February 15, 2012

A Good Exhaustion

I have a vivid memory of youth camp during my senior year in high school in which, during a late-night debriefing of the day's events, I said, "I want to live life in such a way that I fall into bed each night exhausted from serving the Lord."
I'm not sure about the exact wording I used to convey my thoughts, but I specifically remember using the word "exhausted".

My youth minister nodded, but I'm sure on the inside he was laughing hysterically. A teenager knows little about exhaustion, unless it's the morning after a slumber party. What did I know then about the exhaustion that comes from middle-of-the-night feedings or chasing toddlers or the demands of ministry? Nothing, of course. But I said it. And I think I remember it so vividly because it was Spirit-inspired. He was drawing me, preparing me for what was to come.

Perhaps you've gathered from my posts lately that I'm a bit weary, that I recognize my very limited supply in the face of great demand. Likewise, I have not been able to get the searing mental image out of my head of my teenage self spouting my desire to be exhausted for the Lord. Exhaustion, He reminds me, is not always a bad thing.

Exhaustion means that the vital forces are worn right out. Spiritual exhaustion never comes through sin but only through service, and whether or not you are exhausted will depend upon where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter – "Feed My sheep," but He gave him nothing to feed them with. The process of being made broken bread and poured out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you to the dregs. Be careful that you get your supply, or before long you will be utterly exhausted. Before other souls learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus direct, they have to draw on it through you; you have to be literally "sucked," until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and His sheep as well as for Himself. 
Has the way in which you have been serving God betrayed you into exhaustion? If so, then rally your affections. Where did you start the service from? From your own sympathy or from the basis of the Redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually go back to the foundation of your affections and recollect where the source of power is. You have no right to say – "O Lord, I am so exhausted." He saved and sanctified you in order to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that your supply comes from Him. "All my fresh springs shall be in Thee." (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

Most of the time, I am not that bold teenager eager to fall in bed exhausted from serving my Lord. Instead, I avoid exhaustion at all costs. I wrongly believe that the Christian life is comfortable and easy, not about death and pouring out. It shouldn't be this hard, I tell myself. I shouldn't feel so exhausted. But that is usually because I have not returned to Him for my supply. 

How do you distinguish between a good exhaustion and a bad/unhealthy exhaustion?