- - the joy of the Lord will make you strong." Nehemiah 8:10b
Each week we press on in the summer, the exhaustion mounts. 6 weeks of hard labor getting the lakefront ready for work groups, shoveling, nailing, moving earth, pouring concrete. Immediately into camps 1 and 2 with only one day off between. Then a week off with 38 youth and workers on the grounds , in our house, and working hard. Then back at camp, we had a day off yesterday afternoon and this morning we began to get ready and counselors and workers here again, on Saturday, we finally can stop for while as Karol, the kids and I head off to our cabin for a week of rest!
I don't tell you this to elicit pity or praise. I tell you this as a back drop to understand what I am going to say. God has changed me, moved me, grown me, and stretched more in the last 11 weeks than he has in the previous 41 weeks since this time last year. Each summer God has done the same in my life, each time I focus on Him, His work, His word, and His direction, He changes my heart. The rest of the year change happens but much less dramatically. Why is that? Is it me, am I different in those times? Does it depend on what I am doing? Am I so tired that cannot resist? I think all of those things are part of it. but I believe the reason more than any is that I am becoming weaker as the days pass by. My defense or my flesh is down, My mind is a bit slower, and my spirit is as open as ever to God's leading, my heart is connected directly to those we are ministering with and to. I know the Bible says that when we are weak He is strong, but rarely do I find myself in the place of real weakness.
I remember when Dan was so weak and sick in his last weeks of life. God shown through him in way we never saw before. As he became weaker and weaker, God's power was more evident in him. Lives where changed in those last weeks, mine included. Jesus, in the weakest position possible as a human; stripped, hanging on the cross, beaten and bloody, changed everything for humankind.
I am told so often from well meaning friends to slow down, pace myself, and don't burn out. I have written before that I want to burn out for Jesus, because I do have faith He will restore my strength. As I empty some of the me, He can fill with some of Him. I am not saying that one should be busy for Jesus, I am saying we should be in His will, doing His work, as hard as we can, as long as we can, as much as we can. That means in every phase of our lives; family, ministry, work, play, rest, whatever. He must be the center in all of those things, one is not separate from the other, it is all Gods work. I know He will work in us, changing us, loving us, helping us, so we can help others change, love, and work for Him. So I write this exhausted, hurting, my heart bleeding, my mind spinning, yet I am filled with joy; joy that God has filled me up with!