I sighed and buried my face in my arms. I was two days into our time off but work emails kept coming in, all needing something, all requesting attention, all of them worthy of my time and effort. After a long and hard four months of touring, my husband and I had decided to take a week and a half off to steal away and rest— but that didn’t stop the need from pouring in.
Almost like muscle memory I started typing up responses, creating spreadsheets, editing content and then I stopped. This, this panicky, over-worked, stressed response, this wasn’t rest. And it definitely wasn’t faith.
When we launched As Family We Go a few months ago, it felt like how I imagine being a parent for the first time feels: exhilarating, overwhelming, outrageously joyful, exhausting, eye-opening, awe-inspiring and unsure of how things will turn out.
To be honest, we’re still figuring out where God is taking the community of leaders. But we know we’re meant to keep taking one tiny step at a time.
So taking a break, some time to rest right in the middle of the momentum, felt like a betrayal of all the work our As Family We Go leaders have put into building this community.
But then the voice came. I was mid sentence in an email and I heard Him ask: why don’t you trust me?
I stopped and stared at my phone.
If I really believe that God is in this thing that we’re doing (I believe He is!) then I wouldn’t be scared to rest. If I believe God is orchestrating this, then I can rest knowing we put our best foot forward and the rest is in His hands.
So often, especially in ministry, we struggle to really let go and rest. I think if we’re honest there’s a little part of us that believes we have some sort of power to rescue and save others. Otherwise why would we be afraid of stopping, closing our eyes, and resting from our work?
It’s especially hard when the need feels overwhelmingly great. Ministry is full-time because people, brokenness and lives are full-time. Marriages keep breaking, babies need homes, someone needs a ride, someone else needs a meal, there needs to be a shoulder to cry on, someone to comfort, someone to show them they aren’t alone and forgotten.
In the midst of everything, it feels wrong to curl up, turn off your phone, and read a book, or sleep, or go for a run, or sleep some more. It feels selfish, overindulgent.
Besides, won’t God provide the strength we need to get through it?
In 2010 the New York Times published an article stating 50 percent of pastors feel unable to meet the demands of their job, and 52 percent have seen the stress of their vocation negatively impact their family and marriage.
You are not Jesus.
You are not God.
I’m beginning to realise rest is the ultimate act of faith. It says: “I’m not in control, God is. I’m not all-powerful, God is. I’m not the answer to the world’s problems, God is. Jesus is the one who saves, therefore I can rest.”
So I have faith that the power and work of our little As Family We Go community doesn’t live and die on my taking a few days off. It even sounds ridiculous to type those words out! No, we rely on Jesus who heals, saves, rescues, restores, cleanses, brings people from death into life.
I don’t know where you are today in your journey. If you’re reading these words and your heart is nodding along, then take this as your permission slip to rest.
If we really believe God uses the weak the humble, then we can embrace our need to take a break and trust the God who causes planets to spin, and water molecules to travel across the earth, and hearts to change will take care of it all.
Ministry isn’t a call on our lives to be saviors, it’s an invitation to a front row seat to watch and participate in God’s redemption of the world.
Fellow leaders, friends, family, if I could go to your house, make you a cup of coffee and sit you down with a good book right now I would. I would tell you that Jesus loves you, and you’re doing a good job, He’s proud of you and loves getting to include you in His story, He wants to hold you while you close your eyes and rest in the knowledge that you are doing enough.
You can be enough because Jesus is more than enough.
So today, on this Sabbath, go and rest.
You don’t need to earn it.