So what causes a soul to bankrupt the wellspring?
That was the question that plagued my mind this past Sunday sitting in church, for the most part in my own little world population me. I was down, suffering from some mild depression and wondering why. Let me rewind the week for you so you can scratch your head with me over this situation I found myself in.
My family is awesome. It began with a day off which is always a good thing. My marriage has never been better, I find myself falling more in love with my wife the more I see of other extremes(after all you don’t see a chaplain when your marriage is great), I am truly blessed. My kids live for the familiar click of the deadbolt and I’m greeted with gleeful shouts of “Daddy’s home!” regardless of whether I spent the last 10 days in the field or the last 10 minutes at the gas station my kids are extatic at my presence (I pray I never get over that).
Life is good. Work is humbling and awe-inspiring. I’d lie if I said this was my own but a friend of mine put chaplain ministry this way: “I always knew this is what I was called to do I just didn’t know it was called chaplaincy.” That truly is my heart. I love what I do. I’ve spend days in counseling session after another sharing the story of Christ in every way that I can to end my day in exhaustion, a small grin crosses my face as I head home for the night, grateful for the ability to serve God and country in this capacity.
I’m beginning to fit in. My C.O. informed me that he appreciated what I was doing, and trust me, ministering in general is very much a none quantifiable endeavour(ministering in the military even moreso), so when something is noticed it speaks volumes.
All in all I should be on cloud nine, and there I sat in church – NOT on cloud nine. So again, what causes a soul to bankrupt?
In a world that is in entirely me focused it is hard to imagine that there is a necessity within the soul to take care of one’s self. Isn’t that what we do anyway? We don’t need to be told to look out for number one we already do that, it is our nature. In fact, we could probably all agree we spend more time pursuing own pleasures them we do caring about the pleasure and wellbeing of others.
And that’s the lie; that pursuit of self-pleasure is the same think as self-care. It’s not. In fact, self-care is probably the most difficult thing in the world to actualize. It’s not a desire to unwind or relax after a hard day, we do that naturally, we are drawn to this do nothing attitude. Self-care is a focused effort to do something for ourselves that we’d rather not do but actually need to. In John five Jesus is talking to the woman and the well and informs her that if she knew who he was that he could give her a drink of living water and she would thirst no more. A wellspring if you will – to sustain life from within.
Self-care is drawing unto you the requirements for a life of joy in all things. And then it hit me, something I had learned years back, minister from the overflow. The principle is simple in thought – difficult in practice.
Stay with me here for a second.
If God creates within us a wellspring of life then it stands to reason that eventually that wellspring will overflow the banks of our own spirits, and it is from that overflow that we pour out the good news of Christ to those around us. But if there is blockage at the source of the river, then when we try to minister from what we have we find ourselves drying up, even dying because instead of giving from the goodness of God we are instead giving from the lifeblood of our own souls and we dry up, burn out, bankrupt, essentially we find ourselves sitting in church at the end of an awesome week at a loss as to why we are melancholy.
I was quenching the spirit, and didn’t even know it. I’ve always wondered how men and women could get burn out on ministry – I’ve now seen with my own eyes the beginning of that path into the dry lands. Run hard after Him, and be full to the overflow. Then serve!
I’ll leave you with lyrics to one of the formative songs in my early days as a minister.
Give me one pure and holy passion
Give me one magnificent obsession
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after you
To know and follow hard after you
To grow as your disciple in the truth
This world is empty, pale, and poor
Compared to knowing you my Lord
Lead me on and I will run after you
Lead me on – into the overflow.
Because He IS