As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But he would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family…” Mark 5:18-19(a)
Escape is defined as breaking free from confinement or control. But it also means to, “fail to be noticed or remembered by someone.” (Oxford Dictionary). To escape means to avoid a difficulty, to go to a place where you have control. It is avoidance at its finest.
I first realized that “escape” existed in the church during my first tour of ministry. Broken souls doing good work, the people I volunteered with were some of the kindest most loving people I have ever known. We worked helping in childcare during church service, changing diapers, playing with the kids and keeping them happy and entertained while their parents were getting spiritually fed. I had three young children of my own at the time.
It wasn’t long before I realized that many of the women I volunteered with shouldn’t have been there. They had worked long hours or had been home tending to their own children all day. Yet here we were at eight o’clock at night taking care of someone elses’s children. I was exhausted.
But why were we there? We had all been touched by the loving hand of Christ and wanted to thank Him by giving back of our ourselves, but we were all doing it in the wrong place. None of us was home. All of us were avoiding something- a broken marriage, taking care of our own children. We were exhausted.
It wasn’t long before I realized that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. The more I gave, the more the ministry took and the more hours I put in, away from my family. One night, we had too many kids in the room for the space that we were in. I was physically and mentally drained and asking myself why I had signed up for this when my husband and children were home.
Next thing I knew one of the kids had slammed me with the door on accident. Blood was running down my face. Strangers had to take care of me, and I ended up in the hospital.
That was the last time I volunteered for that ministry
My wake up call was louder and more painful than most. Over the years, as God has led me, I have been a part of a variety of ministries. My experience has always been the same. A great majority of the people should not be there. They love Christ and want to serve Him, but are doing it in the wrong place.
They have left their family behind
It has always bothered me that clergy has not taken a more active role in reminding folks what their vocations are. Marriages do not get better because you are running a spiritual retreat and children do not become less wanting because you are a Eucharistic Minister.
In the gospels, Jesus never tells the people he cures to go to some other foreign place. He tells them to go home. That doesn’t mean that when we have done our duties, taken care of our children and worked on our marriages that we cannot then go serve Him in another capacity. Ministry should not be an escape. It is a secondary call.
It is where we serve Him AFTER we have served Him
I want to do good and serve you but I realize that I may be using ministry to escape my first calling to my marriage and family. Help me to step down from the places and spaces that interfere with the home, family and responsibilities that you have given me. I know that my full time and attention need to be there. Help me give these things to you Father so I am where you want me to be.
In Jesus name,