Julie Lyles Carr: Sunday Selah

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Selah

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11


To-do lists.


Extra curricular opportunities.

Practices, chores, meetings, deadlines, assignments, duties, good deeds, service projects, events.

Good things, necessary items.

But all the parts and pieces of a little destination called Overwhelm.

Perhaps one of the most stressful times in M's and my early marriage was when we were deeply involved in planting a new church. Almost every evening was taken up with practices, meetings, studies and fellowship events. Weekends were spent putting up sound and stage equipment and then tearing it all down. We spent intensive time discussing evangelism approaches, personal accountability, interpersonal issues between team members.

It all seemed so holy and noble when we started, the chance to be a part of a new movement. All the events and commitments seemed so necessary, so high, so important.

And because it all did seem so highborn, we were a little shocked to find, after all the striving and busyness and lack of time as a family, we completely and totally burned out.

We were initially gentle chided by our fellow church planters, with strong encouragement to press on. After a time, we were scolded. And ultimately, we knew we would have to start over as we simply would no longer keep up the level of involvement that seemed to be a critical part of this particular church culture.

It was difficult to make the decision. Everything that was involved in church life were things we deeply valued. We certainly wanted to use whatever gifts and talents we had for the Lord. But an insidious thing happened on our journey of overwhelming involvement.

We missed the point of all that activity.

We were so involved each evening, we were never home, which meant we knew very few of our neighbors. We were so involved every weekend, most of our social time was taken up with people in the church, not with the co-workers in M's office who so desperately needed gentle contact with believers. And we were so entrenched in developing and honing all the church relationships, we were allowing the relationship of our marriage to go untended and undernourished.

And when all is said and done, there comes a time, whatever the level of over-involvement is, that inspecting the fruit of that time investment must take place.

And our fruit was looking pretty pitiful.

So we started over. We kept loving the folks we had been such workers with, but we grafted ourselves into a new church family. We learned to keep our marriage and our kids as a priority. We got to know our neighbors. We were able to minister to co-workers.

We stopped the frenetic activity of church planting and started allowing the gospel to flourish and grow and be exhibited in our lives.

Now don't read me wrong; involvement in church life is a wonderful part of the life of a believer, and there are certainly those who are called to begin new ministries. Our Christian friendships sustain us and strengthen us. We love to serve the body and have been so blessed by those who have served us. It's a wonderful, beautiful thing.

But we're learning. We've learned to pray to discern what is best. We've learned to chose. We've learned to focus on the primary ministries the Lord has placed in our lives. We don't have it all down pat and we certainly can be pulled back into arenas that sound awfully virtuous. I sometimes battle my overachieveing guilt bug that whispers droning dereliction of duty deceitfulness in my ear. We're still learning.





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