Monday, January 28, 2019

The Difference Between Spiritual and Physical Exhaustion

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.” – 1 Kings 19:3-6 

Elijah had just experienced a significant spiritual event.  God had sent fire down from heaven.  Elijah had killed the priests of Baal.  During that time, he was focused on what God could do. But then, He ran for his life.  His focus shifted to what he could do and fear overcame him.  Taking your eyes off of God and onto your own ability will always have the same effect. Recall Peter walking on the water.  He took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on his own ability and began to sink.   

Elijah may have been physically tired from his run, but I believe that he experienced what I would call spiritual exhaustion.  It is the feeling you get when God has been working through you to do something that you could not do on your own, by your own strength.  When Paul said “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13, he was not referring to his ability to do natural things. Elijah was spiritually exhausted which manifested itself in the physical.  When God uses mere mortals to act on His behalf, there is a physical after effect.  And when it happens you are vulnerable to spiritual attack.  Satan will be quick to remind you that you have feet of clay.  He will tempt you to focus on yourself. 

Do not confuse weariness that comes from busyness with spiritual exhaustion.  I know many people who just won’t say “no”.  ( I used to be one.) They are so busy.  They have no time for physical rest.  Being that busy is not good, but that does not result in spiritual exhaustion.  James wrote, “Faith without works is dead” – James 2:17 But I would say that “works without faith is also dead.” Just because someone are super busy does not mean that someone is super spiritual.  

Many Christians do good things with the good motive. I do not want to minimize what they do.  But some wear their busyness in the workings of the local church as a badge of honor.  And they confuse natural exhaustion with spiritual exhaustion.  They become “Serv-a-holics”. We used to joke about a friend of ours by saying “God loves you and our friend has a wonderful plan for your life!”  Listen, just because you can does not mean you should.  To know when to say “no”, requires spiritual discernment. 

And if you should experience spiritual exhaustion – rejoice! It is not a bad thing. Praise God that He has chosen to use you for His purpose.  Someone asked me how we do it.  How do we serve for so long in such difficult places?  That moment is a perfect opportunity to “rob God of His glory” and take personal credit for something that was Spirit-enabled. What I told him was, “It was not us who did it.”  Our bodies are just too frail to do what God asks. We need the strength that comes from the Spirit of God. “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6

Something to think about.

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