Unfortunately, last week, I recognized another character in my life, and it was not one I would have ever imagined. Allow me to set the scene. The past several months have been rough on my family. There has been illness. There have been financial difficulties. We've faced many trials and many heartaches. And frankly, I'm tired. So tired, in fact, that I was just ready to set everything else aside and focus on me. I need rest to heal my body. I need time to calm my nerves. I need a break from the chaos that is my life. So, I begged God to take away some of my responsibilities. Blogging. My church responsibilities. Teaching. Even writing. At my lowest point last week, I didn't care. I didn't particularly want to give up teaching or writing or even blogging, but I just felt like something had to go.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been praying and searching about what to give up. Honestly, I was hoping the Lord would take away my church responsibilities, mainly playing the piano. I know it may not seem like much, but if you knew how much time I spent preparing for church services, not to mention spending from 9:00 in the morning until 8:00 at night at church every Sunday in order to be part of Sunday School, morning service, Spanish service, choir practice and evening service, you'd probably understand why this would be a big deal. Giving up my piano responsibilities alone would free up a lot of time and greatly reduce my stress level, not to mention the relief it would give my aching shoulder. So, I begged and pleaded for God to excuse me from at least this one thing.
Here's the catch, though. This was not the first time I've asked God to let me out of my responsibility of playing the piano at church. It was more like the third or fourth. And every time before, God's answer has been a resounding, "No." He acknowledged that I didn't feel comfortable or competent in my position as church pianist. He accepted that the task added more time to my already full schedule and taxed me physically and emotionally. But, as He did with Paul, He assured me that His grace would be sufficient and that I should stop thinking of the task as duty and start thinking of it as another way to worship Him. And for a while, I got it, and I accepted God's will. But when I got tired and started to feel overwhelmed by all the demands on my time and energy, I found myself going back to God and asking again. "God, are you sure you want me to do this? Are you positive I can't give this up? Please let me pass this role on to someone else."
As I prayed and meditated on my request last week, a horrible thought passed through my brain, and I couldn't help but cringe at the comparison. I sounded just like Balaam! Remember Balaam and his talking donkey? At the beginning of his tale, Balaam asks the Lord for permission to consort with the king of the enemy of Israel. Understandably, the Lord tells him, "No." But when the king comes calling on Balaam again, the prophet goes back to God and asks him again, at which point God told him, "Fine, go." But when Balaam leaves to meet the enemy king, the Bible says that the Lord's anger was kindled against the prophet. Why? Because He had already given Balaam a clear answer, but Balaam wasn't satisfied with that answer and came begging again. When God told him, "Fine, go," I believe it was a test to see if Balaam would honor God's initial wishes or give in to his own desires. Balaam failed the test. And last week, so did I.
God has given me an answer concerning my responsibilities at church, and I have to believe that when/if it's time for me to move on, He'll let me know. I won't have to beg. Until then, I need to remember that He has given me another opportunity to serve Him, another way to worship Him, and if I'll keep that perspective, maybe I won't feel so overwhelmed and stressed. Besides, of all the Biblical characters I would love to emulate, Balaam is certainly not among them!
Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess. - Deuteronomy 5:33