Good afternoon church family!
I hope this post finds you doing well. As I write this, I am reminded of one of the questions John Wesley would have the early Methodists ask each other in their class meetings, “how is it with your soul?” I think that is an important question to ask, and one I want to ask you to ponder now: how is it with your soul? Today, we might ask it this way: how are you doing? No, really, how are you doing? Far too often, I get caught up in using that as a greeting, or just responding with a pleasantry (can’t complain, if I was any better I’d be twins, or the dreaded “fine”). In this season we are in, we need to take time to really sit with that question. There are a lot of extra stresses right now. Concern over the coronavirus and its spread. Concern over our jobs, whether we’ve been working a little or too much. Vacation and family times that normally would give us rest have been put off. Many of our routines are still jumbled. We are engaging with what’s going on in our country, having new conversations about race and love of neighbor. It is easy to retreat into our devices for some relief.
It is in the middle of all of this, I want to emphasize the need for self-care; physical, mental, and spiritual. As we seek to do our best to love God and neighbor, we have to take care of ourselves. If we burn ourselves out, we can lose the compassion we need to have to be Christ’s representatives in the world. With that in mind, I turn to the example of Jesus in Luke 5:12-16,
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Jesus had much to do while he was on earth. As his ministry progressed, more and more people came to him. As that happened, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” What a powerful example for us today. We as people, even though we are wired for connection, are not meant to be plugged in 24/7. We need a break. We need rest. We need a Sabbath. I encourage you during this season to make sure you are finding different ways to unplug and engage in restorative practices, sabbath practices. Finding time to turn off the phone and the tv for study, prayer, and meditation. Taking time to go for a walk or a jog outside and marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. Take a day or weekend and give yourself a break from email and social media. It is those times of rest where God's presence can restore us for the work we are called to do. We are in this for the long haul friends, we are here to be God’s hands and feet. Let us make sure we are taking care of ourselves and so that we can be doing this work as long as we can.