A Very Different Famine


By Britt Martin

We did it! We made it through Easter! We successfully (hopefully) created environments for our community to experience and celebrate the grace, love, forgiveness, hope, and peace found in the resurrection of Jesus.

Holy Week is always a wild week in the life of ministry leaders. This year, at my church, Holy Week came the week after a Spring Break Mission Trip and four weeks after a Disciple Now weekend. We had a youth local missions day on Good Friday, an Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, and a huge Easter Breakfast for Youth on Sunday morning. Now this week we dive right back into our regularly scheduled programming heading towards a busy summer. It’s so easy for me to find myself in these long crazy seasons of programming (some dictated by the church calendar, and some because of my poor planning) where it seems like there’s one big event after another and never ending to-do-lists on top of family demands and the everyday tasks life throws our way. It’s a little embarrassing, but sometimes when I find myself in these places I can’t remember the last time I prayed. I can’t remember the last time I read scripture for myself and not for a lesson I was going to teach teenagers. Sometimes when I find myself in these seasons I feel like a zombie just going through the motions. I feel like I’m under all sorts of pressure to create the perfect event that draws a high number of students that stays within budget. Sometimes that pressure feels crushing.

Have you been there? Maybe it’s just me (but I don’t think it is). In times like this it feels like my SOUL is experiencing a famine. It feels like all that matters are the things I produce. It’s in times like when (even though sometimes I don’t realize it) I’m in desperate need of Sabbath. I spent years thinking that Sabbath was just going to church or not doing any work on Sunday.  The longer I do this stuff the more I realize that Sabbath is much more.

In the story of scripture, the Israelites practiced Sabbath as a subversive act against those that enslaved them. They took a day each week to gather, to rest (even though slaves don’t get an off day), to sing psalms, and to hear the story of their people and their God. They took this day to remind themselves that their worth wasn’t measured by the amount of bricks they produced. Their worth was measured by the fact that they were children of God. They practiced this Sabbath God gave them not just as an act of subversion against their oppressors, but as a practice necessary for survival—to make it through the next week.

We may not be under Egyptian, Babylonian, or Roman oppression, but for me, sometimes I become a slave to the programs of my ministry. It’s in those seasons I find it SO necessary to get away, spend some quiet time with God, and hear the story that reminds me my value doesn’t come from how many kids I can get to sign up for the mission trip or how cool that stage design is. My worth (and yours) comes from the fact that I’m a child of God.