Anyone who flies knows the emergency plan routine: When the oxygen masks deploy, take for yourself before you help another. At first hearing, this instruction seems selfish; it seems tantamount to jumping to the front of the dessert line. Upon further reflection, however, the instruction makes perfect sense. If we are in a compromised state we will be in no condition to help anyone.
I totally get this.
As the summer of 2008 began, I felt myself ‘running out of gas’. We were furiously planning for the launch of The Well, our Vacation Bible School was being planned and executed, and we had as many as five of our members in hospital. This was on top of all of the normal duties and expectations for ministry.
If I reflect honestly I have to admit that I pretty much limped into vacation time. Soon into that, I was called back for a funeral of a founding member and dear friend. I returned to holidays with a heavy heart and an ’empty tank.’
I am grateful that as I became increasingly less useful (in a ministry sense), my self-awareness became more acute. My longing for the fellowship of Jesus Christ intensified. So did my hunger for reading Scripture and for prayer. I desperately needed renewal and refreshment…I begged God for that…and He delivered.
My experience entirely matched what the prophet Isaiah describes:
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isa. 40:29-31)
I realize that I have only been ‘back on the job’ for three weeks now, but I still find that my energy level is somewhere between the Energizer Bunny and the Tasmanian Devil. But it’s so much more than just energy levels (although, if I could bottle how I feel, I could probably put Red Bull out of business!). My perspective even seems sharper. And my hunger for Christ remains, even while feeling the satisfaction of His grace.
Why do I share this with you?
I share this because I’m guessing there might some who are feeling today, what I was feeling in mid July.
You’re being pulled in a hundred directions. Your ‘To-Do’ list is getting bigger, not smaller. You’re not reading your Bible as much. You’re too tired to pray. You’re unmotivated to attend and serve your local congregation. You’re ready to tap out.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
‘Bryn, you don’t know what I’m going through.’
‘Bryn, I don’t have the opportunity for an extended holiday like you.’
NEVERTHELESS, I am absolutely convinced that the promise of God which picked me back up off the ground, also applies to you. I am supremely confident that all “who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”
It is likely the case that someone depends upon you in some significant way. It is likely that your Christian leadership sets the pace for someone–perhaps it sets the pace for a group of people. How can you do that effectively if you are ready to ‘tap out’? How can you build up another, if you have been brought low?
It’s not unChristian to help yourself when doing so multiplies your capacity to help others. If you really want to help those who depend upon you, draw close to the Lord Jesus Christ. Take his “yoke” (Matthew 11:28-30) upon you. It is an awesome thing to be rescued by the Almighty. I’m so grateful that He cares for us. I’m so grateful that He possesses the ability to help us up off the mat. Yes, the One who is abundantly able implores you:
“Call upon Me in the day of trouble and I will rescue you, and you will honour Me.” (Ps. 50:15)
Don’t allow your myriad of responsibilities to keep you from making the call.