In The Valley
Have you ever experienced a time in your Christian service where you descend from a great spiritual height back into the valley below? From a time of hearing and seeing God work to a time of spiritual warfare and internal restlessness? Although not a bad thing, it can be quite difficult to retain proper perspective during the transition. For me personally, this came after a major shift in my focus into the Jr. High student ministry. God showered everything with grace and allowed things to go very well right out of the gate. In January we had our Winter Camp, which is the highlight of the season for our students and the ministry. The entire weekend was miraculous! The Lord blessed everything and several students came to know Jesus as their Lord and savior for the first time! The Winter Camp seemed to be a very high point for me in my new ministry position. What followed, though, was confusing for me and difficult to understand.
It seemed that almost immediately upon completion of the camp I began to experience difficulties in Bible study and preparing weekly teachings. Mentally I knew that it was some sort of spiritual warfare…but I could not shake it and it began to wear me down emotionally. I began to internally question my efforts and qualifications for the ministry as well as God’s plans and what I had seen him doing thus far. I was aware that there would be a little let down after putting so much time and energy into an event like the winter camp but I began feeling like things in the ministry were not going the way they should. The students did not seem to be energized or changed by the camp and just slipped back into the normal routine. I know this sounds presumptuous to judge what is going on in the mind and heart of a student and it absolutely is. But there I was doing it and questioning everything from the teaching to the future events planned. At no point was I deeply discouraged but I certainly was very disillusioned and confused. On top of this, my weekly Bible study and sermon prep time was becoming increasingly difficult each week.
And then something happened that I cannot fully explain. God showed up…of course he had never strayed even for a moment, but something different happened, God showed up. He allowed me to see clearly that I had been struggling in my own strength to do that which only He can do. Through a series of online theology classes he began to show me a clearer picture of Himself, the true leader of this ministry. And finally, as I continued my Bible study and preparation for that week’s teaching, He led me to a proper perspective of my own situation. In serving His people I need to first look always to Him. Didn’t I already know this? Yes, but I had somehow undervalued the importance of this truth, and then without even realizing it, began to wrestle with things far too big and unattainable for anyone except Jesus. It was as if a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders! As Matthew 11:29-30 states, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I am still a work in progress with such a limited and small view of the work that is going on. Thankfully Jesus is not limited at all, and His ability far exceeds my own!