It is difficult to trust God with our “whole heart”. For a believer this isn’t because we don’t love God. The opposite might even be true – that we love God so much we want to be a part of what He is doing. A phrase that echoes in my soul comes from Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus speaks these words to His most beloved disciples in His time of greatest angst. Today we would describe it as anxiety or worry. It isn’t a worry for Jesus; His soul is “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”. The disciples, seeing and experiencing all that is happening, desperately want to help their Leader, but all He does is ask them to watch and pray.
Peter, just a few moments earlier, stated he would die for Jesus, but “watch and pray” proved to be asking too much. I can relate to this feeling. How can I help? Pray! OK, but if you need me to do anything, just ask. Pray! Great, but I’d like to be able to DO something… Watch and pray!
Our spirit is willing to watch and pray, but our flesh is weak. If we aren’t physically active, we feel we aren’t doing enough. This is difficult for all of us. It is difficult for your leadership staff at Cross; it is difficult for me. To just watch and pray often feels like I am not doing my job as the spiritual leader. What I have come to learn is that it is my job to model how to watch and pray.
Jesus retreated to a solitary place after major ministry moments. He did it to be with His Father and to recharge. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes people followed Him (Luke 4:42), but Jesus always modeled how to rest, watch and pray.
I have been contemplating this for the last several years now. (I am a stubborn learner sometimes.) Even before the pandemic I realized that I did not rest well. I would only truly rest when I hit a wall and got sick. Early in our marriage I was sick almost every time I took time off, so much so that my family still is amazed when I am not sick when I take time off work. They brace for it to still happen!
What I have come to realize in myself is that when I rest it actually grows my faith. I constantly battle the reality that my flesh says, “I am the one that needs to do this” while my spirit is constantly reminding me, “God has this; watch and pray.” This is not easy, but it is necessary. Allowing God to lead is what makes someone a great spiritual leader.
I am taking some time to rest, watch and pray this month. Some time will be spent with family. We will celebrate my parents’ 80th birthdays by getting all their descendants into one cabin in Tennessee. I will also be taking some time in solitude. I will take some time to attend freshman college orientation with my daughter. (This is still strange!) I will take time to trust God has Cross’ ministries in His mighty hands.
We have a great team and a great family at Cross. There is still so much to DO as we all recover from the pandemic and as we look forward to the plan and path God has for us. None of it matters. We could be willing to die for the mission. If we won’t watch and pray, the flesh wins out over the spirit.
So please, pray with me, pray for me, pray for the team at Cross. Pray for our families and for our faith. I assure you: It is the most impactful thing you could ever do as we battle together against the devil, share the Good News of Jesus and together fulfill our purpose to Mature as Disciples of Jesus who Walk with God in Worship, Grow in Faith Together, and Love Our Neighbors. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
His servant and yours,
Pastor Erik Gauss
Scripture Readings for Sunday, June 19
One thought on “Pastor’s Corner”
I really needed to hear this. Enjoy your rest time!