This is my favorite line from a hymn, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” The words were penned by Joachim Neander way back in 1680. He was writing words to a German Folk tune, no doubt so that it could be sung in church! The original words were most likely German. But thanks to Catherine Winkworth, this hymn became popular in British and American churches once she translated it to English. Thanks, Catherine (1863).
First of all, I love the name Winkworth!
Second, I came across the girl’s name Wynter today, and I equally love that!!
I digress. Sorry.
I was reading over the words to this old hymn yesterday and I had another line jump out at me with some different meaning than I had before:
O my soul praise Him for He is your health and salvation! Come, all who hear; now to His temple draw near.
Long ago, Joachim knew that Jesus was our physical health and our spiritual health. Both. And as the people drew near to the temple, they made noises of glad adoration (next line, my words). But because I am that temple of God’s spirit, I am responsible for drawing near to His presence in me with glad adoration. It isn’t just about going to church and fellowshipping with believers, it is also a matter of simply drawing near one on one with Him who lives in me.
So often we make these categorical boxes out of our lives: a work box; an entertainment box; a health box; a church box. But I would venture to say that all other boxes need to overflow out of a full Jesus box that stays so close to your heart and soul that you are unrecognizable without it. It is who you are.
I love time with old hymns, for sure. This one came to me via She Reads Truth Lent Study. Earlier in those same pages, they printed “He Leadeth Me.” What theology is present in this old church song:
Whate’er I do, where’er I be, still tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
Today at work, I listened to a mini seminar about health in the workplace. Now, it was specifically intended to be about ministry health since I work at a church, but God led my mind on some rabbit trails, ending with what I felt was so impressed upon my brain and spirit that I could not forget nor ignore it??
First we talked through reasons why it is so prevalent in the current mainstream church for those who are employed to quit. Some quit the job. But a growing number are quitting the ministry altogether! They are leaving a call God placed on their lives! I realize some may never have actually felt that call, so to speak. They entered ministry for another reason, the foremost being a paying job; a love for a group of people. So many reasons. But even those who said they were in a ministry field because God called them there, are leaving en masse in these last days.
Spiritual Warfare (or perceived warfare)
And to be sure, some of these are reasons to think through your job situation. But if God has placed you in the job for here and now, you can be sure that the grass is the same green on the other side of the fence as it is where you are now.
I am peaching to the choir here, folks, because I do not love my job. But I realized anew (when I pondered it) what the Almighty can do!! If I do my job with His love and attitude of service, the possibilities are endless.
No, this is not what “I could not forget or ignore.” But it’s coming…
So, how, then, do we maintain health in ministry; health in our work environment? It is mostly a matter of working on your individual self in connection with Jesus, and then outpouring to others around you. In my workplace, there are roughly 30 employees, working in every capacity there would be to allow a large church to function as the hands and feet of Jesus. When we all work together and support each other’s areas of ministry, we have a well oiled machine that cannot be equaled. But it takes being intimately connected to Jesus and taking up the slack for those who are struggling at any given time. Maybe that is where a ministry differs most noticeably from a different type of workplace. We take up the slack. No one gets thrown under the proverbial bus.
Even if they should be….
Haha, the hardest question with a ministry for a workplace is when has enough grace been given and when is it time to be harsh for the person’s own good.
One self-care category that was discussed was physical health. No one can do a job well if they are not physically well. Right now, someone is on extended leave due to a leukemia diagnosis. Not long ago, a coworker had a second heart attack. Carpal tunnel surgeries. Knee issues. Oh, my! Working for Jesus does not exempt you from the world’s health issues, trust me. But maintaining your temple should be an utmost priority.
I have said before that there seems to be a large number of fellow employees who have weight issues. And i am in no way pointing fingers because I have no doubt that I have the most weight to lose. Just so you know that. But the conversation was in no way circulating around “eat better”, “eat less”. One person did mention working out more?? And far be it from the FAT PERSON in the room to make mention of eating less??? That is the elephant in the room, in more ways than one. Many people talk to me about the need to lose weight, because my weight issue makes it easier to be comfortable going there? Maybe it is reverse psychology, and they think if they talk about it I will get the idea??
Did I honestly say that?? I think that all the time, but let’s just get it out there…
So here is where God shot His never-random arrow into my soul. My brain said, “What these people need is someone to come in and help them eat better and get healthy.” I kid you not: that thought was definitely a “these people” not a “we”. I need a serious pride check every hour of every day, folks. But at this point God impressed on my heart this statement:
I am calling you to do this. I am calling you to go into small workplaces, particularly ministries, and gather up those who are dying because of the sin of gluttony, and show them a BETTER WAY. So stop messing around and learn that BETTER WAY I am trying to show/teach you so you can get started.
And just like Moses, who I have been learning so much about of late, I said, “But God, you KNOW how much I hate talking in front of people!” And just like God didn’t let Moses lie there in his perceived inability, He most likely will not allow me to do that either.
So this is the first time ever I have even thought God might be specifically directing me to anything? I am kind of excited, but also frustrated right out of the start gate because I have pretty much convinced myself that I CANNOT DO WEIGHT LOSS.
But God is saying, “YES YOU CAN.” And His yes is huge compared to my no, right? I feel invigorated to a greater obedience, which is what consecrated weakness is all about.
Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. I John 4:4
And even though my heart cries out in such dismay and overwhelming failure,
God is greater than my heart and He knows everything. I John 3:20
I began praying for a mentor this afternoon, someone who did the HARD and worked through extreme weight loss in a way that brought attention to Jesus, not themselves. I am going to have confidence for now in what He will send me or show me??
By His grace and for His glory,