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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, December 28, 2002

Exhausted, but not done

By Elaine Masters
First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu

A few mornings ago, I sat on my lanai with Bible in hand, enjoying the cool air of our "winter" and relaxing when it hit me: "NO TIME FOR BURNOUT"

This is burnout time for many Christians. Pastors have done extra holiday preaching. Choir directors and singers have prepared wondrous musical offerings.

Sunday School teachers have rehearsed keiki pageants. Now we have the big letdown. We're tired. What did we accomplish? Some of us are saying, "Never again. This was just too much. Next year, someone else can do it."

Recently, I was going through something akin to burnout. I sat on the lanai with Bible in hand, enjoying the cool of winter, talking story with God. I had a tremendous peace, a wonderful feeling of fulfillment. Teams from our church were continuing a ministry that had captured my heart for 25 years. My writing project about that ministry was complete. Additionally, my new children's book was being read all over Hawai'i. I was thankful my work was done. At last, I could revel in companionable silence with my old friend, put my feet up and relax.

Then I opened the Bible to Hebrews Chapter 12 and read, "Take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong."

Oh? That scripture evidently was a prophecy, because at our next missions meeting our chairperson said, "Elaine, we really need your help. You may think you're finished with this project, but we're not finished with you. We need for you to organize another team."

A recent Internet message flashed across my mind, "Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big."

I realized that God has no retirement plan. No Social Security, no 401(k). We find our rest, our provision, our joy in serving him.

Was I still needed? I thought about folks I know who are living in despair, people who have never felt the peace beyond the understanding that floods us when we cast our anxieties on God, trusting him to take care of things.

I thought of other folks who are hoping to do enough good deeds to counterbalance their bad ones so they will go to heaven. If I ask them if they think they're going to heaven, they say, "I hope so," or "Who, me? Not with all the stuff I've done." I can relate to them, too. It's difficult to accept that Christ's death and resurrection took care of all that and we just have to ask.

Our pastor told us about an experience at the post office. When the counter clerk asked a patron if she'd like the Christmas Madonna and Child stamps, the woman was incensed. "Now, why would they put that tramp singer and her kid on a Christmas stamp?" she asked.

She had no background to inform her that the Madonna in question was Mary and that the baby was Jesus. So much for retirement. So much for burnout. There's a whole world needing God's peace and hope.

Let's take a new grip with our tired hands. Let's get on our knees, then roll up our sleeves. God's not done with us yet.

Elaine Masters is a member of the missions team at First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu and a writer. Her latest book is "Lullaby Moon."