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Dear Pastor: What ‘And’ Can Do

Even more than Tauren Wells, The Apostle Paul would echo that ministry often comes with an “and” attached.

In II Corinthians 6, the apostle Paul describes the high calling of doing work for the Lord. He is profoundly candid about the realities of the stress and joy that come with the work of ministry.

God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped.

Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!

(2 Corinthians 6:1-13, The Message)

“And” is powerful.

A pile of positive “ands” can be a source of great joy. A heap of challenging “ands” can be downright discouraging. If your ands have you winded and wondering, then know this, you are not the only one.

So many, including Charles Spurgeon, the famous 19th-century London preacher, have carried the weight of a pile of challenging ands. For Spurgeon, his ands were so wearisome that he would write at various points of his ministry:

I have suffered many times from severe sickness and frightful mental depression seeking almost to despair. Almost every year I’ve been laid aside for a season, for flesh and blood cannot bear the strain, at least such flesh and blood as mine. I believe, however, the affliction was necessary to me and has answered salutary ends.

Even the sight of the Bible brought from me a flood of tears and utter distraction of mind.

I have gone to the very bottoms of the mountains, as some of you know, in a night that never can be erased from my memory . . . but, as far as my witness goes, I can say that the Lord is able to save unto the uttermost and in the last extremity, and he has been a good God to me.

No one is immune from a bad case of the ands.

All the ands can get heavy and have a way of weighing us down and wearing us out.

Live Beloved is here to provide a safe space where you can share your ands.

If the ands are piling up in your life today, I encourage you to reach out.

If you are weary under the weight of the ands I invite you to give me a call at (317) 515-7956. It would be an honor to walk with you.

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.