"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I am going through Voices of the Faithful (the first one). I heard about this from Lori, who had been given it as a gift. Beth Moore got the project going and Kim P. Davis compiled the devotions written by International Mission Board missionaries from around the world. There are two volumes now. Our friend Suzie has a day in each volume and her hubby Kevin is in the second volume. It is a daily devotional, but I do a handful of days at a time because I love reading the stories.
Each month has a theme. I am now in the month of April, where the theme is God’s Grace. Beth Moore writes an introduction to each chapter. As usual, she has a way with words and describing things. In this section she is specifically talking about Bitterness, but I also think it is an excellent way of talking about Burnout as well.
In this section Beth Moore asks the reader to consider the differences between “us” and “them” for a minute (in the intro she makes the point that “they” are just like “us”, but in this next way, she wants us to see a difference). “Us” being the reader, a layperson in “church speak”-not on a church staff or missionary by vocation. “Them” would then of course be those who are, whether here in the States or not I would say. She says:

“While many of “us” may have given our lives, our futures and our plans to God, all of “them” have. So?

“So, the deeper the emotional exposure to God, the deeper the wound can plunge when a servant sustains a hurt. A person who offers God little more than a few hours on Sunday and a blessing over a meal doesn’t have the same potential for devastation toward God when something terrible happens. And Satan knows it. For this reason, we can be confident that Satan picks on “them” even more than “us.” He knows they’ve fully exposed themselves. They are out on a limb so far with God that if someone cuts it off, they have nothing left. Satan does everything he can to convince them after all they’ve done for God, he has been unfaithful to them. Satan actually has no power to cut the limb, but the sound of the saw in our spiritual ears can be enough to make us jump.”

“…The King James Version of Hebrews 12:15 says, “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you.” The profound implication is this: God will always offer the grace we need in any tribulation or tragedy not to become bitter; but if we miss it or refuse it, bitterness can become so deeply rooted that many are defiled.

“Make no mistake. Satan is constantly on the lookout for what he can do to one that can affect many. The more deeply exposed the believer is to God, the more deeply the enemy tries to plant bitterness because he knows how many might eat from its poison fruit.”

“…whether you’re an “us” or “them”, far more is going on around you than meets the eye. A war is raging in the heavenlies. Glory is at stake. You will not miss the test. None of us will. But will you miss the grace when the test comes?”

“One day we’ll understand, and until then, we must trust. Keep exposing yourself. Keep offering God your all. Go as far out on the limb as you can. Christ is the Branch that no one can cut out from under you.”

--Voices of the Faithful, Beth Moore, pp. 109-111

So yes, Burnout and bitterness happens all over. No, it doesn’t only happen in the mission field. It happens right here in the US too, right down the street from your friends and family. I think one of the other differences is that when you are on the field, your family, your friends and your church body AREN’T there (physically) to encourage you along. They can encourage you through phone and email, but it just isn’t the same. When your work is your whole life, you can’t shut it off at the end of the day, week, whatever and switch to another gear. Because everywhere you go, you see your work.
So how do you get over the bitterness? It is a daily choice I guess. There is no magic pill. You do not decide today and tomorrow it is all better. I can’t really tell you how we did it/do it/are doing it. I wish I could. It just sort of happens, over time. I know there have literally been hundreds of people praying for us, specifically about this situation for us and we’ve prayed ourselves. I hate to make it sound cliché, but it’s true-you just do (get over it). Not on your own but by surrendering to the Holy Spirit that lives in you and allowing the fruits of the Spirit to manifest in your life. And yes it is still and always will be a daily choice.

No comments: