I reach a point in every illness, be it a head cold or flu, where I start to sympathize with the Teacher in Ecclesiastes and think the world is dark and meaningless. The refrain in my head has gone to “meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless” at times, I will admit. During last night’s bout of self-pity I realized something. When I am sick, tired, overworked, have poured myself to overflowing and empty I start to doubt myself and experience guilt and relational fear. This has been a lifelong struggle for me, perhaps having to do with being the youngest of 6 children, a peacemaker by nature, and a person who hates conflict and raised voices. This results in me feeling like any unhappiness in the world, any lost soul, any event to which I am committed and not fully immersed in the planning of, any class I may be taking and have missed a session, is a direct result of my efforts and presence.
Hmmm. When I look at this, take stock, and think about it, I sure get to a place where I think that I’m vital and central to the lives of practically everyone I come into contact with. If I miss that event that person I’ve been praying for will miss an opportunity to interact with someone who doesn’t know Christ. If I’m not at that practice I am letting everyone down. If that assignment is late unholy something will fall upon my head. If I don’t love up that person they will be turned off God and the Church forever.
Even writing this, I see that when I get so busy I lose perspective. I start to focus on my own efforts and forget that I’m not the boss of the world. I forget that I’m serving God first and people second. If I fail, God doesn’t lose, God doesn’t fail. God uses my service but is not bound by my service in order to see his work done in the world. When I lose perspective I lose perspective not only on my own importance but also I lose perspective on God’s importance. I lose sight of him and my struggles get harder. I forget to pray in all of my busy and frantic activity. I let guilt rather than a heart of love dictate my service. I forget that it is not people’s’ approval but God’s that I’m seeking. I forget that there are so many other people working with me to serve God and accomplish his will on earth.
(Insert heavy sigh of released tension here) It is freeing to realize that service is not all about me. Not that I look for glory, but that I’m not the be all end all of God’s work in the world. I like knowing that it’s not all up to me. I like that it’s up to God because at my best, it’s just a drop of what he has planned for the world. Thank goodness I’m not all that and a bag of chips. It lets me be freed to worship, to serve God rather than my own insecurities, and to rest on him rather than running ragged. It is reassuring to know who you are in God’s eyes, and to know who you are in relation to him. There is freedom and rest in trusting him to see his work don in the world and take the place of follower rather than saviour.