my spirit with. Proverbs 15:14 says "A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while a fool feeds on trash."
- Remembering what God has done for me. When I remember that God has done things for me in the past - how He's moved in my life - I believe it keeps my faith alive and growing. This was an important exercise for the people in the bible. I'm trying to do that here.
- I have to trust God. Hebrews 12:2 says He's the 'author and perfecter of our faith.' Its not the amount of faith I have that matters, its Who my faith is in and what He can do. That's a comforting thought.