Originally published Wednesday, 12 August 2015.
It was one of those days... but it felt like there’d been too many of those days back to back. I felt like I’d never get my head above water long enough to be of any real use to the Lord. A string of illness kept me out of commission and in need of my hubby’s help longer than I wished. And when I wasn’t sick, it seemed like something else would pop up, demanding attention; like sleepless nights with a little one, or rescheduling life for car/house repair work. It felt like there was just too many holes draining away the energy I had been accustomed to putting to good use serving my family and church. I’d never missed so many Sundays at church - and I’m a pastor’s wife!
I sat down with my Bible while our little man rested. And read, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” 1 Timothy 5:23 NASB. Usually this verse is glossed over when someone is teaching because alcohol can be such a sticky topic; especially leaders drinking it! But this often over-looked verse leapt from the page with much needed encouragement for me that day. Timothy, a faithful servant of the Lord, had frequent ailments! Being sick doesn't mean we are disqualified for service! When I had sat down to read the Bible, I lifted to the Lord my discouragement over how pitifully I was tending my church ministry. I was resolving to let it go. It wasn’t fair to the ministry because I just couldn’t do enough for it right now. I didn’t have peace about stepping down, but hated my “performance” level.
When I read those words from Paul to his beloved Timothy, the Lord brought to my mind how Paul didn’t have the slightest critique to Timothy for his illness even though it must have effected his ministry. Paul considered Timothy very faithful to the work of service. And I think Paul’s words echo the Lord’s heart for Timothy too. No scolding. No nit-picking. No disappointment. Just encouragement, love, and concern. Paul knew Timothy’s heart and no matter how “frequent” his ailments, his passion for service shone through. It wasn’t about check-lists, or goals to be met; it was just about heart and faithfulness.
It is so easy for us to project our own critical attitudes and disappointment with ourselves onto our Father in heaven. We can be awfully hard on ourselves--often expecting a standard of perfection that even our perfect God doesn’t expect. We can look ourselves over in the mirror and just see the extra pounds. What we say to ourselves in that moment is probably quite different from the Lord’s words:
You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem in the hand of your God. Isaiah 62:3 NASB
When we dash out the door, late for an appointment, but glancing over the mess we left in the kitchen, our own frustration at our lack of organization or “with-it-ness” isn’t what the Lord echoes over us. He says:
But you will be called, “My delight is in her..” Isaiah 62:4 NASB
He calls you His Delight! Not His Mess!
Whether or not you are raking yourself over the coals today because life seems to have drained away your very best intentions, may you hear the Lord’s love over you and receive it deep down in your soul. And if you, like me, have been living in a season where you feel less able to give than you wish you were, I’m praying that you would feel the Lord’s encouragement over whatever ails you and that you would find rest in His perfect love.