Energized, or Drained?

After what I wrote last time, you might have pigeonholed me as one of those driven types, all work and no play. That’s not quite the full picture. Yes, I’m in favor of productivity (I assume you are, too). But it doesn’t have to kill us.

On a hot day in Samaria, Jesus said something odd to his disciples as they returned from a quick trip to the sandwich shop. The morning’s travel had left them all thirsty and hungry, so much that Jesus was “tired [and] sat down by the well” (John 4:6). But instead of closing his eyes for a rest, he had found himself engaged in a tricky conversation with a woman who needed spiritual guidance. She wasn’t the most open soul he’d ever met. She kept trying to derail him with religious-trivia questions, such as which place of worship she should attend.

Did this wear him out even further? Not at all. When the disciples returned with carry-out lunch, he brushed it aside. They wondered why.

Listen to his explanation: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (v. 34). Something about doing what his Father had in mind for him was, in an odd sort of way, energizing. He could honestly claim that his vigor was up, his mind was refreshed, and his passion to keep going was strong.

Doing the things we were meant to do has a way of recharging us, even though we’re expending a great deal of effort in the process. We get to the end of an hour or a day, and we actually look forward to the next step. That is because we’re in sync with God’s assignments for our life.

If on the other hand I repeatedly find myself drained, exhausted, and frustrated as I push ever more doggedly through my projects, I might do well to stop and ask whether I’m engaged in “the will of him who sent me.” Maybe I’ve taken up something from my own initiative rather than God’s.

This is not to say there won’t be tough times in any Kingdom endeavor. Obstacles and complications will push against us. Our daily work is seldom a cakewalk. We sometimes feel like our brains have turned to mush. But if the overall trend is downward, if we repeatedly find ourselves sighing about how difficult our path seems to be, it is time for reassessment. What was our original calling, anyway? Are we still on track with what the Master Life Planner mapped out for us?

Jesus once invited “all you who are weary and burdened” to come to him for rest (see Matthew 11:28-30). I assume this includes even those who are weary and burdened from useful work. Granted, he spoke about a “yoke” that fits around our shoulders—a structure for getting things done. But he added that it would be “easy.” His burden could be classified as “light.”

If the load you’re pulling these days is heavy, uncomfortable, and draining … is it a load from the hand of Jesus? Or does it comes from somewhere else?

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