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Ministry Matters: Rest is More Than an Antidote


I wasn’t too familiar with the practicality of an antidote until recently. In the past, my only exposure to the idea was when we visited the serpentarium in Orlando, FL and watched them milking the venom from the most poisonous snakes on the earth. The venom is milked in only a few places in the world. Then it is shipped away and mixed with horse blood {which is compatible with all blood types} to be used as an antidote for victims of snake bite around the world. I’ve never needed an antidote myself. Until recently when I ended up in the emergency room due to an allergic reaction to a pain medication that my dentist had prescribed.

Fainting, vomiting, auditory hallucinations, distorted vision, difficulty breathing, shock. And the first thing they did at the hospital was offer me an antidote.

Yes, please and thank you. Right away.

What I wasn’t expecting was that I would get worse before I got better. I learned that the antidote causes the body to expel the last remnants of the medication, leaving the patient very sick. Even Zofran, a miracle drug during my HG pregnancies, did not work to ease the nausea and vomiting. It took 15 hours to feel human again.

As I sipped ginger ale and pushed away flashbacks of pregnancy, Hyperemesis, and hospital stays, I silently vowed to never take Codeine (or a Codeine relative) again.

All of this because of a choice I made to take a tiny pill. And while I lived out the results of my choice, I had lots of time to think. I like to ask God “What are You teaching me?” when things like this happen.

And, in keeping with the theme of our ministsry sabbatical {rest, be still}, He impressed some things on my heart from the past that I wasn’t too keen on facing, but I really needed to.

Aside from the forced rest He was giving me {instead of a fun day traveling like we had planned}, something else became clear:

I’m convinced that we {especially those of us in ministry} use rest as an antidote. If you’re like me for the past 10 years, you’ve embraced a packed schedule- all good things- and then periodically crashed. You were going along swimmingly until something made the unhealthy rhythm snap, and it made you realize that something had to give.

You had to get some rest, or you might crumple into a heap. You had to stop pushing your body so hard, or it would give out on you. You had to take a break from people, or you might smother. You had to quiet your heart, or the noise within would make you deaf to God’s voice.

As a pastor’s wife, I’ve been there many times. I’ve even said it out loud “I have to change something.” So on our family vacations each year, my husband and I would use some of our 25-30 hour drive home to Canada evaluating our lives. We would write down what we were doing in each category {family, church, leisure} and weed things out. See where the imbalanced areas were. Try to simplify our lives.

It worked for awhile. But eventually, when life is that crazy, things get added back in. Ministering in small{er} churches means that most of the work load falls on a few people. And before you know it you’ve got your hands in every ministry of the church…because there are needs there. Somehow we find ourselves in the rat race again. Not knowing how to say ‘no.’ Not sure how to get out from under all the expectations of so many.

Aware that no matter what, we are not enough for someone.

Enter the antidote. A nap? A vacation? A day off? An evening to just ‘be?’ Yes, I’ll take them all. Please and thank you.

But it’s not enough. And as many times as I’ve heard myself say it, I hear others in ministry say it.

“It feels like we never even got away.”

Hmm. Yes, haven’t we all been there. Maybe you’re there now?

You need more than an antidote. The antidote I was given simply emptied my system of the toxin I had put in that morning. But if I take another one of those pills tomorrow, I’ll need the antidote again.

If you use rest as an antidote, but you don’t change anything about your lifestyle, you will be right back where you started.

An antidote is not permanent- it’s a quick fix. But a different choice will make a permanent change.

A different lifestyle, whether through big or small changes, will produce the rest that your heart, mind, and body need.

True rest is not a quick fix.

True rest comes through daily, often monotonous choices that produce eternal results in our souls.

God invites us to a heart culture of rest in Psalm 4:4 “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”

This requires a choice to stop rushing around and go sit down. If your job requires you to rush around, then it means finding ways to sit your heart down and let God speak. Maybe it means not always being in the middle of the crowd. Maybe it means saying “no” to that party. Maybe it means letting some things go and learning to not let it bother you. The key is finding out what it means for you in your specific circumstances.

I don’t ever want to go back to a lifestyle of using rest as an antidote. As my schedule increases, my constant cry to God is that He will enable me to keep a restful heart- to make long term choices that promote that rest.

In the future, if you don’t want to need the antidote, then don’t take that pill. Don’t make that choice. Admittedly, sometimes it takes making the wrong choice in order to clearly see where we have gone wrong. This is where God’s grace is the balm that soothes and redirects. You can look back and see where you’ve not chosen rest? That’s ok. It helps you see more clearly what choices to make in the future!

True soul rest is more than an antidote. What things can you change this week in order to step out of the rat race and experience genuine stillness? I promise, you won’t regret it.


A Kindred Spirit



2 thoughts on “Ministry Matters: Rest is More Than an Antidote

  1. Great thoughts Leah! I’m so glad you are okay, but I’m also thankful for this perspective. It’s something I’m trying to figure out for my own life and not very successfully. Hugs to you!

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