Psalm 63 - Sometimes Ministry is a Mess, We Need to Rest
One Sunday morning, as I was leading the pastoral prayer in worship, I found myself lost in the moment. I always try to be intentional about the fact that this is a prayer and not a place to sneak in a teaching moment or a way to Jesus-up my own agenda.
And so, as I was kneeling in front of the congregation with my head bowed, I found myself pouring out my honest prayers to God and, for just a few moments, forgetting that there were other people listening to me.
I was in a season of deep sorrow and struggle.
It was just a couple of months after my parents and many of my friends and family had suffered major damage and loss from Hurricane Harvey. My sister had been diagnosed with a chronic illness. And I had just suffered a miscarriage.
I was on my knees offering prayers of petition to God, lost in the words “God pour out your peace on us. Pour out your healing.”
I can’t say I’ve ever really been in a literal dry and weary land where there is no water like the psalmist writes about in Psalm 63, but there have definitely been moments in my life, especially in the midst of a difficult season, where I have felt totally drained and dry.
I’m sure you’ve had that season too; maybe right now.
There have been moments of sheer exhaustion where all I wanted was the ability to take a nap or get another cup of coffee or just quit. Or moments when I just needed to shut my office door and tell everyone “I have nothing left to give you. Go somewhere else.”
As people who take seriously the call to love God and love others, we often empty ourselves out by constantly pouring into others. We say, “yes, yes, yes” to helping or organizing or doing someone a favor.
We teach Bible studies, make time for coffees with people who need to talk to someone, and volunteer to help out with that special program.
I felt that way that Sunday and, even as I did my best to faithfully pastor, I knew I was operating from a dry well. I had nothing left to give and yet I kept trying to give something. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Just keep going. Just keep digging deeper within ourselves. Push, push, push. As if I would find the strength in myself if I just didn’t stop.
And then from my mouth came words I didn’t intend to say and can’t take credit for: “God you are always faithful and we are always grateful.” I didn’t mean to say it. I certainly didn’t mean to rhyme. But it came from the deepest part of my soul, the driest and weariest part of me. I believe the Spirit spoke for me, because I had no words left of my own, to remind me that even (especially) in a dry and weary land it was God who would provide rest and restoration.
I had believed the lie that it was my job to get filled up so, whatever I was struggling with, I had better figure out how to deal with it. I had believed the lie that work would set me free. I had believed the lie that it was what I did that would bring healing. Of course, I would never have said any of that out loud. I would have dressed all that up with all the right cliché phrases about prayer and trusting in God. But my every action showed that I was living the lie.
I kept pushing instead of remembering that God is always faithful. I needed to remember that I was invited to rest and be filled by God’s faithfulness, not because I had earned it but because God had given it to me as a gift.
Beloved, you were not made to simply keep wandering in a dry and weary land pushing yourself to the brink of absolute dehydration. Instead, you have been invited to drink deeply from the never ending well of the steadfast love of God, which is better than life.
Your job is not to just keep doing, being, and exhausting yourself in an attempt to get yourself to God. God is as near to you as the air in your lungs. So, take a deep breath and remember that it is God that satisfies your soul as with a rich feast.
Instead of touting cliché phrases that we read on bumper stickers and fridge magnets, remind yourself that God is always faithful and fill your mouth with praises for God’s continued presence in your life.
There has never been a day in your life where God was not faithful or where God was not at work for your good.
Even if it didn’t feel that way.
There has never been a day when you weren’t loved entirely by the Creator of the Universe. You didn’t earn it. You can’t earn it. But you can bask in it and be satisfied by it.
Be filled up today by the truth that you are seen, known, and loved by God. Be filled up today knowing that God is always good, always faithful, and always present to you. Today, rest in that knowledge. God is always faithful and so we are always grateful, even and especially in a dry and weary land. Thanks be to God.
Robbie Seay Band featuring Lindsey Kidd has a beautiful rendition of this psalm that might just do your soul some good today. You can find it here.
Rev. Becca Newcomb is an Associate Pastor at Longview First United Methodist Church. If you are ever in Longview, Becca and the rest of the congregation would love to have you come worship with them.
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