I love refreshments. My taste buds tingle when I hear a little snack is in order. I’m pretty sure this sensation is universal, unless you are sure the “delicacies” will be cardboard, and I’m pretty sure your empty stomach wouldn’t mind a little something to satisfy if it were offered unexpectedly.
Thankfully, these refreshments are very tangible and relatively immediate.
Jesus offered refreshments to over 10,000 people at once to satisfy their immediate need. He was also providing a different kind of refreshment – the spiritual kind. He told the woman at the well it was called “living water” and she wanted it immediately.
Food refreshments supply an immediate need; spiritual refreshments fulfill something deeper.
Christ’s living water was a spiritual refreshment, and the woman experienced it, but she didn’t expect it. Considering her family history, culture, marital issues, and gender, she had probably settled on the fact that her life would be miserable. But she experienced an unexpected spiritual refreshment. It was like a wake-up call from a compassionate King.
I have been thinking about my own journey lately, and have found that I have recently been experiencing the compassion and grace of the King. I have felt very fulfilled, and I believe it has been a kind of spiritual refreshment for me.
A Little Context
To give you a little context, I have spent much of my life training for ministry, involved in some kind of church leadership from my early teens. When I was about 14, I started playing music for my church. Twenty-three years later, I graduated from seminary with a masters of theology degree. Though I’m not a die-hard planner, my expectations were that I would be working in a church.
It ramped up a bit in the last 10 years, with much worship leading, youth leading, and interning. After some dramatic changes over the last three years, my role is completely different from what I expected.
As of Today
Right now, I am teaching music, tutoring a class of junior high students, and working at Chilis as a server.
In all these things, the grace of God has abounded. I am privileged to teach about 30 students per week in music without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. The junior-high class of 12-14 year-olds is a highlight of my week, and I get to develop relationships with some great people at Chilis on the weekends.
On top of this, I have set aside some time to spend out in the garage, working with wood.
Considering my context, these activities are somewhat counterintuitive, but to what extent am I sure that I would be either fulfilled or miserable in the context of church leadership? I am not sure either way, but I know this, that the kind of ministry we are involved in as a family would not look like this if we were on staff at a church.
The path my wife and I have chosen began with a leading from God that we should “focus on relationships, and be a blessing.” This is quite vague, to be sure, and we felt it. We wanted a specific direction. We wanted a specific vision. We wanted something more tangible.
But we didn’t get it.
Does this sound familiar?
“Go to a land that I will show you…,” God had said to Abram. God hasn’t changed a bit. He consistently withholds “very important” information to train His children in faith. Abram did not get specific direction, vision or anything tangible. He just sort of…went.
Now, I’m no Abraham, and I can’t even claim I felt completely confident about our direction. I wanted something specific, after all, and I secretly hoped God would deliver an unmistakable, perfect task for us on a silver platter.
When has God ever done that? All the disciples heard was, “follow Me.”
I did not think of ANY of this until after the fact. These stories did not ring in my mind, giving me courage and patience. But I can see it now.
This is all a little unexpected to me and my slow heart. This is not to say that I did not think about teaching more music for instance. Honestly, I kind of degraded the idea. It was not on my list, and a music teaching business would be too hard and time-consuming for my lazy hands to figure out and get going.
Yet, now that it’s going, along with the other teaching and shop time, I have found unexpected refreshments from God. My heart has been hungry for it, but I was unwilling to allow God to provide in this way. My plan was all to “right” for me to consider anything else.
What have you had to give up in order to follow God into personally uncharted territory? Will you let Him refresh you in His time and in His way?