Spent.

anonymous barefooted melancholic woman embracing knees on floor
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We resumed homeschooling right after Labor Day (the irony is not lost on me), and I have been dead-dog tired ever since. I find myself pretty exhausted each day whether I actually get to exercise or not. There’s something about teaching that is both rewarding and depleting. I feel immense joy at seeing my kids learn and grow, whether we’re adding or dividing, learning to read, or memorizing a poem, but there’s also intense weariness that pounces on me from behind the moment I sit down. I’ve learned the importance of “self-care,” and I’ve implemented a day off for myself each Tuesday. I know full well that I can’t run on caffeine and fumes. Rest and renewal are part of God’s plan for us. So, my kids attend a drop-off homeschool co-op, and I am free to spend my day however I like. I like to exercise, read, write, and sometimes pick up a special drink at a coffee shop. Little acts like these have become very restorative to me in this full season of my life.

Now that I’m an adult in my 40s, I’m realizing a clarifying characteristic of adulthood is being tired. I look at my husband, a medical doctor, and ask, “Why am I so tired?” I do happen to have a medical condition that requires me to take a proper dosage of medication every day. If I don’t, over time, I will become very fatigued. Thankfully, I haven’t had to adjust that medication in quite some time and cannot blame my sleepiness on it. In his wisdom, my dear and loving husband reminds me that we have six children, four of whom are still homeschooled, a household that I run, women I minister to regularly, and the normal stress that accompanies life. I’m tired because I do a lot. Caring for souls is expensive, not monetarily, but in terms of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional expenditure, the cost is astronomical.

This morning, as I was reading my Bible, I read 2 Corinthians 12 in which Paul is addressing the believers at Corinth. He has spent most of the letter reminding them that he has served them endlessly without compensation, without fanfare, without lording it over them as others had purported. Paul doesn’t complain about serving them, and despite their harsh criticism of his character, he declares, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Cor. 12:15, ESV). He loved this church. He helped start this church! They had begun to disdain him for his weaknesses and sufferings, embarrassed that he was not as impressive as these new super-apostles who crept into the church at Corinth and poisoned the believers against him.

Paul previously had stated all of his suffering for the churches, how he had been imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, adrift at sea (!!!), endless journeys, in dangers too numerous to list (though he tries!), hunger, thirst, out in the cold. The man labored for the church. He loved the church, warts and all. He also relates how he received “a thorn in the flesh” to keep him from becoming conceited about the revelations he had received from God. Despite asking God to remove it three times, it remained, and Jesus, Himself, spoke to Paul about it. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV). Paul concludes then that if he boasts, he will boast in his weakness so that the power of Christ will rest upon him. He tells the Corinthians, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV).

There are so many days when I crawl into bed, spent. I have labored until I feel there is not much left of me to give. I share Paul’s anxiety for those in my care. Are they rooted? Are they growing? Are they living in freedom? My weariness is proof of my weakness, and the only necessity is this: I need the power of Christ to rest on me. I am not enough on my own. My ministry to others is insufficient without Christ. It is only by His power and His grace being enough, I can keep going. Regardless of the sacrifices made, regardless of the hardships I face, I can rest in His work, and tomorrow, I can get up and most gladly spend and be spent for their souls, again. This is a life well-spent.

Finding God’s Will for Your Life: Knowing God

As I began contemplating this past week about how to begin this series, what I kept coming back to was the character of God. Understanding who God is as a Person is the starting point when you want to know what His will is for your life. His character and personhood reveals what is important to Him, and concurrently, what is important to those who follow Him.

But getting to know the God of the Universe? Is that even possible? Is He accessible? I just want to know whether or not to move from here to there or whether or not I should take that job; what do those decisions have to do with knowing God?

The good news is that it IS possible to know the God of the Universe. He is absolutely accessible, and believe it or not, knowing Him will help you decide if that move is right for you. How can we get to know the God who created the world? How can we access Him? And even more than that, how can we know Him as a father and as a friend?

The good news is that God has been in the business of revealing Himself to humans from the first day of creation. When he began creating everything, He did so with the end in mind:

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

Psalm 19;1-4, esv

His creation proclaims His existence, His creativity, His order, His attention to detail, His sovereignty, His greatness, His vastness, and on and on. In fact, His very creation leaves all of us without an excuse for not knowing Him.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

romans 1:19-20, esv

God never intended to play hide and seek with us. He put Himself out there in plain sight. We can see His artistry in the sunset, the millions of light years away stars, the myriad of species of birds and bugs, the individually designed snowflakes and fingerprints, and to ignore His presence is to ignore the very nose on your face.

God didn’t stop with creation in His revelation to humankind. He also began telling men over hundreds of years to write down what He was saying to them. He decided to reveal Himself in the written word. The pages of the Bible are full of stories showing God’s character at every turn. We see Him as the God who provides when he sovereignly provided a ram in the thicket for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son, Isaac. We learn He is the God who Sees when pregnant Hagar is shunned by Sarah and runs away to the desert where she believes her life is over. We learn He is the God our Healer when He made the bitter water sweet in the wilderness.

As Christians, our very foundation of belief is found in the pages of this Book. Every claim I make in these blog posts about God and faith will be supported by the Scriptures because it is the authority on which I have grown to know God myself (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV). In order to know a person, you have to know what they’re like, and I’ve found Him in these pages.

Thus says the LORD, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23-24, esv

I read the above verses this morning when I was studying, and though I’d read them before, they hit me as a clear and concise statement of who He is and His desire to be known by us in this way. He wants us to boast in knowing Him and that what we see in our knowledge of Him is that He is a God who delights in steadfast love (also called mercy), in justice (for wrongdoing), and in righteousness (right living). From this verse alone, I know that if I follow this God and know His heart for these three things, that I, too, ought to delight in steadfast love, justice, and righteousness. Which in turn would keep me from making decisions in opposition to those–I won’t pursue a life of sin because He delights in righteousness. I won’t steal or overcharge or cheat someone because He is just. I won’t persist in unforgiveness when someone has sinned against me because he loves mercy. When I see Him in the truth of who He is, in the pages of His Word, I come to understand His heart. And even better than that? He didn’t stop revealing Himself with mere creation or His Book. He took it a step further.

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

matthew 1:20-21, esv

He sent His Son. His plan to rescue us would reach us on every level. He designed our world to speak His name. He designed His word to be written by over 40 authors over a period of 1600 years to reveal His character and dealings with the people of God. But He wanted us to see what He was like in flesh and blood form, so he sent Jesus. He was before all things (Col. 1:17). He was the Word made flesh (Jn. 1:14). He was the ultimate revelation of God to men, and “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men and women by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, ESV).

Jesus came to show us what God was like. And He lived out of that identity–He healed the sick, he saw those who suffered, he provided food for the hungry, He was fully God and fully man in one person living His life in mercy, justice, and righteousness so that we could know the Father and be reconciled to Him. He would be both our Father and our Friend.

Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.

Jesus, John 14:9 (ESV)

There’s no denying we need Him to save us from our sins. There’s no denying we need His life in us so that we can live lives that love God and love others. Knowing His heart for us, that we are loved, sacrificed for, healed, restored, and ultimately, glorified is enough to make the weakest of us boast in knowing Him. He’s so good to us, how can we be silent? Understanding the goodness of God as shown to us in Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection will give birth to hearts who want to share that goodness with the world. And it’s there–His goodness–that I want to land today in terms of knowing His will for your life.

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that He has made.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all His works.

Psalm 145:8-9, 17, ESV

God’s will for your life begins and ends with His goodness. In His goodness, He has made a way for you to know Him, to have His eternal life, and for you to live in His unshakeable kingdom. This is the first step to knowing His will is to realize that His will is for you to know Him. To know Him, look around you, see all He’s made, see His character revealed in the Bible, and look to Jesus, in whom the “fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). Put your faith in His life, His death, and His resurrection as both the means of your salvation from sin and His victory over death and the grave and all other kingdoms of this world. Know Him. Pursue Him.

This is good news, friends! And if you already know Him, and know all of the truth I’ve already written about, you also know that there is more. This foundational truth of knowing God first in order to know His will is the first step to making decisions that love God and love others. Next week, I’ll be sharing my own story of how the goodness of God has chased me down in my choices. Don’t miss it! Subscribe here, and I’ll see you next week.