I woke up this morning out of a bazaar dream. Sunscreen. I had a dream that I put sunscreen on my face, turned around and looked into a mirror. My reflection in the mirror revealed excessive sunscreen; blobs of caulk-like white plastered around my face. I tried to rub it in, but that only made my face increasingly pale. “I didn’t even need sunscreen!” This clear thought shot through my brain and I woke up.

One foot in front of the other I crawled out of bed. Today is my first day off in a very long time. Two months ago I accepted a full time job, a very full time job. Demands and deliverables have been driving me fast, somehow graced by my own genuine excitement and sense of purpose in the role. Busy, nonetheless, very busy.

Four large trees tower over the roof of our house and I stare at their jagged branches. The leaves on them are full  – creating a canopy of shade on our deck. Shade.

The Lord watches over you. The Lord is the shade at your right hand.

The Word washes me and I hear Him, “You don’t need sunscreen, Katie. You need to respect the role of shade. Get into the shade. I am Your Shade.”

In that moment, I understand my dream:

My face – myself
Excessive sunscreen – my fear of getting burned, burned out
Mirror – a reflection of my fear
My thought – an invitation to trust God instead of self-protecting

Self-protection is a big deal. It limits my personal freedom. Trust in God to protect me in what He is calling me to is a bigger deal. It liberates my present.

Is it possible to be in full-time ministry and not burn out? I don’t mean the obvious crash, burn, and quit of external burnout. I mean the subtler, unnoticed, layers of internal burnout where people lose their personal sense of “life abundant” and “my cup overflows.”

I fear that.

The trees shake with the wind and the shade shifts.

I sense my invitation – “Don’t fear the increase, Katie, trust Me, make use of the shade.”

Its easy when people’s expectations are increasing, to start living in response to them, for them, because of them. In that space plaster me with sunscreen and even then I would probably do well to just hide. It is not safe. But … I believe there is a better way. Instead of self-protecting, I could up my ante on following Holy Spirit’s voice. Let Him be my protector; listen, respond.

When Holy Spirit says take a Sabbath – take it.
When Holy Spirit says turn off my phone – turn it off.
When Holy Spirit says walk away from a need – walk away.
When Holy Spirit says do something for myself – do it.

I think that becoming a better follower of Holy Spirit is how we can position ourselves to steward increase in a way that supports rather than threatens our personal needs. This requires a die-hard commitment to Him as the primary leader in our lives.

After all, who is really driving us? Is it Him?

It’s a brilliant hot day in my life and I plan to enjoy it.
But the dazzling favor of man, I refuse to work to maintain.

Sunscreen is not my solution.
The Shade is.

The Lord is the shade at my right hand.