We’ve all had them – days, weeks, maybe much longer – when fresh snowfalls of unanticipated events keep falling into the hours of our routines and responsibilities, falling and falling, filling up every available and unavailable space, stretching us to the limit.
Some of these times can be exhilarating.
At those points, we are fueled with fascination regarding all that is happening. We make a ruling that the nuances of developing relationships are of greater importance than maintaining pragmatic time management choices and so we receive these meandering yet meaningful intrusions as invigorating. Teachable moments, as they arrive, are welcome tools to train and treat others with the dignity and respect of drawing them into the treasures of the word and acquiring leadership skills themselves. New responsibilities infuse us with renewed interest to be life long learners ourselves.
Words like ‘exciting’ define our response to the extras, and the challenge of juggling a variety of ventures and valuable interactions stimulate us in body, mind and spirit. The unexpected snowfalls are seen as beautiful gifts dancing in the sunlight of opportunities to serve and savour the movements of the Spirit all about us.
At these points, we may feel a bit like the disciples sent out to experience the unplanned nature of itinerant ministry as they traveled about the countryside exercising the kingdom principles of Jesus’ teaching and healing ministry. They were filled with joy and wonder at the mounting stories of growing faith. They were instilled with a faithful application of what they had learned at Jesus’ feet featuring a deep reliance on prayerful discernment and deliberate self reminders that it is God at work in the midst of the busyness – they were but branches connected to him, instruments through which his ministry could occur.
But some of these persistent snowfall events can be destabilizing to our sense of equilibrium as we bend lower and lower under the density of details, duties, and sometimes debilitating dramas and traumas within our spheres of service and self-giving.
When flurries continue and the winds of intensity pick up with the heavy wet snow of ‘too much’, that inner place of deep communion with Christ may suffer. We can become sufficiently buried in positions of having to move forward while carrying an accumulation of pressures as to lose sight of him. Our vision of the spiritual resources required to sustain the growing weight is obscured in the curious thought that we have no time to be alone with him to let him bear the load.
In our desire as servant leaders to bless and be a blessing, it is possible for us to give way to false constructs of inherent strength rather than rely solely on his loving all sufficiency working through us. We may assume the dangerous delusion that we are holding up because we have somehow held out our very best. In the mounting moments of additional demands falling upon us, we may be mesmerized into thinking that our supple green resilience rests in our own respectable skills, or reasonable knowledge, or relational sensitivity, or relatively strong stamina.
The groaning cracks of disconnection to the true source of ministry begins.
The imbalance of too much time washing the feet of others and not enough time letting Christ wash ours with a humility of heart which ever recognizes our weakness apart from him slowly tears us from the life giving trunk and truncates our ability to function effectively for his glory.
With one too many snowflakes, we may come to the end of ourselves and slip to the ground, sometimes without a sound, sometimes with a pounding crash.
‘Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youth shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40: 29-31)
When we are firmly attached to the tree which gives us life, drawing light from the sky above and sustaining sap from below, we are enabled to celebrate the work of the Spirit changing the landscape of our days with both the expected flow shown on the calendar and with the unexpected snow of surprises blown in by either benign blunders or thunderous signs of serious problems … because he is our strength.
He holds the weight. We can wait indefinitely for a lighter load because we are aware that he is forming the perfect balance in our schedules by sending gusts of grace to reorganize our priorities and make us available to his heightened sense of urgency, urging us to display the beauty of his power supplying every need as needed and letting the rest slip away with movements of his merciful provision.
Precious weary one, he invites us to step back from the race of appearances and let the appearing of his gentle yoke bear us up in his kindness and compassion to be strengthened in the arms of one who is unwilling to break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick. (Isaiah 42:3)
Let him lift you up again … grafted into grace which perfects his strength in our weakness.
‘Loving God, strong to save us in our times of ‘too much’, help us slip out from underneath anything that is not of you and discover the supportive grace to support only that which falls from your perfect purposes in our lives. Lift us up to see things from your heavenly perspective and so to serve from the position of always pointing others towards seeing you, only you, as the source of all enduring strength. Amen.’