Today, however, it was my turn. As I read through my morning devotions in Charles Swindoll's book, Come Before Winter, I just had to shake my head and say, "Wow, that's me. He's definitely talking about me." This is what he had to say:
. . .Perhaps you can identify rather easily with Jonah. This hasn't been your all-time-spiritual-high-plateau year, right? You've dodged and ducked, squirmed and squeaked your way through one Tarshish trip after another. But no more. You're tired. Exhausted says it better. Swallowed alive by your circumstances says it best. You feel oppressed, guilty, overused, and underdeveloped. You're not that old. . . but you've run a long way. Few moons but many miles. A subtle whisper in your ear says, "You're through. Finished. Burned out. Used up. . . "
Exhausted? You have no idea. Overused and underdeveloped? Now there's the understatement of the year! I had a goal for 2015, and that goal was to be the best "me" I could possibly be--to put my all into everything I did. I wanted to grow spiritually, strengthen my marriage, improve my health, spend more time on my writing and so much more. Now, the year is already one-third over, and I haven't accomplished any of that. If anything, things have gone downhill rather than improving. Where does the time go? What happened to the energy? How can I possibly be so tired yet have accomplished so little of my yearly goals?
To answer that question, I think back to a couple of weeks ago when I was tempted to write a blog posts entitled, "You Want a Piece of Me? Too Bad. There's None Left!" Since this year began, it seems I've had people asking for favors. "Can you help me with this?" "Since you're so good at this, we thought you were the perfect person for the job." "Hi there. I know we haven't talked in a while, but I need a favor." And the thing is, I want to help. I want to be a true friend. I want to be there when a friend or family member needs my aid. But for whatever reason, the past four months have been spent "being there" for others and "helping" with their responsibilities, all the while neglecting my own. And the neglect has taken its toll physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually.
Perhaps you know exactly what I'm talking about. Out of a heart of love and generosity, you give of yourself time and time again, but all the while, your own goals and responsibilities are going unfulfilled. What do you do? What do I do? First off, I know I need to freshen up my ability to say, "I'm sorry, but no, I can't help you today." It's hard for me to say "no," but unless I do, I'm never going to get my own work done. Besides, I know that my true friends will understand that I had to say "no" because I have other obligations to attend to. (Despite what many seem to think, I don't sit at home and eat chocolate all day while watching television.)
Secondly, we need to find some balance. There is a time to do for others and a time to do for ourselves. We need to learn the difference, and that comes through prayer and guidance from the Lord. If you remember, there were several instances in the Bible where Jesus tried to get away from the crowds. Didn't He want to help them? Sure, He did, but He understood the importance of balance. We need to learn the same.
I hope you understand that today's post was not intended to make you feel sorry for me or to make anyone who has asked for help from a friend to feel guilty or ashamed. That's not it at all. It was more about a realization that God gave me this morning through the words of my devotion and one that I felt He would have me share with you.
Jonah ran from Ninevah because he didn't want to do the work the Lord called him to do. I, on the other hand, would love to be able to do the work the Lord has called me to do. But even though I desire to do the work, I'm still running from it by allowing so many other things to take up my time and energy. And in that way, I'm no better than Jonah. I'm not doing the work, and frankly, I'm tired of running. I'm ready to get back on track. After all, it's the Lord's work that I'm eager to do, so it's time to get busy doing the right things, not just good things.