Saturday, April 7, 2007

Retreat Woes

In our recent church family retreat, I had to sing back-up for the five major worship time slots, in addition to translating twice for another church’s camp, in addition to counselling a young child or two, in addition to socializing more with the people of our church. It was a full, full schedule. Take note of the fact that I was among the retreat’s youngest official officers (people with their names in the handbook), and the list seems more impressive.

People have always taken me for a ministerial prodigy who is multi-talented and extremely capable. Over the years, I have enjoyed that image, and I went to our retreat this year with a desire to prove myself to truly be a young ministry “supergirl.” After all, I had my schedule and age as evidence.

Yet once more, I was wrong.

In reference to my previous post, I did serve the Lord with thanksgiving. And I also felt humbled to be used by Him time and again. However, I was thankful and humble with the wrong goal in mind. Instead of delighting in the fact that God could use me for His glory, I was excited to use God’s work in this retreat to add another building block to my reputation. Instead of desiring my efforts to prove how wonderful He is, I awaited the product of my “service” to prove my ability.

God’s rod struck me again. This time, it did not strike in an area as obvious to the eye as physical frailty…it struck me on my weakest, most girlish, most childish place—my heart.

I do not wish to go into details. Suffice it to say that many unpretty, painful emotions that I thought I had long overcome came flooding over me again during those hours of the retreat. It was horrible, facing a tight schedule and a throbbing heart simultaneously. I had enough strength to fulfill my duties, but with so much pain that I had to constantly cry out to the Lord for help. Well, I guess that’s what He wanted to have happen.

It is one thing to rely on the Lord’s power for His glory, entirely another to abuse it for one’s own acclaim. God had to give me some spanking before I remembered that.

They were painful to undergo, but those emotional struggles successfully reminded me that I was merely a “child of weakness” in God’s eyes who would fail in any attempt to glorify herself. Thus now, looking back, I thank God for those pains, piercing as they were during their peak. The Chinese say that “Good medicine is bitter to the mouth.” I thank God for that bitter medicine, knowing that it was a good and timely medication for me.

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