A few weeks ago I was having a breakdown. I don't remember all the details of what brought it on, which means it was probably one of those situations where multiple little things pile up on top of too little sleep and too many tasks and you just FEEL like you're going to break.
I remember it well because I woke up on a Tuesday morning completely overwhelmed and really didn't want to go to the Bible Study I've been enjoying on Tuesday mornings for almost five years. I just knew that if I stayed home that morning I'd get everything done in the several hours I would have been at Bible Study. Isn't it interesting how Satan tries to get us to believe that the only way to get on top of our schedule is by skipping the very things we NEED and are COMMANDED to do (quiet time, prayer, Bible Study, fellowship with other believers in church, ministry, etc.)?
So, somewhere between my unmade bed and my unwashed hair getting thrown into a ponytail, I decided to just go on to Bible Study. And would you believe I got the greatest blessing of the whole semester?! I showed up a few minutes late and only a few other ladies were there. Three others, to be precise. And these three women all happen to have grown children around my age and grand-children ranging in age from a few months to 15 years old. Jackpot! I sat down, and when they asked for my prayer request, I shared. And they counseled and advised and talked about their own experience and I was completely poured into. And then they prayed for me too.
It reminded me of Titus 2:3-5 "...teach the older women...then they can train the younger women..."
Isn't God good to set up such a great system for caring for His girls within His body? Others should be pouring into us. If they aren't, we need to find ways to LET THEM. Perhaps we need to be more teachable, or maybe we need to be more willing to admit need and ask for help. Maybe we need to pick up a good book (Elisabeth Elliot and Beth Moore have made profound impacts on my life and taught me so much, and I've never even met them. I've just read lots of their books.). In whatever way God leads, we NEED to be taught by older women. This is Biblical and important.
And then, we need to be pouring into and teaching younger women ourselves. Each of us is older than someone, and that someone needs our encouragement. We must be looking for ways to model Christ to those coming after us. We must look for ways to teach and disciple other women and girls who are younger in their faith than we are.
I was recently challenged by I Thessalonians 2:8 "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." (NIV84)
Paul and his ministry partners (specifically Timothy and Silas here) loved the people they were ministering to so much that they shared their entire lives with them. They didn't just give them the gospel or a quick Bible lesson or a 12-week discipleship class. They gave them their lives.
This is huge. I think we all know that ministry can be exhausting and tiring and sometimes we just want our little private corner. We want to have some downtime and just get away. But Christ's example was to serve and give and share life and pour out constantly. The times when He did steal away and get alone, it was for prayer. I think we get it all wrong and think that we need alone time or downtime for our own selfish purposes and pleasures. In reality, our downtime should be used to refuel and replenish so that we can go back out and serve. So that we can "share...not only the gospel of God but our lives as well".
Lord, help us to be faithful in sharing our lives with everyone You allow us to influence! Let them hear, see and experience the gospel through us.
Here's one sweet group of girls God has brought into my life right now...my middle school Sunday School class (and a few extra friends in this picture). I am praying that God will help me pour into them, and that they will turn around and pour into younger girls as well! The beautiful part of this illustration is that several of these girls help teach the children's ministries that my own children are in!
Wait! I just realized something even cooler! One of the girls pictured above, who helps with the children's church activities my children attend, is also the grand-daughter of one of the sweet ladies I mentioned earlier who encouraged me at Bible Study a few weeks ago! So look at that ministry link: a grandmother teaches me, I teach her grandchild in Sunday School, her grandchild teaches my child in kids' church....talk about passing it on! Only God could make something like that work out so beautifully! Let's get on board with His plan!