I had a young friend send me an email this week. She was inquiring about how to deal with sickness and stay involved in ministry. She has a similar background as me; a tough diagnosis with Lyme disease, but also an interest and gifting in music.
As I wrote her back, it became a bit of a wisdom-dump. Sometimes I don't even realize how much I've processed these things until someone asks me a question and I give an answer. So, instead of keeping this between her and I, I thought some of you might find these thoughts helpful.
Here was the question: "Rachel, I was wondering if you have any advice for someone in ministry struggling with this crazy disease [Lyme Disease]." Here's what I wrote back...
Treatment can definitely be brutal, making symptoms worse before they get better. But honestly, I didn't really get a lot of breakthrough except through prayer. Every time I've been flared up it has been prayer that's brought me out. I have discovered some of the most in-love with Jesus (with special callings on their lives) kind of people end up with Lyme. Feels almost like a special affliction meant to steal our destinies, the futures and ministry God has for us. So do not give up! I highly doubt the enemy has permission to kill you. In a similar way with Job, he can torment to an extent, but a line has been drawn. I know this is true in my own spirit for my own body. But God cares so much about our bodies too. Not just our soul and spirit. He actually cares about what we physically go through. He went through so much while He lived and walked with us.
As far as ministry goes, I get it. I have gone back and forth as to whether to travel or not. To stay home and write songs and let others share them. Or to push, get out and travel, and be on the road doing active ministry. It's all been very unclear. But here are a couple things that might help you.
1. Give yourself permission for lots of rest. You need way more than the average person. The rebound or bounce-back time is much slower for us. So you'll need to pace yourself with lots of cushion on the back side of your events. I like to say, pace yourself for peace.
Pace Yourself for Peace.
2. Do stuff online and at home. The possibilities are pretty limitless. This might mean putting a youtube video together and boosting it on Facebook to increase exposure. Nothing wrong with that. You can do it at your own pace right from home with an iPhone or iPad or whatever "i" device you choose. Heck, you can even do full concerts now live over Facebook.
3. Embrace the unscheduled-ness of your schedule. I can put things on my schedule, but my body is going to be the ultimate scheduler. Sometimes my best time is 10pm-midnight. Other times it's 3pm. I'll work then. Do what you can when you can. Don't worry about what normal people do. Rest when you need it. Work when you can. You'll have to learn to "pulse" your schedule. I work more from a "to do" list then a "I'm doing this now. And this from 2-4pm. Then this..." I can't operate like that because I may crash right in the middle of that timeframe.
4. Underwhelm your schedule. Honestly, I wish I would do this more often. God can get more done in the slow lane than I ever imagine. I underestimate His abilities and desires. So lean into this. When you're in a season of slump, pain, or lack of power - don't be afraid to underwhelm yourself. Our world values importance through busyness. But our world is often wrong on so many levels. God knows exactly what you have to give. What you want to be doing. And how much energy (or lack of it) you have to offer. Whatever He's asking you to do, He will give you the grace to do. Every time.
5. Any chance you get for prayer - take it. This is our greatest weapon against this disease and against the enemy who has brought this disease. And more and more I am realizing this is literally from the enemy. God is not about disease. There is no sickness that is from God. Ever. There was no disease before the Fall of man. Therefore, disease is a ripple effect of sin. It's what happens when things break. And they did. But that's why Jesus came - to unbreak the curse of sin. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. When things start getting stolen, killed, or destroyed - even our bodies - we know who to blame. These are his tell-tale signs. Which is why I know Lyme is from the pit of hell. I would encourage you in your prayer life to literally talk directly to the pain, seizures, Lyme, bacteria, infections, [insert your thing here] - and tell them (command, not ask) them to "Go now - in Jesus name." "Pain and seizures go now in Jesus name. Get out in Jesus name!" Rebuke them in Jesus name. I take slow walks with my dog and proclaim the name of Jesus over my infirmities (Jesus, You are over my pancreatitis. Jesus You are stronger than Lyme. Jesus Your name is higher than any infection or illness. By Your stripes I AM healed.) (His name is "I AM" - so I mean that both ways.) You will need to get up in the enemy's grill about this. He has no future, so he is trying to steal yours. But greater is Christ in you than that low-life. =) That's my translation.
6. If you are into reading, or you can listen to audio-books, I would definitely recommend The Healing Breakthrough by Randy Clark. It has changed a lot of my wrong thinking about God and healing. I realize now if we cut out all the healing Jesus did, we wouldn't have much of our New Testament. Jesus' preaching and healing always went hand in hand. Healing wasn't the exception. It was the norm. I believe that for today too. We have simply stopped believing and stopped asking. Never stop asking. Keep your expectations high. Get your hopes up. I believe He wants to heal us both - completely and permanently. (at least until we are about 80 years old...)
7. When you can't do anything, I have found just listening to great sermon podcasts is awesome. It's passive. I don't have to read or even have my mind working. When I"m in a fog, even if I don't get everything, I can put a podcast on and just listen. Sometimes, even fall asleep. And this just puts great truth into my heart, mind, subconscious. It's better than watching hours of Netflix. Although, a good movie can be a great distraction from pain too.
Hang in there. Breakthrough is coming.
Let your praise be louder than your pain.
Ray Hughes says that. And I LOVE it. So good.
Hugs from Nashville.