Sustaining versus Regenerating

spaceSustaining is a word that I have used a lot as a spiritual director and minister in the church. How do we remain sustainable in Christ? As a person who burned out from ministry in her mid-twenties (I was on the fast track), I had to shift in how I operated. Burn out was a natural result from my way of life and the experience of it was a grace. I had to reconsider how I was living my life. And while, I think it is good to consider our pace of life, I recently was challenged in my usage of the term “sustaining”.

I was at a lecture recently where one of the speakers, Makoto Fujimura, was talking about engaging in our culture by caring for it, rather than warring against it (a fantastic talk, which was delivered like poetry). I asked a question at the end about how to remain sustainable in culture care, in the midst of a world that preferred war. He looked at me, and very respectably, pointed out the error in my way of thinking. The problem with sustainability, he explained, was that it implied a limit of resources. However, our God is limitless. While I am limited and my world is limited, I am loved by one who is not limited. Not only is he not limited, he is able to regenerate that which was dead. So, the better place to begin, is from the belief that God is regenerating, making all things new.

His words struck a nerve in me. So much of my life has been lived under the assumption that there are limited resources. I can either try to greedily gather them all for myself, or just disconnect from my desires and pretend that I don’t want them. Neither posture has worked well for me. Instead, the invitation is to believe in the truth that God is limitless and trust his yes and his no (as well as the dreaded, wait).

Tonight I watched a video, where a woman shared about her belief that all things will be made new. At one point, the interviewer asked what gives her hope. She teared up as she explained how God gives her, in the midst of suffering and confusion, glimpses of redemption, of life growing out of that which was called dead. Those glimpses regenerate her hope.

God is not giving the bare minimum (even though some days that feels true). He is not maintaining the status quo.  He is regenerating, reviving, resurrecting – making all things new.

Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief.

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