Any serious athlete understands that elite sport training drains you. There may be phases in your training program that are dialed back and in fact periods of rest leading up to competitions or games, however by and large, an athlete spends considerable time feeling depleted. For this reason, solid sleep and rest days are absolutely critical for an athlete’s body and mind, so that they may be restored.
As Christians we can also become depleted of physical, emotional and spiritual energy. Often it is those around us and circumstances around us that deplete us. There is an old story about a lighthouse keeper who worked on a coastline. Once a month he would receive a new supply of oil to keep the light burning so that ships could safely sail near the rocky coast. As the month progressed local families came to him for some oil to warm their houses, to light lamps or for lubrication. Since all the requests seemed legitimate, the lighthouse keeper tried to please everyone and granted all the requests. Toward the end of the month, however, his supply of oil was dangerously low and soon the oil was gone and the light on the lighthouse went out. As a result, several ships were wrecked, and countless lives were lost. When the authorities investigated, the man was apologetic and told them that he was just trying to be helpful with the oil. However, their reply to his excuses was simple: “You were given oil for one purpose, and one purpose only – to keep that light burning!”
God has made me recognize that there is an endless supply of good things I could be doing 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. There is an endless supply of people whom I could be helping. Fortunately, Jesus provides an example to us of how we should live as Christians. Yes, we should be selfless, pouring ourselves out for others as God directs us. Yes, we should do the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), but we should also be wise. We need to firstly differentiate between “good things” and “God things” (those works God has prepared for us to do). Secondly, we need to learn the art of retreating. There are numerous passages in the New Testament showing Jesus retreating. “15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5: 15-16). This concept of retreat to quiet places is critical, especially when we choose to be a disciple of Christ.
If we are truly intent on serving God, there will be times where we feel depleted and worn down. It is absolutely critical that we schedule time to rejuvenate with God. This is more than just locking ourselves in our room and binge watching our favourite TV show (not that there is a problem with doing that occasionally). It is critical that we also get away and spend time with God.
Jesus recognized that his father was his source of strength and wisdom, and he needed to get away to silent places to commune with him. How much more are we in need of that time away, and that time of speaking with our heavenly father. Make sure you are not letting the light burn out in your lighthouse. “..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.” (Isaiah 40:31).