Joy At The Circus: Balance in a life spent with God.


It feels good to be home.
Even though we traveled some over the holidays, we were "at home" with each other.
Post November youth ministry conferences and post December church events and services, we find ourselves finally at home. But there have also been times when I've found myself wandering in search of "home" a place we can barely remember because our lives have careened off center and into hyper-work-life-ministry-funk.

I've appreciated this downtime to center.
To go deeper in my relationship with God.
To be available.
To be present.
To just be--nothing but me.

And as I gear up for a spring full of life and change and really great things.
I remember a journal entry that meant a lot to me before our first child was born.
It was written by someone I'd admire greatly, someone who took the work of the Holy Spirit
and the words of Christ seriously--but didn't lose herself or her purpose in selfishness. It was her story,
as she ministered to prostitutes in Chicago and the story of Dolores, a friend fighting to overcome the mean streets and grueling life it offered. It's one of the most moving books I've ever read.

These words resonated with me. And as I re-read them today I thought they might resonate with you. Even if you don't have a heart for inner-city work. Our hearts should beat for those where the Gospel is heard least. And these words are given in places where it's easy to feel empty and alone and in exile.

It doesn't really matter if you work for church full-time, if you volunteer, if you serve God quietly and unbeknownst to anyone. All of us can feel this way.

Empty.

I read this poem while working for a mega church--with a mega purpose--feeling mega responsibility.
If my hair wasn't on fire, it was pretty close.
On the edge, I read words that could have been pulled straight form my thoughts, they expressed the essence of my spirit.

It is amazing to have moved beyond this to a place of rest and strength. And, if I'm tempted to revisit that place I know that God is able to bring me back, again and again.

Maybe you're there.
Maybe you've just come from there.
Wherever you are, we have to remember that joy is the center of ministry.
And joy, true joy, comes from a life spent with God.

Where are you today? Are you home? Loving others from a source of joy? Or in exile? Empty?

Balance (from I Hear a Seed Growing, by Edwina Gately)
August 5th, 1984

So much struggling-
realising that I need balance
between reaching out and reaching in.
I need to do some things just for me,
like paint and play,
and read and build sandcastles.
I need to stop
for a long time,
to think about that.
Where did I miss it? Lost it?
For joy is the center of ministry.
Joy should precede ministry, 
nurture it and fulfill it.
But I am so intense about ministry,
and take it so solemnly
(as if I were responsible for it)
that I become weighed down
by its ups and downs,
its disappointments and failures.
I suffocate joy with seriousness....
I imagine everything depends on me--
when everything is God's business,
and God has already taken care of
all [God's] creation
and all [God's] people.
We are only to walk with each other,
love each other,
God's is the healing,
the growing,
and the fulfilling.
When I lose perspective
and imagine everything,
(or most things)
revolving around myself,
I make myself 
a little god,
and lose my joy.
For I was never made 
to be a little god--
only to be loved
by the Great God.
Perhaps I am too busy
trying to love other people
instead of learning
to love myself.
When I can do that
I might begin to understand
how great God's love is.
When I go thru'
darkness, heaviness and anxiety,
it is God's invitation
for me to stop
looking outwards 
and start
looking inwards
and be loving an gentle 
with myself.
I am called to minister
for my own joy.
When my joy diminishes,
so does my ministry.
When I have fun and
enjoy myself
God does!
Then I am most like God-
who is joy!