November 23, 2011
(See also: The Ministry Burn-Out July 3, 2011)
I’ve always loved coming out to my grandparents farm in Western Illinois. I remember when I was younger we would come out here and spend Christmas. The whole family gathering together at the farmhouse, opening presents on Christmas morning. The smell of Grandma’s Christmas Coffee Cake cooking slowing in the oven. The closeness of family and friends, Aunts and Uncles and cousins that I didn’t get to see at any other time in the year. In the summer we’d visit and climb up to the old Treehouse and swing on the rope swings. Grandpa would take us out and put us on one of his Mare’s and we’d get in trouble for playing pranks and doing stupid things that young kids do.
Then for some reason, most likely money and distance, we stopped coming out here. We started spending Christmas at home and the farm seemed like a distant memory. Then freshmen year of college, while I was sitting in my dorm room pondering my first Easter apart from my family my grandmother called and asked if I wanted to come out to the farm. I got the money and bought my ticket and took the train out to Gailsberg. I got off and was greeted by my Grandmother and Uncle. I spent the night at my Aunt and Uncle’s and then headed out to the farm for the first time of years.
The tree’s still there, the Treehouse isn’t, neither are the rope swings, but it was still the same farm, the place of my childhood. The hot summers, the cold winters with warm family, the memories came flooding back to me as I entered the house, that like everything else there seemed trapped in time, or apart from time.
I returned to the farm last Easter, and then found myself pondering what to do for Thanksgiving for I couldn’t go home because of money, when once again the phone rang, it was Grandma asking to see if I wanted to come up and spend our week long break here. Another train ride and I had returned once again to my place of Shalom, the place where God speaks volumes to me, where peace and timeless memories collide to form a beautiful painting, each brushstroke carefully preserved by a Holy God who created them.
We all need places like this in Ministry, I’ve talked before about the Ministry Burn-Out, this is one of the ways I’ve found to avoid this burn-out. Just getting away from where God has called me, even if it’s a forced get away. To step back and take a break from Ministering to the guys in my dorm and people on campus, from homework and Sterling and just go to a quiet place of solitude and rest. To turn off the computer and smell the cooking of my grandmother’s pies, even help if possible. To see my cousins, aunts and uncles, new family members, future family members and just let God speak to me through the quiet and re-energize me for the final two weeks of school before I get to return home to Ohio for two more weeks of rest.
Dear friends, I think this type of Soul care, just getting away is important in our Christian walks. I know Jesus did it, several times He just went away and found a quiet place to pray, to just spend time with His father. This is a part of being healthy Christians, it gives us time to study and just lose ourselves in the father. It allows Him to get us apart from the busy lives we try to lead and really work and speak with us. To prepare us for the next season of life , no matter how short.
Where is your place of peace, your escape, the place you just get to discover God? How much time do you spend there? How often do you get away? If the answer is I don’t know, none and I don’t then dear friends you are on your way to burn-out. I pray that happens to none of you, yes we must keep feeding the poor, we must keep clothing the naked, we must keep healing the sick and we must keep visiting the prisoners and preaching the gospel. But we can’t do that if we are burnt out and used up by the task God has given us to do well, we have only been portioned one life and God wants to use that to the fullest extent He can, but He also cares for us and wants us to be healthy and to do that sometimes, you just need to get away.