Thursday, May 12, 2016

Zeal without Burnout

Sometimes the simplest truths are the most profound. And practical. Drawing on Scriptures such as Genesis 2:7, Psalm 90:3, and Psalm 103:14, Ash writes, “God is God, and we are dust.” This is the neglected truth we need to act upon daily if we are to maintain a lifelong ministry of sustainable sacrifice.

Because we are dust, we need sleep, Sabbaths, friends, and food; because God is God, he does not. Because God doesn’t slumber or sleep (Psalm 121:3-4), we can. And we can take our weekly Sabbath rest in light of the truth that God is always working (John 5:17).

Then why do we try to push back our limitations and neglect God’s provisions for our frailty? Pride.

To neglect sleep, Sabbaths, friendships and inward renewal is not heroism but hubris. It is to claim that I am a level or two above normal members of the human race. When a fellow-Christian lets slip how very hard they are working, and that they haven’t had a proper day off for a while, we need to find a way of saying to them (in love!), “You are behaving like an arrogant fool!”

In humility and faith we need to embrace our humaneness. In his conclusion Ash counsels us to say to ourselves something like this:

“I am — and will never, this side of the resurrection, be more than — a creature of dust. I will rest content in my creaturely weakness; I will use the means God has given me to keep going in this life while I can; I will allow myself time to sleep; I will trust him enough to take a day off each week; I will invest in friendships and not be a proud loner; I will take with gladness the inward refreshment he offers me. I will serve the Lord Jesus with a glad and restful zeal, with all the energy that he works within me; but not with anxious toil, selfish ambition, the desire for the praise of people, and all the other ugly motivations that will destroy my soul. So help me God.”

If internalized, this slim volume combines truths and testimonies that will safeguard the reader from burning out in his or her service to the Lord.

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