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Don’t Give Away What’s Meant for You

Can we find oxygen for exhausted souls in Song of Songs, of all books?
Don’t Give Away What’s Meant for You
Image: Portrait by Joel Kimmel

The man who is wise, therefore, will see his life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself. … You too must learn to await this fullness before pouring out your gifts, do not try to be more generous than God.
— Bernard of Clairvaux, from “The Two Operations of the Holy Spirit”

I was exhausted. I poured myself out all week, every week: preaching on Sunday, meetings on Monday, ministry groups on Tuesday, teaching Bible study on Wednesday, visiting the sick on Thursday, and sermon prep on Friday. By Saturday I had nothing left to give.

As a staff member at a large church, I knew what I had signed up for. I had degrees that prepared me for the rigor of a vocational life dedicated to Christ. I had friends in ministry, a supportive community, and books galore, and I knew enough to take retreats every few months. I loved ...

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