I’m not sure if you catch yourself doing this, but when someone asks me “How have you been doing?”, I find that my default answer always seems to be “pretty tired” or “things are busy.” Sometimes I’ll even say it when things in life are pretty peaceful and under control. It’s a horrible habit. I’ve realized that I have this unconscious need to assure people that I’m an important person who so happens to be in great demand.

However, in seasons when I actually do find myself exhausted, I’m usually surrounded by friends cautioning me to “slow down” or to “take it easy.” But here’s the thing, after taking that kind of advice time after time, I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s wisdom is hitting the real reason for my weariness. Is “slowing down” really the answer?

When you flip over to my birth date (February 9) in the famous devotional, Utmost for His Highest, the author addresses this very issue. Chambers attributes the cause of our exhaustion not to the amount of work we do, but to the lack of nutrition we ingest.  He suggests that no matter how much we take off of our plates, the problem will still remain if we don’t address our broken taps. Canceling meetings, working less hours or taking a holiday doesn’t resolve the tiredness in our soul. In fact, our soul actually thrives when it is moving forward with a purpose. It just begins to break down when it’s not getting fed. Exhaustion begins to creep up when our pipes get clogged and when our wires get tangled. The power to push on gets blocked by all the hair and debris built up in the channels that fuel our soul. Weariness is something that weighs us down when the only thing keeping us up is human determination. Our strategies and effort can’t push hard enough to resist the gravity of life’s demand.

    Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:34 ESV)

According to Jesus, his food is to DO the will of the Lord! Call it an offense-focused strategy. He gets fed in the act of “doing”, by obeying the will of the Father. Ironically, Jesus had a bad habit of “eating on the run.” Fueling up, according to Jesus, has little to do with resting and everything to do with moving in the will of God. With that said, it’s reasonable to conclude that the weariness we experience occurs most when we walk outside of God’s will. Out in those open spaces far from God’s path, there’s no way to remain connected to the vine. Branches that break off into their own self made paths end up dry and shriveled up (John 15). The fruit it bears is but short lived.

The nutrients, energy and power we need are found on the path of God’s will. If you remain on the well watered path, run long and run hard. Use those breaks and pit stops to assess whether you’ve veered off from God’s intended direction. Reflect on the neglected sins that entangles your wires and clogs your drains. Remember that God gives us “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). There’s no longer a need to make trips to the local well, the source of our strength can be found in his good, perfect and pleasing will.

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One thought on “Running on Empty

  1. Hey Jesse,

    Erin suggested I take a look at your recent blog entry because we read a book over the summer you may be familiar with entitled, “The Overload Syndrome.” I had to read it for Pioneers. The book is essentially about limits. Anyway, I like your point: business is not in itself a bad thing. A lot of times being busy is a good thing because it is good to have things to do and productive things even better. I have dealt with a lot of stress in the past few months, perhaps more than I have ever experienced before and many times I have wanted to go home and nurse my own health, but I want to serve God. I am here to serve God and so I go to God acknowledging my limitations and weakness and ask him to be strong. There are times when I do need to just wait and take a break, but it is to go back to the work that God has called me to.

    I just listened to a really good sermon tonight that is related to the topic at hand. If you have time I would highly recommend it: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/The-Hope-God-Gives

    I pray for you, David and your families regularly because of Erin there. Keep up the good work!

    In Christ,
    Ryan

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