February 27, 2017 | JOHN RAY
It’s an honor to walk through these weeks and months with each of y’all.
I mentioned the encounter I recently had with a young woman in Costa Rica. I could see the utter exhaustion in her eyes. The kind of tired that is so bone-deep, so overwhelming, that it scares you, tempts you to think dark and desperate thoughts.
She is a friend of ours from way back. We met when she was young, single and passionately fulfilling her calling as a missionary and leader. But her pregnancy involved constant morning sickness, a daily routine of losing her cookies multiple times. Her labor wasn’t any easier, a couple of days of intensity. So by the time her daughter arrived, she was already depleted.
Mind you, all this happened in a foreign country where she worked as a missionary. And the travel, the work, barely paused for any of it, only adding to the exhaustion I encountered.
But more than the physical toll, it was a slow, almost imperceptible loss of vision that hung over her like a cloud. Her vision of herself as a leader, as connected and supported by God, as a missionary, had slowly been eroded by the trauma of her pregnancy and constant demands of life abroad. Now, don’t get me wrong: She definitely needed rest, but she also desperately needed to catch a fresh glimpse of the vision that first compelled her to leave the US to be a missionary abroad, a renewed evaluation of the strength of her calling.
She needed to encounter herself as she was defined by Jesus, not by her exhaustion. All of us do. It may not be as traumatic or as sudden, but each of us have the voice of the Holy Spirit dulled by the demands of the day. It is overtaken by the demands of our culture, the enemy and our own fleshly limitations. Our calling, which once was so clear, becomes clouded by the constant conflicts and competitions all around us. We desperately need a fresh vision, a renewed calling.
We need to see Jesus.
I think that is the invitation of Lent: to give up other things so we can regain our vision of Jesus, and as a result, see ourselves in a radically different way.
This is not easy work, friends, but it is different work from what we are used to. The work of letting go, of receiving things as a gift, of abiding instead of striving doesn’t come naturally. We need Lent to help teach us the Jesus Way.
If you haven’t yet ordered the book suggested by Darrel, now’s the time.
You can order here and start reading online until it arrives.
In the meantime, watch the following:
And maybe give this a listen (it’s Seminary Dropout #144: Ann Voskamp)
If you didn’t get a chance to review your notes and journals and make a list of six words or phrases (each one no longer than 8 words), you have one more week to get that done. See last week’s post if you need more details.
Grace and peace, y’all,
Prayer for the week:
Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to you and be healed.