I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12
Over the last few years, my plate has been very full. Not only do I work full time, write on the side and have many hobbies, but I practically worked another full time job at church. I gradually accumulated a lot of ministries and as I took on each thing, reasoned that either they were just once a month or it was something I was gifted at doing. I loved all of the opportunities for service and felt like each one was significant and important. By this year, I knew I was doing too much. But, what to give up? I asked God to help me and over the last few months, many times without me asking for help, others volunteered to take them over. I think it is a sign that God agrees with me about cutting back, but why? I know it was not coincidence that everything ended about the same time. What would the next season of my life bring? As I prayed about it, I realized He was telling me what not to do. He wanted me to take a year off from all the stuff I do for Him and just spend time with Him. As of August 15, I am on a year’s “sabbatical.” In that short time, several opportunities for service have already presented themselves, but I keep reminding myself that those are things I can do next year. I told husband that I want to go from being like birdshot in my ministry approach and be like a bullet. A single shot full of purpose and on target. Now, I spend the time I would be serving or meeting in Bible Study, prayer and reading some Christian books which not surprisingly, though I did not know it when I started them, all have the same theme, finding satisfaction in God alone. The first book I read, True Spirituality by Chip Ingram encouraged me to memorize Romans 12. Ingram goes through that chapter line by line showing how it gives explicit instructions for how we are to live our lives. (An interesting thing I learned is that the verse referring to heaping coals on their head comes from an ancient Egyptian tradition of signifying repentance by carrying a pan of hot coals on one’s head. It does not mean that we will judge and condemn those who do evil, but that our example of Christlike love and humility will lead them to repentance). Another one, Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeust talked about how our cravings feed our soul and reveal who or what we follow. Whether it is food, television, books, media, physical fitness or any other things that can control our life, overdoing and overindulging, even good things, leads to sin. On the first day of our vacation, I wrote the following, “I am overeating, overspending, overdoing and overwhelmed. I am underserving, underloving, underappreciating and underexpecting.” I pray that this time next year, in God’s power, that will no longer be true.