Are you active in your church? Are you active in several ministries? Are you active in Cursillo, Walk to Emmaus, Kairos or other ministries? If you are this message is especially important to you. All of us from time to time grow tired. This past weekend was one of those times for me. I had long planned to attend a Cursillo event being held in Charlotte, NC. It was the Cursillo Region 7 Spring Encounter. This event was scheduled to begin on Friday evening and conclude late on Saturday. In addition to simply attending the event I was on the team that had prepared this event and my wife was heading up the kitchen crew and responsible for the meals for two days for all the attendees. Around 200 people from all over the Southeastern United States planned to attend this event.
Ihave been traveling non-stop in recent months, I had given several talks to various Christian groups, I had recently traveled to and from Ohio to lead a four hour retreat for a wonderful group of woman, I have been researching, preparing and writing these letters each week and now that it is springtime in the mountains my allergies have kicked into full gear and I was sneezing, wheezing, and dealing with itchy eyes and a runny nose and in general just worn out. All of my Christian activities were good things but I was just tired. I wanted to go to Charlotte for the meeting but I decided that I just needed some down time. And for those of you, like me, that truly enjoy giving back to God’s church, it is hard to just say no sometimes.
Anyhow you get the point I was tired. I know each of you reading this get tied too. Our work, careers, families, marriage, hobbies, and yes our church and Christian outreach activities can make us overwhelmed and exhausted. What do you do when you are tired, that is the question? Well I made the decision not to go to the meeting. My wife supported my decision even though she had to be there and encouraged me to just have a relaxing two days. I called the appropriate people in charge to let them know that I would not be there.
Okay, so now that I had two days, Friday and Saturday home alone, how was I going to deal with my tiredness and fatigue? Often times when I have been exhausted I would make plans to do nothing. Instead I chose to make these two days quiet times of reflection and prayer.
Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
All of us who are active Christians and involved in many ministries need some alone time with Our Lord. There are six different passages in the Bible when even Jesus needed time away. He was fond of going to the mountains, and when alone in the mountains what did Jesus do? He prayed. Too often when we are tired we just look for time away, we plan a getaway weekend but we forget the most important part, prayer. I am blessed to live in the mountains and I had two days alone so I did what Jesus did, I prayed.
Recall that on perhaps one of the most important days in history and clearly one of the most important events in Christianity, the agony in the garden, what the apostles did? They fell asleep. When Jesus returned and found them asleep what did he say to them?
“He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.” Luke 22:46
Jesus was telling them and us that it is at those times when we are tired and exhausted that Satan can find us vulnerable. It is also at these times that in order to become refreshed we need to hand over “our burdens” to him, and He will lighten our load.
We have read that the Apostles became tired and we have read that Jesus himself became tired. Jesus found rest in prayer by turning all that was on His plate over to the Father. We can learn from Jesus that when He was tired His rest did not come from doing nothing but from taking His concerns to His Father in quiet and prayer. Jesus sometimes even spent all night awake and in prayer in order to regain his energy. This is simply counterintuitive to what we think we need when tired. Our real rest comes by spending time with God. It has been said that the more tired we are the more we need to pray. If at these times, we try to make it a go without Him, we simply remain exhausted.
Sometimes, it is actually our pride that gets in our way. We try to tell ourselves that whatever ministry we are involved in just won’t make it without us. Actually at times like this our ministries need our prayers more than they need us. This Cursillo event turned out just fine without me there and when you are tired and need time away in prayer your ministries will do just fine in your absence as well.
Let me share an analogy comparing high performance Indy race cars to our work in our Christian ministries. If those Indy cars are going to finish the race they MUST have scheduled pit stops. They must refuel, change tires and clean their masks to see more clearly. I took a two day pit stop. On Friday I relaxed outside and read some good Christian books, and then on Saturday I went to Reconciliation which for me as I have written about is my Spiritual Car Wash. Then following Reconciliation I attended mass and received communion which is the “fuel for my Christian engine.” Immediately after this spiritual pit stop for reconciliation and communion I felt refreshed and thoughts poured into my mind for next week’s 4thdayletter on “Discipleship”.
I want to thank my wife and all the men and woman that made this past weekend’s Encounter a success and for allowing me some time away. I want to encourage all of you who are involved in ministries especially the priests, ministers, pastors, deacons, and nuns who give so much of themselves to the rest of us to make time for your spiritual pit stop. You can’t “find” time; you must “make” time in your schedule for quiet time with Jesus in prayer.
Lord when I am weary and tired; help me to always come to you to be refreshed. St. Paul has told us Lord that if we are in you, we will be made a new creation. You never fail us Lord, when we turn to you the old is gone and the new is created and refreshed. In and with you Lord, through your grace we are ready to follow your call. Amen.