“Why am I burned out on something I used to love doing? Working for the church was my passion. My heart was called to this ministry – now it’s drudgery.” Frustration oozed from Melissa’s mouth as she hung her head in shame.
“Are you working for the church or for Jesus, the head of the church?” Her friend Angela asked gently, laying her hand on Melissa’s arm.
Melissa’s head snapped up, her eyes blazing. Anger colored her face a bright red. “What are you talking about? You know I started this ministry for the church because I felt a call on my life – and you dare ask me who I’m working for?”
Angela looked at Melissa, compassion etching her face with concern. “I was wondering if you got so caught up in what you’re doing; pushing, pushing, pushing all the time, that you lost sight of the fact that all our work is be as to the Lord, not as to men.”
Melissa sat the cup of tea she’d been sipping down hard on the coffee table and rose from the couch. “I don’t need to stay here in and listen to this! I’m leaving.” She grabbed her purse and coat from the chair by the door and rushed out, slamming the door behind her.
Angela sat where she was, stunned. What had happened to her friend? She got up off the couch and knelt on the carpeted floor, her head now resting on her folded arms atop the couch. Angela prayed earnestly for her friend for a long time.
As Melissa sped down the road, her eyes filled with tears. Oh God what’s happening to me? Blinded by the tears coursing down her cheeks, Melissa found a place to safely pull off the road. She leaned back in the seat, groaning. How could I have treated Angela that way? My dearest friend... oh God! Sobs erupted from deep within. She sat on the side of the road crying for what seemed hours. Her heart letting go of the pent up frustration she had felt for months.
Her sobs subsiding, Melissa turned her heart to God. God I’m ready to listen now. What do you have to say to my heart?
His immediate words to her soul shook her to the core of her being. Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (ii)
As Melissa pondered these words, understanding began to dawn like a brilliant sunrise on the shores of her storm tossed heart. “Lord,” she whispered. “I have been trying on my own, haven’t I? All this work for the church has been by my own efforts. I’ve forgotten what it is to rest you in you. I have not come to you for a long time – to read your word, to pray... nothing. What you’re telling me is that simple... Come – I who have labored and become heavy laden with the weight of it. All I need to do is come to you and I will receive your promised rest.”
Tears of cleansing came. Melissa wiped her eyes, and when traffic allowed, turned her car back in the direction of Angela’s house.
Seeing Melissa’s face, Angela knew a change had taken place. Melissa’s face was glowing.
“Angela, I’m so sorry for the way I behaved. I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
“I forgive you, Melissa. Wanna tell me what happened?”
Melissa told Angela her story and as she did Angela’s eyes grew wide with astonishment and delight. “Oh Melissa,” she said. “I just finished praying for you before you came back. I had been praying that very thing for you. That you would see your need to come to Christ and rest in Him as you work for the church.”
“You had?” Melissa asked, incredulity filling her voice. “Wow. God is so good, isn’t He? Oh, Ang – I had no idea I had gotten so far off track. It took my outburst and the anger I felt to open my eyes to the truth of what I had become. Thank you, dear friend for being bold to speak the truth to me in love.”
“You’re welcome.” She wrapped her arms around Melissa in a gracious embrace. They then moved on into the house to enjoy another cup of tea. Sipping their tea, they talked about what working for the church under the restful yoke of Christ meant. In this their hearts rejoiced and filled with renewed vigor.
(i) Colossians 3:23
(ii) Matthew 11:28
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