I have been in this weird place recently. One of those places full of self doubt. I've been doubting the person I am, doubting whether or not I'm doing life right, doubting if I am really the disciple God wants me to be, the wife my husband deserves and the mother my children need. I've been doubting my role in God's Kingdom as a Servant Leader, doubting this path of candidacy, doubting my Church and the effectiveness it has in this world. I've been feeling like I"m simply "going through the motions" of life. Feeling like I'm living from one deadline to the next. The anxiety really started to take over.
So Thursday and Friday I ran away from the responsibilities of house work and church and parish work. Ran away from the To Do List that haunts me because despite the progress I make on the list at the end of the day I am left to feel like I just didn't do enough.
Two days of playing with my kids, enjoying a break from the To Do list, and reconnecting with my husband was just what I needed to get back on track.
Going to bed Friday night I knew that I had to be at the Church to meet my Youth to participate in a yard clean-up service project. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to wake up that early on a Saturday to go do yard work. When I woke up Saturday morning I was hoping to see a downpour out my window. It was cloudy and looked like it could rain at any moment but at the time it wasn't. I told My Sweetie that I must not have prayed hard enough. He told me that there was something else obviously that I needed to do so no rain may in fact have been the answer to my prayer.
He was right. Apparently taking a break to play with my family wasn't all I needed.
As I worked with my group of youth, I was reminded why I love youth ministry. As we pulled weeds and raked yards for people who were unable to do those chores for themselves I was reminded why I love mission work. As we gathered in the evening to assemble the fundraiser letter for our youth mission trip I was reminded of why I love being part of the body of Christ. As I sat in Church today and around the table with my fellow council members, I was reminded of why I love being a United Methodist.
As I reflected on the rest of the weekend I had the same peaceful, refreshing feeling that I had experienced the two days prior when I took a break from everything to spend time with my family.
Our pastor preached Sunday from the gospel of John.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ 25Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. John 10:24-27
(A paraphrase from my sermon notes)
The Jews had a specific expectation of WHO the Messiah was to be. When Jesus didn't "fit" into their ideals of what they wanted, they asked him to "prove" that he truly was the Messiah. Despite all that Jesus had already done, they still didn't believe because he failed to meet their expectations. Jesus basically told them that it wasn't up to him to meet their expectations but rather it was up to THEM to fulfill his expectations because HE. WAS. GOD. Their Messiah was right in front of them but they did not recognize him so they were the ones missing out on the freedom they were hoping the Messiah would bring to their lives. Jesus said that if they truly wanted the freedom that they were seeking then they needed to follow his lead, they needed to meet his expectations, they needed to do the works of mercy and then they would find true freedom.
This really hit me in between the eyes today. I was looking for reprieve these past few weeks. I was tired. The To Do list was not getting any shorter. The only way for me to get the break I was craving was to take it!!! No one was going to give it to me!
The only way for me to find my way out of the self-doubt of where God is leading me was to get my hands dirty (literally) and share some conversation with my "kids".
The only way to get out of the pattern of living "deadline to deadline" is to be Jesus' sheep. If I just sit and do nothing, the doubt creeps up and overwhelms me. But if I get up and do what I know God is calling me to do, I am free from the doubt, free from the negative thoughts, free from the fear of the unknown. I am (slowly!!!) learning the importance of being an active Disciple rather than just a passive Christian.
If you are someone who struggles with their faith and is waiting for Jesus to fulfill the expectations you have for him, just like it didn't happen for the Jews all those thousand of years ago, it's not going to happen for you either.
You can't just sit there.
But, if you take a chance and open your bible, go to church, give up your life and become a sheep and are willing to fulfill the expectations that God has for you, you will be set free and God will exceed any and all expectations that you may have had. Your faith will be strengthened. Your heart will overflow. You will see more clearly the expectations that God has for you and they won't seem impossible. Because when we put our faith and trust in our Shepard, we will hear his voice and we will follow him.