Do you have “doing sickness”?

(This post by me was first published at www.seedbed.com.)

She was not a fence-sitter. This was someone who knew how to make things happen. A solid church leader steeped in safe theology and good manners.

And then, the Holy Spirit got hold of her.

It happened when leaders of our church began to wrestle with how their own spiritual health might be affecting the community.* We were learning new things about the connection between emotional and spiritual health and this one leader was particularly impacted. Seeing how her emotional maturity could impact (for better or worse) not just her spiritual life but the progress of others sent her on a journey that both awakened and unnerved her.

Because she was the kind of leader who didn’t back down from a challenge, she got honest with God and herself. She diagnosed herself with “doing sickness.” She could make things happen, but was all that activity Spirit-led? The cure meant submitting to the Holy Spirit’s work in her life but that was scary. What if this change disappointed those who had come to depend on her ability to “do”?

One day she marched into my office and with both frustration and surrender in her expression, asked, “Will you be okay with me if I come to the end of this and am a different person?” I thought it was a profound question. After all, she’d been central to some progress we were making as a church. She was doing big things with small groups, developing teams and shaking up our approach to newcomers. I loved her ability to “do.”

But now that the Holy Spirit had gotten hold of her, well … what if she changed? And what if those changes led her out of the work she was doing and into places we couldn’t predict? What if the Holy Spirit convinced her to be still? Would she still be needed? Would we still like her?

It was as if she were standing by a pool holding a rock, her hand hovering over the water. The rock was a crisis of belief that moved her to the threshold of transformation. At this stage, she found herself asking, “What has to change in my life if I am going to go with God?” Because here’s the thing. Once that rock hits the water, ripples happen and we don’t get to control the ripples. This decision to be led by the Spirit is a choice to release control.

This is what it means to be sanctified. Sanctification is about allowing the Holy Spirit to lead as He flows through us, energizing our journey with Jesus. When we submit to being filled, we become part of a movement that cannot be contained and it begins with the question, “What has to change if I am going to go with God?” Am I even willing to let change happen? And if I change, will I be okay with that? Will the people around me be okay with it? Will I be okay with it even if they aren’t?

Sanctification is messy! In our community of faith, we are discovering that we get to control almost nothing in this process. We are being led places we didn’t think we wanted to go. We find ourselves building arks under sunny skies, trusting in what we don’t yet see.

But sanctification is also joyful. As it turns out, I not only like that leader who has allowed the Holy Spirit more access to her life, I like her more. She is still doing great things among our people, but I’m noticing that now her activity comes from a different motivation, a more peaceful and impassioned place. She is slowly but surely being released from the tyranny of “shoulds” and “oughts” and there is a great joy in that release.

Sanctification brings freedom. Freedom from “doing sickness.” Freedom from “pleasing others sickness.” Freedom from the need to air-brush our lives into some socially-accepted image. The Spirit-led life offers such freedom to live headlong into the values of God, to create ripples and flow in His river.

I am convinced this “flow” into the Spirit-led life is the difference between going to church and going with God. After all, it is one thing to believe. That we can control and even choose to keep to ourselves. But it is only as our rocks hit the water, as we choose transformation and let the ripples happen, that our stories begin to flow into God’s story.

What needs to change in your life if you are going to go with God? May you be filled with a holy discontent and a desire to flow in the river of God.

 

*For more on the connection between emotional and spiritual health, visit www.emotionallyhealthy.org, a ministry created by Peter Scazzero, the pastor of New Life Church in Queens, NY.

Carolyn Moore

I follow Jesus within the communities of Mosaic Church, Asbury Seminary and the Moore household.

3 thoughts on “Do you have “doing sickness”?

  1. thanks for another great article! truly wise words — there is so much freedom in just stopping for awhile. in the last year everything that i was is over. because my mom died, i’m no one’s little girl anymore. because my children are grown, i’m not a mommy. because i lost my job, i’m not a teacher. all those things that made up my “identity” are gone. i knew it was coming, so it’s not a big shock, but it has been a big change. for the first time in decades, i’m back to square one — trying to figure out who i am and what, if anything, God wants me to be or do. God allowed me some time to prepare for this circumstance so i have spent a lot of time praying that here at what is either the last quarter (or halftime if i inherited any long life genes!) i won’t miss as many opportunities as i did the first time around, that i won’t make as many bad decisions, that i will listen more, be afraid less and actually obey once in awhile. i’d like to make better use of any second (third, forth…) chances God sends to bless me. i have consciously made the decision to pursue nothing and just wait. i told God as much, that i didn’t want to look for anything to fill my time because i wanted to be ready if he wanted something from me. so far he doesn’t. i have been called to do absolutely nothing. i feel like i’m on a journey of waiting, and my response to that is “thanks for nothin’.” i’m not a good waiter, i have no capacity to “be still and know…” i get bored, mean and angry when i don’t have enough toys to play with. and i am good at stuff, to hang me on a shelf for whatever time i have left to be willing and able is a waste. thanks for nothin’. but because i prayed in anticipation of this season, this waiting has really not been half bad. turns out that “being still and knowing…” is actually a good thing. i am more content in this time of nothing than i have been in more years than i can remember. i miss being someone’s baby, letting go of the mom job is hard and i find myself craving a lesson plan every now and then, but somehow all of those holes are filling up with the peace of waiting. holy rest. i don’t know if God will ever call me to DO anything again. but i’m ok with being called just to BE. and i’m enjoying waking up each day with the praise of “thanks for nothin’!” there really is freedom in letting go.

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