By Kristin B. Sizemore
The journey to this moment, my first blog post, began in December of last year (2016). Honestly, the thought of blogging had crossed my mind hundreds of times. I had always loved to write and thought that a blog would allow me an outlet, while hopefully helping others at the same time. It was an idea I carried around in my back pocket. When I felt lost or unfulfilled, I would pull it out, only to meet a different barrier each time. I was too overwhelmed to be creative. I didn’t have time. I didn’t have the money. As time progressed, I thought more and more about launching a blog. Still, those barriers would pop up. Just like that, I would slip my idea back into my pocket and trudge ahead. Until last December.
Christmas had come and gone. My husband was away on his annual fishing trip. We were approaching Jonathan’s one year anniversary of pastorate work. We had worked for years in his roles as Youth Pastor and then Associate Pastor. But as the lead Pastor, for the past year, all responsibilities had rested firmly on our shoulders alone. It had been a stressful year. The load was heavy and we were overwhelmed. When Jonathan stepped into his new role, there was trouble in the church. He had to take the lead in the middle of a crisis. We came through, but there was fallout to deal with. Jonathan had contracted the shingles, which by this time had reoccurred twice. My few gray hairs had multiplied and, like a plague, overtook my entire hair line. Jonathan is 34 and I am 35. I sat in my office and reflected on the past year. The kids were settled and quiet, so my natural inclination was to get some things done. I looked at my “To Do” lists. I had approximately 10. They were taped across the shelving above my computer: a list for general church duties, for my Sunday School class, for the Wednesday Night Youth Program curriculum, for the Youth Group, for tracking what I didn’t want to slip through the cracks with my own kids, for work, for home, and on and on. I updated the lists weekly. It was the only way I felt I could keep everything caught up. As I sat there, alone, trying to decide which list to tackle, I began to weep. I wept and wept. It was a major meltdown that had been a long time coming.
When my dramatic meltdown calmed to a cry, I heard a familiar still, small voice. I’m not sure I can quote our conversation verbatim, but the Lord and I had a talk that went something like this…
“How can you help anyone like this? How can you minister in this condition?”
“I’m sorry, Lord. I’m so tired and overwhelmed. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m giving all that I have and it’s just not enough.”
“When is the last time you took some time and really prayed; not for the church, not for Jonathan’s ministry, just a conversation between me and you?”
“I don’t know, Lord. I can’t remember.”
“You love My Word. But, when is the last time that you read it just because you wanted to, just to learn more, instead of for a Sunday School lesson, or the Wednesday night curriculum, or to research for something ministry-related?”
“I don’t know, Lord. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to let that slip! I don’t know how to fit it all in.”
“Seek me first. Put our relationship first. If nothing else gets done, you have to talk to me, spend time with me, and read My Word.”
“I know, Lord. I’ll find a way.”
“These lists don’t matter if your personal relationship with me suffers. When the kids leave for school, give me some time. If you’ll focus on your relationship with me, I’ll help you. You can have a calmer life. You can write. If you’ll take your time and prepare and put me first, you can have your blog. It’s not too late for your dreams.”
“Yes, Lord. I will. I’m so sorry.”
I just sat there for a few minutes, humbled by the compassion of such an Almighty God. I could already feel the weight lifting. I could already feel hope for the future. I took down my lists and started working on them. I whittled them down to things I truly needed reminders for and then moved them out of my face to the bulletin board behind me. I could reference them when I needed to, but be free from obsessing over them every time I sat down. I started making my little office nook more fun, comfortable, relaxing, and more “me”. I dubbed it my “habitat”.
The very next day, I took some time to pray and really talk to the Lord. I started a daily reading schedule. If nothing else got accomplished, God got His time. As I kept up my end of our arrangement, God started to work. He guided me as I added some structure to our lives. He gave me the strength to say things like, “That’s too much.” Or “I can’t get that done right now.” Our life is still full, but so much calmer.
Since that day, there have been times when things got hectic and a few days would pass with effort on my part, but no real devotion of quality time. God, in His incredible mercy and love, would function in His role as refiner; correcting and molding. I would get back on track and see His hand at work. Most importantly, when I didn’t get my time with the Lord in, my heart would ache. I would miss Him. I wanted to be with Him. I needed Him.
It was during these times when I learned about myself what I had often seen in others: I was often guilty of allowing my calling to be turned against me. There’s a trap in ministry. It’s a trick the adversary started employing a long time ago and it often goes undetected. Your flesh will fall right into this trap if you aren’t watching for it. You can do all the good in the world, but wake up one day and realize that in spite of all your effort, your spiritual life isn’t growing or developing as it should. You may even realize you’ve gone backwards or let some distance creep in. Don’t get so busy working for the Lord that you lose your desire to seek Him. This is what happens to many people who used to function in ministry but now don’t serve the Lord at all. They lost track of the origin of their calling and ministry and allowed it to morph into a separate entity. We can never forget whom we serve and who called us in the first place. The moment we can’t hear His voice, our calling is unguided and ineffective. That’s when we become “the blind leading the blind”. Many are called, but we have to value our relationship with Him to be chosen.
So, that’s why I’m here. Yes, I want to help you in any way possible. From the bottom of my heart, I hope I can say something to encourage you or motivate you. Yes, I want to write. But most of all, I want to please the Lord. He saw my heart. He saw that I thought I was trying to do what He wanted. He saw that I was failing, not because I couldn’t check off enough boxes, but because I was neglecting the most important part: my relationship with Him. He knows me. He knows that I love His Word. He knows that I have a huge imagination and that His Word comes to life for me and always has. What could be more biblical than a covenant? It’s all so very “The Lord and Kristin”, this offer He extended to me. He offered me a covenant; not because I deserved it, not because of who I am, but because of who He is and because of His love for me. This blog is part of my blessing for obedience and I intend to reap every blessing that my sweet Lord offers me.