It was clear to me that 2013 was going to be split in quarters for me. It was pretty obvious when I chased the 13th tangible goal. The end of that story and the beginning of new one—to serve with utmost obedience and joy—started at the start of April. I found myself more involved with church—whether that be a small group (two, actually), a feeding ministry, our normal Young Adults group, a leadership group, a morning prayer team that met twice a week, or just serving communion on Sundays. I was doing a lot. I knew this would happen when I stuck to my decision to not say “no” to anyone who asks for help. I would definitely have to say that I have successfully crossed out tangible goal #5 because of that.
As tired as I was participating in all of these different groups and ministries as well as balancing a full time job, I knew burn out was just around the corner. Many of my own peers constantly reminded me of this. Burn out from ministry happened to me before1, and I knew at this rate it will happen again. But every single time I would pray about it—whether or not I should step back from one or two (or even most) ministries, every being of me told me that I am to endure it through at this time. I would not only endure, but I need to do so with a renewed joy and happiness from within. I am to always look to God for rest and the energy I needed. The energy I needed to keep going wasn’t mine, and I knew I could do what I was doing because He called me to do so. The things I did was out of love for my God—in complete obedience. I just knew the end of this kind of participation—which I always referred to as my “outward growth” phase—was going to come again at the end of the September. I had this feeling when I took a co-leader position for Muffin Ministry.
But that time was always a bit arbitrary in my head. I knew there were a number of people that I met at Newsong that were going to leave. They were off to find new work. They were going to graduate school. Everyone called it a “new season” in life—in both individuals and community groups. I hoped that time would also be mine. During my time with God, I would always ask if this season is coming to an end, and if so what is the next season supposed to be like. I find myself seeing hints of “inward growth”. I didn’t quite understand what that was supposed to be. I didn’t understand why I would go back to that because I felt that’s what I was doing for the past two years before I came down to Irvine—self discovery and seeking out the uniqueness of who He’s made me to be.
It wasn’t until the third quarter when God blessed me with a very unexpected and beautiful relationship. It was nearing the end of that quarter what I knew He’s called me to. And honestly, it really solidified this idea after my girlfriend left for Spain.2
And really, this next season of my life—at least until mid-2014 if not longer—is centered around what Paul wrote to the Galatians:
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”
- The Apostle Paul, Galatians 5:16-26 NLT
My focus is the fruit of the Spirit. We do not grow the fruit. Only the Holy Spirit will grow the fruit. We are no different than a farmer preparing the land to allow God to do His good work in us to let us grow into the Christ-like being we were designed for. It is in that I am to put my focus and energy. And I can honestly say that things will get harder and harder as I get closer to where He wants me to be. This is not to say that when I am finished with this season I will be the Christian follower I sought out for. No. But I feel I will reach a new level of understanding of God’s love for me and drive and passion to love others.
And there’s one thing extremely important about growth in the Spirit. The fruit that Paul writes about is its singular form. The fruit of the Spirit is all these things Paul wrote about: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness, and self-control. It’s all these things that will grow together. The fruit concatenates all these things and the true work of the Holy Spirit in us will grow this fruit at once.
At the time of this writing, I find myself impatient. In my search to condition my patience, I cannot do so in a vacuum. I have to take in the other entities Paul writes about as I gain more patience. I do not do these things on my own. I have to ask the Spirit to work in me. That I do so with the faithfulness He has called me to have. That I may have patience and act out of love, kindness, and gentleness. From that I have an authentic outwardly appearance of joy and goodness. And in that the Spirit continues to grow that I may have peace and complete self-control over the situation that God has placed me so I may grow and serve for His purpose.
It’s only been a month. Every week with every day brings something new to test my endurance. I am already growing weary. Just like I did before in the first three quarters of this year, I must look to God for rest and energy. With Him I can do all things.
- I graduated from APU with a BA in Christian Ministry. My last year I needed to be an intern at a church. I interned at my home church at WVCC in Northridge—which was a 100 mile round trip drive. I needed to be out there three times a week. I was so burnt out of doing ministry, I knew I didn’t have the passion or drive to become a professional minister. I backed down from the prospects of doing ministry full time ever since. It’s taken me close to 8 years to get back into any kind of ministry at a church. Burn out is seriously bad. [↩]
- At the time of this writing, I still haven’t written this story. But in a nutshell, we did decide to do a long distance relationship. This is something I have never done before and am still scared how to this properly without being an idiot or just straight out losing her. She’ll be gone until next summer. [↩]