Happy Sunday everybody! Today is the first day of a very exciting and full week ahead: tomorrow, I am leading a trip of youth and families from our church to an inflatables/trampoline park, and leaving immediately after to drive to the Louisville, KY area for the CMConference along with one of our awesome Family Ministry team volunteers. I am super pumped for everything I’ll be able to learn and bring back to my ministry settings. I have a related exciting announcement, which I’ll announce later today, so stay tuned!
Last week, on Psalm Sunday #1, I talked about my spiritual practices, specifically about the spiritual practice of scripture reading and how I’m trying to do better in that area. To this end, I am currently working on two different long-term Bible reading plans, complemented by Bible studies and devotionals. On Saturdays, I’m reading through the New Testament. Today, I’m talking about my study on the Psalms and Proverbs. Alongside this YouVersion study, I am reading Tim and Kathy Keller’s one-year devotional on the Psalms, The Songs of Jesus.
A regular theme of the Psalms is how God is a God of sustenance: our God sustains us: God helps us sleep, and helps us rise to meet each new day. Psalm 3:5-6 reads, “I lie down, sleep, and wake up because the Lord helps me. I won’t be afraid of thousands of people surrounding me on all sides.”
In their book The Psalms of Jesus, Timothy and Kathy Keller write, regarding this verse, “”God is the only one who sustains you, whether an army is pursuing you or you are at home in your own bed. God sustains every breath you take.”
“Sustainable” is obviously a big buzzword right now: sustainable agriculture, sustainable living, many things related to living an environmental lifestyle. But sustainability extends far outside of that realm, too. “Sustainable” is defined as “able to be maintained at a certain level; able to be upheld or defended.” My masters thesis for my Masters of Divinity with a specialisation in Youth and Young Adult Ministry, which I received from Methodist Theological School in Ohio, was written on sustainable faith formation in a postmodern world. The main idea was exploring ideas about how churches can foster faith development in children and youth that lasts into adulthood.
Being sustained is one of my strongest desires right now in my ministry and life. I have been in Newark for just over a year now, and want to stay here as long as I continue to feel called to the ministry and life we have here. Staying in something for the long haul requires lots of sustenance, sustenance I know I cannot provide by myself. Ministry, like any profession, holds its shares of challenges. These are not made any easier, and in fact are further complicated, by the demands of motherhood, chronic illness, and the other roles and responsibilities of my life.
Something I remind myself regularly–and that some of the dearest people in my life are constantly reminding me of–is that the best, most worthwhile things in life are frequently the hardest. Long-term, fruitful ministry; a long, happy marriage; raising a happy, well-equipped-for-the-world child; pursuing my writing dreams; cultivating wellness despite chronic illness so I can continue living out my calls in all these other areas: none of these things are easy. But God does not promise easy: God promises sustaining. With God, I never have to carry any of this life, any of these responsibilities, on my own. God helps me lie down, sleep, and wake up to each new day with God’s own helping hand.
I want to close this post with this powerful prayer from the Keller’s devotional:
“Lord and Savior, I am facing so many troubles, some of my own making. But I can hold my head up because I am your child and servant. So be my shield—protect me. And be my glory—give me confidence that you are with me and will bring me through this. Help me! Amen.” (4)
Beloved reader, as you go throughout this week, despite whatever your troubles might be, hold your head up high. God has more than enough strength to sustain you and bring you through this.