How to Stay Filled In A Draining Season
Has this season been sucking the life out of you?
Have you been asking: When will my job go back to normal? When will school go back to normal? When will all the fighting stop?
We may feel exhausted by this season but I just remind you, as followers of Jesus we don’t get to quit. Jesus is too worthy and your is calling too high. So, the question isn't can I keep going, but how do we press forward?
I want you to know this: While the circumstances might be draining you don’t have to run on empty. Today I want to explore two ways to stay filled in a draining season.
01. Embrace Limitations.
Have you ever heard a passionate preacher declare, "God has a purpose and calling on your life!" That line will preach. And it's true. But the less popular and inextricably connected truth is that God gives us calling but He also gives us (take a deep breath) limitations.
That phrase bristles against us, doesn't it? Limitations?! A good thing? Certainly not!! Why do we feel disgust at this phrase? We live in a culture that desires unrestrained limitlessness. That’s why people chase after money to the detriment of family, power to the detriment of character, and sexuality to the detriment of the soul.
Christians are not except from this disdain for limits. American Christians are affected by our culture. We have been conditioned by our culture’s narrative of unrestrained limitlessness. But Biblical Christianity is an alternative vision for life that offers a fresh understanding of limitations. Limits, in the Christian conception are necessary for godliness. In fact, in a Chrsitian framework we know that only under severe constraint do we find true freedom.
This flows from the nature of God. In creation God, who is all-powerful, rested on the seventh day. In the incarnation, Jesus "emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (see Philippians 2:7-8) Ultimately, the God of limitless power chose to demonstrate His power through restraint, even to the point of willingly being nailed to a cross. Therefore, when we embrace limitations we reflect the nature of God.
God created humans for limitations too. From Creation to Salvation you are designed for limitation. In creation He restricted our waking hours by creating night. Through the establishment of the Sabbath, restraint was interwoven among God's people Israel. Through the ten commandments, God installed moral boundaries and limitations on culutre. What about the New Testament? We've had a lot of Old Testament references. Well, Salvation in Jesus itself is a coming-to-the-end-of-ourselves, embracing our inability to perform morally, and receiving un-merited grace.
We not only need limitations for a salvation but for our sanctification.
Look, unrestrained indulgence is deadly. It erodes our souls and eventually makes monsters of us. On the other hand, spiritual discipline can be understood as redemptive limitation. In spiritual discipline we purposefully impose limits upon ourselves in order to kill sin, cultivate Christ-nearness, and grow in Christ-likeness. Just as no athlete becomes the GOAT without extreme training and limits on diet, no Christian becomes mature without the limitations of spiritual discipline. We are sanctified by limitation.
Today, God sovereignly imposes limits on you. The only question is what are you going to do with it? In this season, what sovereign limits has He placed on you? Have there been flights cancelled, achievements stifled, or unusual difficulty in creating momentum? What could God be trying to produce through those limitations? Humility? Character? Patience? Or even grit?
Press into the Holy Spirit as you face limitations and allow Him to use them for His redemptive purpose in your life. While it can be feel like a real burden to be restrained in some senses, it can also be an invitation to surrender more fully to God’s sovereignty and accept that you are not self-sufficient, but entirely dependent on God.
Ask God to do more through your prayers to Him than you could through your activity. Ask him to breathe on your ministry, into your family, and throughout your work, making it effective in ways that none of your efforts could. In brief: embrace your limitations.
02 Get Recharged.
There is a battery in your soul. Unlike the energizer bunny, it doesn’t keep going and going and going... We’re designed with the need to recharge. But before you whip out a hammock and schedule a vacation, I want to caution you: rest is necessary, but it's not the same as recharging.
Have you ever asked someone how their vacation went, and they responded, “I need a vacation from my vacation”? You can rest but be zapped of life. That’s because rest is not the deepest longing of your soul. Jesus said it best in Matthew 4:4, “...Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Ultimately, your soul needs the rest of Hebrews 4 when the author writes, "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God." What is truly recharging? It’s being in presence of the Father, at the feet of Jesus, and filled with the Spirit. God Himself is our ultimate recharge.
I remember the loneliest season of my life was when my wife and I were working opposite schedules in Sacramento California. I was exhausted all the time, working nights and feeling discouraged as I was trying to share the Gospel with my hardened unbelieving coworkers. One day the company I was working for called me to say they were closing down and I was out of a job. Things were stacking up.
What was crazy is when I got that call. I happened to be on my way to a church planting conference in Southern California where we would hear amazing bible teachers like Matt Chandler. Despite it being one of the most discouraging possible weekends, it was also one the most encouraging weekend of my life. Why? Because even though my circumstances were physically and mentally draining, I was filled up spiritually from the robust teaching of God’s Word.
That’s what your soul needs. What would it take for you to engage with God’s Word in a way that keeps you fiull? What if you took a morning this week to go on a prayer walk with God alone? What if you tackled the strenuous-yet-filling-task of getting up at 6:00am and reading a who book of the Bible like Daniel or Hebrews this week? Chances are that though your rest would be less your soul would be full.