8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. (2 Corinthians 7:8-9a New Living Translation)
I really should have known better; I really should. Well, you reap what you sow, so I’ve heard. On Friday I will turn 61 and one would think that I would have learned a few things by now. Alas, it seems like I have not been paying attention. Oh, excuse me, some of you are not following my train of thought here. As I focus on the attitudes and spirits that creates the dread of Monday Morning that can control our entire week, I wrote about routine last Monday. Well, this past week has been anything BUT routine. Well, as I often say, “No good deed goes unpunished.”
This past week has been everything but routine. I am blessed to be surrounded by a great staff, the best around. Bill, our visitation pastor, wanted to take a month off to take a trip out west with his brother to visit family. Bill is a retired pastor but continues to make himself available and useful for the Kingdom. His mission with the home-bound and nursing home members is great and it allows me more time to focus on my primary tasks. He informed me that he had someone who would be making his “rounds” for him so I gave him my blessings and told him to enjoy this special time. He left Monday morning and my routine changed.
There were two in the ICU that I felt needed my attention. So after a few moments in the office I head out to the local hospital. I return to the office to begin my normal routine of planning Kingdom work and another sermon when my phone rang. Katie told me, “Carlos is gone. The paramedics are still here.” It took a good minute for this to process in my feeble mind because I had just talked with Carlos at church the day before. I counted him as a good friend and loved his spirit because he possessed that rare virtue of being able to agreeably disagree with someone. Katie wanted me to do the funeral.
Then another member was hospitalized and had surgery. Flo is a constant encourager in my life and has a wonderful sense of humor shaped by 93 years of living. Then another member, Vicky, called to say her Dad passed away. Vicky asked me to do his funeral. On Thursday, I received a request for another report for our upcoming Annual Conference. A funeral on Thursday and another on Saturday, daily visits to the ICU, sermon preparation, Kingdom work, and Saturday morning I had a Team meeting for an upcoming Walk to Emmaus. It being the last one before the Walk and, I being the Weekend Spiritual Director, had to prepare a message for the worship time and Team Commissioning Service. Then I had to preview the talk I was doing on that Walk, quickly leave and drive back about an hour and a half to be at the local funeral home for my second funeral of the week.
To be quite honest I was feeling overwhelmed. No, I wasn’t in danger of losing my life like Paul was, but still, I was feeling overwhelmed by all that was demanding my attention. And that, my friends, can be a dangerous and disabling place to be. What goes on in your life? If you have kids and they are involved in anything outside normal school, your schedule can be overwhelming. Last night I was talking with one from my personal Band of Brothers, Sammy, and he was talking about his 2 children being involved in the local youth ball league. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday’s would be spent at the ball fields, Wednesday nights at church–busy weeks ahead for this family and others like them.
Feeling overwhelmed can contribute to the Monday Morning Spirit by causing us to feel drained and tired–and this is just from thinking about all that demands our attention. And this morning it hit me. I had been thinking just like those Hebrews were thinking as they were on the edge of The Promised Land. They were overwhelmed and wanted to go back to the routine of being slaves. Now these people had seen God’s power–the Plagues, parting the Red Sea, manna and quail delivered from the hand of God, water from a rock, and that Column of Clouds leading them in the daytime and that Column of Fire guiding them at night. It wasn’t what they were doing that was so overwhelming, but what they were facing. So I got in line for my 39 lashes with a wet noodle for being just like them.
Overwhelmed doesn’t come from all the stuff we are actually doing. Overwhelmed is the feeling that comes from thinking about the tasks, duties and responsibilities that lie in front of us and experiencing memory loss: forgetting the One who has always with us doing mighty things out of His grace and love for us. God has always been faithfully revealing both His power and His love for us. And HE who has seen us through to this point, will see us through all the other things in front of us. Listen to the rest of Paul’s thoughts in Verse 9:
But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
Ouch! (That’s what preachers say when God stomps on their toes!) Feeling a bit overwhelmed about this week? I understand that it is easy to be overwhelmed because life is like that, especially when our Enemy wants us to go back to the routine of slavery. Overwhelmed is the result of relying on ourselves. Instead, let’s learn this week to rely on God, who has this special and unique ability of raising the dead. If He can do that, and He has and continues to do so, then don’t you think He can handle whatever it is in front of you? Of course He can; He reminded me of this, so I am reminding you.
When we stop relying on ourselves and rely on God who raises the dead, then we can say, “Good! Lord it’s Monday! What shall we do together?” Let’s pray:
Oh Lord, forgive me for my memory loss. Right now help me remember all those times that you parted seas, provided manna, water from the rocks, and your faithful guidance day and night. I give up this week to you. I refuse to rely on myself and choose to rely on YOU! Raise up this dead one to the life that only you can provide. And when I have another memory loss, remind me, “Hey, child, I’ve got this!” Amen and Amen!