***I was asked to write an article on some of the things that God taught me on my Medical Leave for our Global Staff Women's Blog, God is More, so I decided to share the article here with you.
He Makes Me Lie Down
When we read Psalm 23 we often picture a pastoral setting. a beautiful lake with green grass, a shepherd and his flock of sheep just ambling through the picture. But in my case, these past months have given me a different picture. A sheep that is set apart from the rest, lying down but protesting, with the hand of the shepherd on his back holding him down. “He MAKES me lie down….”
I consider myself a typical staff woman, called in my 20’s, a Type A personality that has spent her life making things happen. At least that was until I had to admit that I just couldn’t push anymore because there was nothing left of me. I was officially starting a 'Medical Leave' of unknown duration and had no idea what it was going to look like. I had blown through too many red lights in my efforts to be all things to all people and my medical files looked like the who's who of bad news.
Now I was going to slow down and concentrate on the three most important relationships in my life and no more...my walk with God, my husband and my family. It's been an interesting time to say the least and I've learned some lessons along the way.
1. I've learned that life goes on without me!! I'm not indispensable. The ministry has carried on without me and continues to reach thousands of people around the world every month. As Dr. Howard Hendricks once said, 'Put your finger in a glass of water and then pull it out. The hole that is left is how indispensable you are!' So very true. God is at work whether I am there or not!
2. Sleep is good and rest is wonderful! Not waking up to the alarm clock every morning is an amazing thing. I remember years ago my retired aunt and uncle telling me that the best part of retirement was sleeping until they were well rested every day. I'm finding out what it is to wake up well rested for the first time in a very, very long time.
3. Relationships take work and energy even when they are the most important relationships in your life. I always knew that but it's been reinforced in my mind these past months. When energy is a precious commodity that you have very little of, you begin to realize that what you do have you want to spend on the relationships that are most precious to you, plain and simple, no excuses needed.
4. Friendships are invaluable and if you are too busy to spend time with friends you are just too busy. I have been able to have long, long distance calls with a friend who lost her mother, tea with friends that I hadn't seen in years, and an overdue visit with a dear 'older' woman and friend. Each interaction has blessed and energized me! I realized just how long it was since I just took time to spend with friends. My life was definitely out of balance. There are just two things that will be there in eternity, God and people. Everything else stays here so it’s pretty easy to do the math!
5. God is not obligated to show me today what He is going to reveal to me tomorrow. As much as I would have wanted to know at the beginning of my leave what it would look like at the end, He wasn’t about to show me. Instead it was more about being still, waiting on Him, enjoying my relationship with Him and not about doing or checking off a list of things to do. God is so much more than just the provider of a grocery list of wants or desires that I bring to Him.
As I finish off my sixth decade of life this year I am still waiting. My medical leave is over, but my role in the ministry is not totally defined. What I do know is that He has called me and shown me that Acts 20:24 is still true of my life:
But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus - the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.