Thursday, July 30, 2009

Carmelina Read on why we need more stress

I spent a wonderful day on Saturday with the women from Bundoora Presbyterian Church. I got to lead a seminar (oh, frabjous day!) on spiritual disciplines (which will probably turn into a series on this blog some time) and even better, I got to hang out with Carmelina Read (oh, frabjouser day) and hear her talk on prayer from Equip last year (it's even better the second time!) and a great new talk she's written on stress. It's her talk on stress I want to tell you about now.

What would you expect from a talk about stress? Some handy hints about how to overcome stress? A new resolve to reduce stress in your life?

What you probably wouldn't expect to be told is that you need more stress.

But for me, and, I suspect, for many of the women who listened to Carmelina's talk, it wasn't so much the helpful hints about how to overcome stress that were useful - although they were very useful! - as the reminder that some stress is actually good!

Good? Huh? Aren't seminars on stress supposed to tell you how to get rid of it?!

No, because there's a kind of stress we should have more of in our lives. The kind of stress which comes from sharing the gospel. The kind of stress you feel when friends don't like you quite as much because you talk about Jesus. The kind of stress that missionaries experience every day when, "compelled by the love of Christ", they leave comfortable Western lives to bring Christ's love to others (2 Cor 5:14).

No, because there was a kind of stress which Paul felt every day. He experienced "conflicts on the outside, fears within" in the face of beatings, hunger, thirst, danger, cold, labour and even death as he talked about Jesus. He felt "great sorrow and unceasing anguish" for those who hadn't come to Christ. He worried over those he had brought to Christ with "great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears" as he faced "daily the pressure" of his "concern for all the churches". (2 Cor 4:7-12, 11:23-29, 5:20, 7:5, Rom 9:1-4, 2 Cor 2:4, 11:28-29, Gal 4:11, 1 Thess 3:5)

Gospel stress: now there's a kind of stress we could do with more of!

Carmelina made a resolution a year ago: that her non-Christian friends like her less by the end of the year! Not because she's insensitive and overbearing in how she talks about her faith, but because she just can't shut up about Jesus - you know, in that "today I was reading this and this struck me..." kind of way. She said she would rather that a friend said this about her (even complainingly!) than they not hear the gospel at all.

It's a scary resolution, but one worth making.

image is from stock.xchng

1 comment:

Fiona McLean said...

Dear Jean,

Thanks for this post. I've been thinking a lot over the past year or so about the rightness of feeling godly grief that our world (including the church) is not the way God means it to be, and Jesus' words "Blessed are those who mourn ..." - yet, at the same time, feeling a growing confidence in God's goodness and sovereignty and trustworthiness! There is a danger in being too comfortable or complacent or apathetic.

Fiona McLean