A capacity to serve—and rest
Capacity is a strange word. I’ve heard it all my life in various, well, capacities. I remember when we purchased our first washer and dryer. As we stood in front of a row of Kenmore machines, we scanned the specs for each one. Like refrigerators, the available space is measured in cubic feet. But just how many pair of jeans and socks fit into 3.2 cubic feet? Since we didn’t know, we just crammed in as much as we could and closed the door.
Compared to a washing machine, 21 cubic feet for a side-by-side refrigerator sounds mammoth, maybe even big enough to hold a side of beef. That is, until you try to shove a store-bought pizza into the freezer. It reminds me of all the wannabe princesses trying to shove their man-sized feet into Cinderella’s lost slipper.
As kids we learned about capacity the hard way, even if we didn’t understand what it was. But we clearly remember those moments of having to wait one more go around—an eternity—before getting on the amusement ride. “Sorry, kids. The ride is full, but we can get you on the next one.” It was right up there with waiting for Christmas.
Each spring we hear about capacity when some region of the United States is underwater as rivers swell and dams are breeched. In February and October, stadiums are at capacity for the Super Bowl and World Series. At Thanksgiving, we discover the capacity of our tummies.
In recent weeks, I’m hearing the word used all over the place. I’m not sure if “capacity” has newfound popularity, or I’m just more in tune to its use. A lot of us, it seems, have reached our own capacity. For me, the word capacity carries a certain authority that is easy to understand. When someone says, “I don’t feel up for (fill in the blank)” I am left wondering. But when they say, “I just don’t have the capacity for that right now,” a certain knowing registers in my mind. I get it.
Sometimes in ministry, it is easy to reach our capacity. The overload can come because of a variety of reasons: failing to set healthy boundaries, trying to do it all on our own power, becoming so busy we forget to fuel up through the Word and prayer, isolating ourselves, pursuing with wrong motives, seeking approval of others … And the list goes on.
As believers, we know there is no easy formula for determining our capacity. It is subjective, every day. The Apostle Paul, in his checklist of sufferings for the cause of Christ, demonstrated a high capacity. For the young rich man, who picked possessions over Christ, not so much. Through the ebbs and flows of each of our lives, we all probably have high- and low-capacity days.
The Scriptures tells us in Philippians 4:13 that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. But in Hebrews 4, we are encouraged to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 9:24 to run the race for the prize, yet Jesus found strength and solace in the garden (Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32, Luke 22:39). There are times to push and times to rest.
I think many times when we talk about capacity, we think of a person’s mind. What is their IQ? Where were they educated? How do they process? In reality, our capacity comes from our ears. Are we hearing? What can we do to increase our capacity to hear from the Lord? When is it time to push or time to rest?
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul reminds the believers in Corinth that they have the spirit of faith and will also be raised up with Jesus.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (v. 16-18)
Now that is some kind of capacity.
Photo by Efraimstochter /Pixabay