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I Wish I Could Do More

My back has gone out a couple of times this month. I wasn’t doing anything strenuous, yet the muscles in my lower back suddenly went into a spasm which made movement painful. I slowed down my workouts for a week, and I began to feel better. The next week, as I started out my front door to hike with another pastor, my back seized up again. We ended up taking a walk, and then I went home to lie down. It has been hard to sit in a chair, or bend over to tie my shoes for many days.

I knew my back would get worse if I didn’t slow down, so I canceled attending our friend’s Christmas party and my golf plans. I love being with my friends and I hated to bow out of these commitments; yet I had a good idea why my back gave out. I had been attending events every single day for weeks. We have had Saturday night services, and two on Sunday mornings. We have a home group on Sunday night twice a month, and frequent Friday night events. I’ve been guest-hosting radio programs and making other appointments on Mondays, and Monday is supposed to be my day off.

Our church is filled with wonderful people and I enjoy their company. Nobody makes me keep this schedule; I just have a hard time saying no, because I love doing ministry and connecting with people. I struggle applying the counsel I give to others. A life without a healthy pace, leads to a breakdown at your weakest link. Too many good things can become a bad thing. It may be your mind, your emotions, or your body, but sooner or later we all break down if we don’t keep a Sabbath rest in our schedule.

Some people overeat, some have affairs, and many fall into depression because they keep an unhealthy pace. I either become manic, or my back goes out. This does not lead to grace and peace. Stress itself is not the problem. Every person experiences stress. Problems come when we are continually stressed. Being overly engaged in activity is a sign of insecurity, as well as a lack of wisdom.

I called my mother to send her my love recently. Mom is ninety years old. She doesn’t have a lot of money, but every year she sends Christmas letters and checks to her eight children and twenty-six grandchildren and great grandchildren. She currently has a woman with two daughters living at her house so they can save money to get their own place. She will host over thirty family and friends at her house on Christmas Eve, which is a smaller group than normal. She told me she is trying to be a good person, but feels badly because she can’t do as much as she used to do to help people.

As nicely as possible, I started preaching to her over the phone. I knew I needed to hear the message as much as she did, but I shared it anyway.

“Mom, if being a good person could get us into heaven, then Jesus would not have had to die on the cross for us. We are all sinners. You have to learn to trust God’s love for you. It is good to help people, but there is no amount of good works that can save you. Only Christ can bring us salvation.”

This time of year, I too wish I could do more for the people I love. No matter how many gifts Kristina has made or bought for our family and friends, I usually head to the mall the day before Christmas so I can do more. I wish I could give presents to everyone I love. In my mind I know that is not realistic, but in my heart I still feel like a selfish bum for not doing more.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you…” (John 16:7). Jesus wished He could stay and continue to help the people He loved. Yet He was willing to go to the cross, and then to the Father when the time came.

For now I’ll just say I’m very thankful for you who bless me with your love, prayers, and support throughout the year. I’m sending these Reflections with my prayers for you, my love, and this blessing.

May the God of all grace bless you with the joy and peace of Jesus Christ as you trust in Him, may you know His timing for your life, and may He fulfill your desires for fruitfulness this coming New Year.