There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot…
Eccl. chapter 3
They also serve who only stand and wait.– John Milton
Our spiritual lives are cyclical, or seasonal. We move in and out of seasons that take us through various experiences and different theologies and thinking. There have been times when all I could think was about ‘evangelism’. Than I went through a period when ‘teaching’ was everything. Morning, noon and night. Teach, teach, teach. I have walked through seasons of prayer; and parenthood or work issues.
There are many dozens of these spiritual excursions. Each season brings us something neat. And demanding. There will be unique concerns around each place you visit. Jesus, who is in charge of turning us into disciples, has itineraries and dossiers on each one of us. He knows the lessons we have already undertaken. He is going to teach us our next unit.
Sometimes what it is, is a lot of scariness, anxiety and work. I’ve heard it said, more then once that Jesus is more concerned with our character than our comfort. His followers have had to traverse some nasty terrain. They’ve had some ugly falls, and blisters and ‘charley horses’. He did not ‘issue’ them shoes with wings.
Let’s be honest–I am currently in a season of illness and pain. It’s funny, I have been in ministry over 20 years. I sit in this classroom and it is the hardest thing I have ever done. Remember, staring at the clock, using your secret powers in order to make the bell to ring sooner? That’s me, right now.
When we live in spiritual seasons, we are amazed how quickly they change from one to another. Very little remains the same. And, if you’re dealing with mental illness things are usually more fragmented. My Bipolar turns me into a liquid. I float over there and then over here. From moment-to-moment I can be anywhere. I am unstable. This makes things problematic, but not impossible.
This particular season I have been put on the shelf. For the most part, I’m in the dark, I’m on the bottom, pushed to the back and I wait. I know He hasn’t forgotten me. Over the years, I have observed this and I do have a general idea of ‘how it works’. But God is faithful, if not patient. That blesses me, and infuriates me, at the same time.
I came across a quote by John Milton, and it has been solace for me for months. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” I am assured that I have not escaped my Master’s heart.
Below are the lyrics from Larry Norman (and an CCM artist by the name of Honeytree). Look for them, or this song on YouTube.
I Am a Servant
I am a servant, I am listening for my name,
I sit here waiting, I’ve been looking at the game
That I’ve been playing, and I’ve been staying much the same
When you are lonely, you’re the only one to blame.
I am a servant, I am waiting for the call,
I’ve been unfaithful, so I sit here in the hall.
How can you use me when I’ve never given all,
How can you choose me when you know I’d quickly fall.
So you feed my soul and you make me grow,
And you let me know you love me.
And I’m worthless now, but I’ve made a vow,
I will humbly bow before thee.
O please use me, I am lonely.
I am a servant getting ready for my part,
There’s been a change, a rearrangement in my heart.
At last I’m learning, there’s no returning once I start.
To live’s a privilege, to love is such an art
But I need your help to start,
O please purify my heart, I am your servant.
And I can’t say anything else. B