Testimony of missionary on furlough. The need for sabbatical rest.
I recently received an email from a faithful missionary who has spent the last 20 years of her life serving in the mission field. Her situation is so typical of many gospel workers. Our conversation went like this...
I have been in ministry for 20 years (mostly overseas in China and Africa and now more recently at a training base equipping and multiplying missionaries). Currently I am on a 3 month leave "sabbatical" or "furlough" and getting rest, refreshment, healing, and direction for my next ministry assignment. I am so hungry for God but it seems never get completely filled...hungry for more. I also have a trend in ministry of getting exhausted. I am wondering if we ever get to that place where we are in God's presence all the time. Is it possible to obtain peace and joy most all of the time in our Christian walk? I seem to go up and down with joy and contentment...peace and His presence. What do you think? What do you suggest?
Regarding your question about burn out, there are a few articles on my web site that deal with that, one by Mike Bickle entitled, "What are you first: worker or lover?" I would also read Brother Lawrences book, "Practicing the Presence of God." Do a search on that subject, there are a few books on it. The old timers like Madam Guyon are good. Also read the article on my site by Watchman Nee, "Waiting on the Lord." In answer to your question, yes I do believe it is possible to walk with the Lord in unbroken refreshing presence. Ministers of the gospel work too hard. It is the trap of the enemy. Jesus promised, "Team up with Me, My yoke is easy, My burden is light." Hope this helps. Hope my songs help. I wrote them especially for people like you.
Yes, I agree that ministers of the gospel are working too hard...perhaps a sickness. The enemy tricks many into thinking there is so much to do and busyness pulls us away from intimacy with God. I myself have seen patterns in my own life of losing joy, exhaustion, busyness, burn out...which leads to bitterness and fears of stepping back into ministry. I just went through this again and I am working during this season to discover how I can over come this in my own life. I know the Father doesn't want me to quit. I desire freedom and joy and to do ministry differently. This year I have experienced physical stress symptoms on a daily basis.....
I know that it was not by accident that I found your website that day and I am believing that the resources of books, music and testimonies will be keys to unlocking deeper intimacy with the Father. I pray that I will still myself daily long enough to feel Him loving on me...and get to that place of being in His presence all the time. I have a ways to go yet.
Thank you so much for the many gifts and many hours of soaking music from your CD ministry. I look forward to soaking and having some fresh new sounds to receive the Father's love through. Huge blessing! Thank you!
Lisa Oldenburg - Missionary to China and Africa