Often in this journey of life, we set off on a path that we feel led to traverse, yet we quickly encounter conflicting road signs that try to send us in many different directions – directions designed to subtly guide us farther away from the narrow, God-given path (i.e. His Will) which our Lord has ordained for us to travel. But our faithful God offers His timeless wisdom for all of our journeys in Psalms 37:34 when He declares, “Travel steadily along (My) path.” (NLT) This ‘travel tip’ is similarly echoed in Proverbs 16:9 which declares, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines (directs) his steps (i.e. guides our travels).” My last devotional entry, prepared in early July, was the 3rd part in this timely series on “Battling the Burnout Beast.” ‘My’ plans had me writing the fourth entry in this series the following day – yet God directed me to take a “PAUSE” (i.e. put this devotional series on hold) while He led me down a unique path that would demand every physical, emotional and spiritual ounce of energy from me in order that it be completed. He gave me the “Noahic Summer Project” assignment of painting my house – just He and I! For some of you that may sound a little silly and not really too spiritual – but let me assure you that when God speaks and directs you to undertake a task / assignment of His leading, then we must be responsively obedient! In lieu of my physical health thorns, and the intense struggles surrounding our family’s current season of life, this was truly a “God-sized assignment.” And it also came during some of the hottest summer days which we have seen locally in many years. But for nearly five weeks, I climbed ladders to heights beyond my “comfort limits,” I scraped away pounds of old, bubbled-up paint chips and I cleaned and re-cleaned numerous paint brushes as I seemingly used up enough paint to fill a backyard swimming pool – well, at least it seemed that way! But seriously, through this summer project, God spoke to my heart as He gave me a renewed sense of confidence some basic Biblical truths – first, despite any of my personal limitations, He Himself has no limitations and secondly. we – as His children - can do far more than we often expect or even attempt to do when we fully surrender to receiving His strength in lieu of leaning upon our own. From Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified Bible, the Apostle Paul reminds us of this divine confidence which is available to every genuine believer in the Lord –“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].” It is in this divine strength that we find our true healing from the challenges, pains and disappointments of our yesterdays while instilling a renewed sense of HOPE for all of our tomorrows. From the very first section on the first day that I began painting, the task before me seemed so insurmountable. Like with our own lives, we often yield to the frustrating state of focusing on the tasks / areas that remain unfinished and less upon the areas/tasks which we the Lord has already enabled us to complete. Misdirected focus in our perspective can sometimes lead us to travel down the path of frustration and ungratefulness – assuredly a dead-end path that holds no divine benefit nor kingdom value! But as every day passed, I could see a little more of the ‘Goliath-sized’ project completed and I would derive joy from that day’s accomplishment with gratefulness of heart to the Lord. Moment by moment, the hot days would pass into weeks as I watched more of my house be transformed into its new appearance. What I thought to be so amazing was the depth of spiritual truth which He often revealed to me during this painting project and the sense of reward that I received from Him when I finally completed painting ALL of my house – a task that actually took place twice (i.e. ‘One coat paint’ isn’t always ‘One coat paint’ – a truth I will reserve for another day’s devotion!) We don’t always get to see the “finished product” of the investments and efforts that are entailed in our life ministry /service to others. But His Word reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:58b, “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless (‘your labor in the Lord is not in vain’).” (NLT) My perspective during this entire project was from the sense that I was painting “the Lord’s house” for it is He who truly provides for our family, just as He does for all of our needs (aka - Jehovah Jireh). That Biblical perspective demanded that I give my very best in this task – day by day, brush stroke by brush stroke despite the heat, the pains, or the challenges that often seemed to overwhelm me to the point that I wanted at times just to quit / give up (Psalms 31:24 declares, “Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up!” TM). But whether we are painting a house, cleaning toilets (e.g. an assignment I was given early on during my service on a Hurricane Katrina Disaster Mission back in 2005), working in our daily jobs, sharing an encouraging note with a neighbor/friend or serving in our church, Colossians 3:23-24a teaches us, “Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward.” (Amplified Bible) So as I reflect upon this “Noahic Summer Project,” I can share that the Lord has helped me to better understand that His plan for our defeating the “Burnout Beast” entails an intense spiritual battle that will take time, courage, persistency and complete trust in the Lord for His strength which will only be released when we believe in both His promises to us found in His Word and receive His gift of HOPE that will carry us to the divine land of renewal and restoration. Although our victory in any type of life battle is promised through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57), we, like the Israelites as they entered the Promise Land, will have to fight (i.e. engage the enemies of God) for that promised victory using only the weaponry of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Ephesians 6:10-18). Just as David could only defeat Goliath in the Lord’s strength (1 Samuel 17), we too will only defeat the “Burnout Beast” when we fully surrender the battle over to the Lord and stop trying to fight it in our own strength or with our limited realm of understanding. One final note - despite the ‘feelings’ of loneliness that often accompanies a season of burnout, you and I need to be reminded of the Lord’s assured presence which He promises in His Word, “I am with you always …. I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Matthew 28:20b, Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)) Something I found to be amazing during my painting project was an unseasonable cool breeze would seem to come out of nowhere and refresh me at the moment I felt weakest and when the heat of the day was often the most intense – a unique divine reminder to me of the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence (John 3:8). Just as David knew the Lord was with him as he faced his Goliath, I pray that each of us may share in that same confidence as we battle and defeat the Goliaths of our day (e.g. “Burnout Beast”) through the strength and might that only comes from our glorious Lord Jesus! …Selah!
Today's Spirit-led video by CCM artists Robbie Seay Band and can be viewed by clicking on the on the song title, "Song of HOPE."