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When Ministry Exhausts You, Head 'Back to the Jordan'

  • Eva Marie Everson Contributing Writer
  • Updated Oct 28, 2008
When Ministry Exhausts You, Head 'Back to the Jordan'

“I wish I had your job. You get to travel, meet new people, teach the Word.”


No doubt I love my job. I don’t like being in airports so much – packing, unpacking, praying over baggage conveyor belts (please, Lord, let my luggage come out of the chute). Meeting new people is a hardship for me, as is sleeping in hotel rooms without my family close by and getting far too little sleep. But other than that…


I speak at a lot of women’s retreats. For those who attend, (hopefully) it is a time of physical relaxation and spiritual regeneration. For me, it’s a lot of fun mixed with a boatload of work. Ministry can be a taxing occupation and calling. But when you’re called, you’re called. Not doing what God has required of you is more difficult than the labor.


Here’s another line I hear quite often: “Singing praise music all weekend and then being in the Word… I bet you come home super-charged for Jesus!”


Sometimes. What most people don’t realize is all the work that goes on behind the scenes – the last minute technical problems… the last minute instructions from the Spirit that send me spinning in a new direction… the inner prayer that searches the deepest part of God in order to bring Him to the hearts of others.


What keeps me going at times is the knowledge that I’m not alone. Even the Son of God met with problems in His ministry; problems that left Him world-weary and exhausted.


Are You or Aren’t You?

It was the Feast of Dedication — Hanukkah — around 29 AD. Jesus was in Jerusalem for the celebration. The other Jews who were there surrounded Him, asking Him if He was, indeed, the One they had waited for, the One promised to them, the Messiah, the Son of God.


“Just tell us plainly,” they demanded.


Jesus reminded them that He had told them plainly. The problem was they didn’t believe. They didn’t “get it.” Sure, they’d seen His miracles and they’d heard Him say it was all done in the name of His Father. “But you do not believe because you are not my sheep,” He told them.[1]


It must have been difficult to say. “I know my sheep… they follow me… I give them eternal life… no one can snatch them from my hand… I and the Father are one.”[2]


The people were furious and attempted to stone Him. Again.


Jesus stood His ground. “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”[3]


Not for the miracles, they said. Who could be upset about miracles? Instead, their fury was about blasphemy; His claiming to be God.


Isn’t that what they’d asked Him earlier? Isn’t that what they wanted from Him?


Again Jesus stood His ground and again they tried to stone Him. This time, however, He was able to escape their grasp.


I suppose in some ways it’s a technical difficulty; having those you came to save — the very ones you created — turn on you. It’s enough to make even the Son of God weary, exhausted, and ready for His own retreat.


Back to the Jordan

Recently I had a most reenergizing experience, even amidst the workload of ministry. It began as I stood before a congregation. Gripping the podium on each side and willing myself not to cry, I squared my shoulders and scanned the crowd. “I can’t tell you what it means to be here,” I told them. “To lead you in revival for these next few days. There are so many memories in this room and so many of you bring a song to my heart. Mrs. Stanley, who taught me to arabesque as my ballet instructor; Mrs. Robinson, who taught me southern graces simply by being a lady….” I pointed to the altar. “This is the place, right here, that as a child I knelt before God and gave my life to the Lord. This church is where I heard the Word of God, where it inspired and called to me. This is my Bethlehem’s Field, the place I first heard about Jesus.”


It was also my Jordan, the place where I was first baptized. The place where my spiritual journey and my call to preach began.


Before Jesus began His three-and-a-half-year ministry, He went to the Jordan River where His relative, the one called John the Baptist, was preaching, crying out to the people to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”[4] Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan as a common man. John tried to stop Him. “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”[5]


But Jesus insisted and as Jesus came out of the water, the Spirit of God lighted on Him like a dove while the Father spoke, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”[6]


For those who witnessed it, it was more than just seeing the Son of God baptized. It was seeing the Son of God and the Spirit of God while hearing the voice of the Father. It was an empowering moment and easy for anyone to understand how it could set the spark of ministry to flame.


A Place to Return

After Jesus’ near-stoning, He returned to the Jordan, to the place where He’d been baptized. Perhaps He needed to get back to where it all started, to be reminded of what it was He was called to do and for whom. For whatever reason, being there worked toward that end; many people came to Him there… and they believed.


Sometimes we just need to go back to where it all began, to be reminded, to be refreshed, and to help others believe.

Eva Marie Everson’s most current work is Reflections of God’s Holy Land: A Personal Journey Through Israel (Thomas Nelson/Nelson Bibles). For more information about the book and Eva Marie's speaking topics, go t

[1] John 10:26

[2] John 10: 27-30

[3] John 10: 32

[4] Matthew 3:2

[5] Matthew 3:14

[6] Matthew 3:17