Thursday, June 9, 2011

About taking a break from ministry...

I'm finding out that is impossible. I came home from Fort Wayne for a couple weeks, and people have been asking me the whole time if I am enjoying my break. "Break? What break? Is that what we call this?" Don't get me wrong, I have really enjoyed sleeping more, and getting puppy kisses from my Beau, and eating mom's home cookin', and visiting with a few special people, and enjoying the hot southern nights. These things are precious to me, and make my heart break with love whenever I am here.

But there are two things that make this feel like it is not a break...

First, I can't turn off my thoughts about ministry in Fort Wayne. This whole time I've been home, I've been making notes and reading books and looking through pictures and planning lessons and writing emails. I wake up in the night with brainstorms about what we can do to strengthen our teams and expand the programs. Stories that other people tell me remind me of my own stories of my international friends, and I make a mental note of every game we play or dessert we eat that could be fun to do with the youth. A part of my heart is very much there in Indiana, no matter where else I go.

Second, I jump back into the ministries I had when I lived in NC. These are people I have known for a long time, some of them I have known their whole lives! I used to lead and teach the youth group at my home church, and I still love those kids like they are my own children, even though the youngest class I had is graduating high school this year. I care a lot about where they are in their walk with the Lord and how he is leading them and how their lives and relationships reflect their commitment to Him... and when I'm home I want to check in with each of them intentionally. Then there are my friends who are going through some tough crossroads in their lives right now, and we've been through so much together in the past that I want to (and feel the need to) use our brief time together to listen and pray and offer help and counsel if I can. When I go back to Indiana, I will feel sad, even a bit guilty, for leaving all of this behind, wondering if it's really ok for me to love people somewhere else, when I already love so many people here... questioning whether it's right to serve in a different corner of the world, when I see the needs I can help with right here. Old stomping grounds have become not just places of nostalgia, but memorials to times in my life where God has taught me and changed me, where he brought people into my life who I needed and who needed me in different seasons. No matter where else I go, a part of my heart is very much here in North Carolina.

I don't think we're ever meant to truly take a break from ministry... when did God say to stop caring about people, sharing his love with people, thinking of ways to infuse his joy into others' lives? True, we all need to rest, but I don't think "to rest" means to stop living for Him. Wherever I go, whether it is called "work," "missions," "vacation," "furlough," or "sabbatical," there will always be people who need to experience the love of Jesus. As Joni Eareckson Tada says, "Shake salt, shine light, travel to the uttermost parts of the world!" Until Jesus returns to take his family home, we have work to do - let Him find us faithful, busy serving for his glory.

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