Call me a wuss, but after three shifts of work, I’m exhausted. Last night was probably the worst. I started the shift feeling a little energetic and lively, but once we got slammed for about an hour straight, I started to feel it. I haven’t had a job for almost two full years, so my job stamina has dropped dramatically. I’m rarely on my feet for five or six hours straight in my spare time. And after the rush started to subside, my feet ached, my back was terribly sore, and my energy was just about gone. Fatigue hit me like a freight train.
As I was driving home, though, I wondered about the last time I was fatigued by my faith. It might sound strange, being tired out from believing in God, but I think – when all the elements of the Christian faith are considered – I really ought to be fatigued in the faith more often than I have been. For instance, I don’t pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Given all the troubles of the world that I’m aware, it would take me about an hour and a half to pray for them all just by merely mentioning them. God knows I’m a chatter box when I really get into praying, though. But that’s just it; I don’t feel fatigued in my walk with God and I really believe I should be.
It doesn’t stop at praying, though, and this (I hope) is obvious. Walking with God means seeking to display His love, His glory, His light to the world around us – be it the workplace, the classroom, or just in ordinary places. If God is with us wherever we go, then we carry His light wherever we go. And if we’re to constantly display that light, then we’re to constantly be aware of our mission. But in order to display this light, we have to strain to follow in His ways, to think with a Jesus-mentality, and love in a Christ-like manner.
It’s tough to do. It’s so hard to live, to truly live, for the gospel. Praying about everything and everyone who I think needs prayer, refreshing myself in God’s ways by reading my Bible on a daily basis, and using that recharged energy to display His light in the dark places of the world should take a lot out of me. Paul writes in several of his letters that he and his coworkers (fellow laborers) would frequently pull all-nighters in their ministry for the Lord. And it’s not like Paul was wasting his daylight hours; he was a worker with leather (Acts 18:3), which I imagine was quite demanding work. So for him to work an ordinary job during the day and then commit all of himself (even staying up all night) to serving God’s people indicates to me that maybe our renewed lives in Jesus are supposed to be a little more tiring.
Does this mean we should all pull all-nighters to read, worship, and pray? Not necessarily. I’ve actually been a part of several all-nighter worship/prayer events and they’re actually encouraging, especially if you have a frequently busy schedule in this ordinary world. What I do think being exhausted for the faith should mean, though, is a little more effort on our end to amplify Jesus in any way we can. For me, it means writing more. Whether it’s been a lack of inspiration, a lack of ambition, or both, I haven’t been writing as often as I used to. A few months ago, I was on a 215-page per year pace in my journal. As of today, my pace is only at 181 pages per year. I know this seems ridiculous to most people, but to me it is a legitimate concern. It makes me wonder if I’m really passionate about writing. It makes me wonder if this is something I’m still supposed to be pursuing.
I believe it is, to be sure. Just the other day I felt the desire, the drive, and the joy of punching out thousands of words in a single day, even though that journal entry will never be published. For me and my journal, it’s not about what potential profit I could gain; it’s about merely responding to the things God teaches me and just the stuff that goes on in life. That’s why I write; to process the things God reveals to me and maybe pass it along to others for their benefit (i.e. post them as blogs or Facebook notes). And the fact that I haven’t been writing much indicates to me that I must not be doing much for God or learning much from God.
Regardless of whether or not that is true, fatiguing myself for the faith I hold in God and for the faith I share with others – I believe – is something I should strain towards. No, I’m not going to tire myself out just so that I can say that I’m fatigued for the faith. But what I am going to do is work a little more. It makes one wonder what Jesus was really saying to His disciples when He said that the “laborers are few,” (Matt. 9:37). Was He just saying that few are chosen for this or was He also saying that the few laborers who are willing to work are going to have to work hard?
After working only three 6-hour shifts, I would have to imagine myself dead if I had to work a double shift in one day. But the life that God calls us into – the life full of prayer, worship, communion, fellowship, community, and gospel-amplification – is like working a triple shift every single day. It’s not like an earthly job; there isn’t a separation of the workplace and the home. The work we’re called to do can be done anywhere and everywhere we go. Abstaining from sinful conduct or thought, seeking to show God’s love as well as to talk about it, and praying ceaselessly to keep that connection to God strong are all things we can do while we’re going about our days. Unlike an ordinary job, we can’t clock in to work for God and then clock out when we’ve complete the shift. These work shifts never end and there is never schedule; it’s every day, everywhere, and through everything that we think, say or do.
No, living out the gospel doesn’t mean you’re always going to be tired. It just means that there is always work to be done for God’s glory – even if it means staying up until 3 in the morning (like I’m doing right now) just to make sure it gets done.
I’m starting to love my job and sometimes I even love the feeling of exhaustion after a hard day’s work. I want to feel that way about God and the faith that I live with and for. I want to lie down each night knowing that I was productive during the day. I want to rest well after working well. Too often I think that I must rest well before I can truly work well. But as I have found, that is a lame excuse for laziness. And I’m talking in the sense of faith, not just every day, ordinary things like going to work or paying the bills or cleaning the house. Too often I’m like the workers in Matthew 20:6-7 who stood around idle all day waiting for someone to come along and hire them instead of seeking to do the work, to take the initiative, to tire and exhaust myself in labor for the faith. Too often I’m not fatigued in the faith.