Too exhausted to run and too scared to rest
July 11, 2007
I just finished reading At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon. I read it only because the book I had on order had not come in—was on a waiting list a mile long, and Teresa said: "If you like that series, I think you'll like this one."
So I read it. Took two renewals and some persevering, but I made it through. Not that I didn't like it—I did. It just didn't compel me to keep at it like the other series did. Now, having finished it, I have to share a little bit of it with the rest of you.
The main character, Father Tim, rector at Lord's Chapel in the village of Mitford, had gone to visit Absolom Greer, a country preacher with no formal education but lots of experience, who lived nearby, in hopes the older man could shed some light on the subtle changes he was feeling. As they visited, Greer allowed as how he had fought what was obviously God's calling to preach—fought it for three years, 'til finally one night he woke up feeling like he'd been hit upside the head with a two-by-four.
For two more years he searched, 'til finally he could resist no longer.
"The next sixty-four years of my life have been bliss," he said.
"With no dry spells?" Father Tim asked, revealing his heart.
"My brother, dry is not the word," said Greer. "There was a time I went down like a stone in a pond and sank clear to the bottom. I lay on the bottom of that pond for two miserable years, and I thought I'd never see the light of day in my soul again."
Admitting that his current trial was nothing like that, Father Tim allowed that, in an odd sort of way, perhaps it was worse.
"How's that?" asked Greer.
"I'm afraid my sermons are about as nourishing as cardboard."
"Are you resting?"
"Resting. Sometimes we get so worn out with being useful that we get useless. I'll ask you what another preacher once asked," said Greer: "Are you too exhausted to run and too scared to rest?"
Too scared to rest! Father Tim rolled the words around in his mind, remembering that his doctor had asked him just the other day—again—: "When in God's name are you going to take a vacation?"
He hadn't known the truth then, but he felt he knew it now—that yes, he was too scared to rest. And definitely too exhausted to be of any good to anyone else.
The old preacher, with eyes clear as gemstones, seemed to look into his very soul. "My brother, I would urge you to search the heart of God on this matter, for it was this very thing that sank me to the bottom of the pond."
Thought there might be a smidgeon of truth in there for all of us.