READ: Psalm 27, Isaiah 40-42, John 20, Acts 6 

EXCHANGED STRENGTH

We are not supposed to come to the end of our lives with energy left over. We are purposed to be poured out as an offering. What a shame if we enter heaven with resources of any kind in storage, rather than all our being and possessions lavishly poured out for Jesus and for the gospel. If a long distance runner gets to the end of his or her race with energy abounding, he did not run wisely. When we run to win, we run with the intention of using every single portion of our resources, saving enough only for one last burst at the end. Running in this manner invites both the criticism of friends and the astonishment of enemies. Some will think we run too fast; others will condemn us for pacing too slow. No outward observer can fully know the inward obedience we adhere to. We must keep plodding according to the inward rhythm of the Spirit, determined to never stop, determined to spend and be spent for the gospel. A determination like this inevitably pushes us to the edge of what is possible. Soldiers, athletes, and farmers do some of their most important work when they are stretched to their limits and are tired.

Isaiah 40:31 is a great comfort to those who purpose to live tired in service of the King. What keeps God’s long-term runners steady when youths around them faint with weariness and young men utterly fall? “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” The Hebrew root of “renew” has strong implications of “exchange.” Those that abide in Jesus will exchange their strength with His. In the midst of our constant struggle, when we take time on a daily basis to linger with Jesus–to give Him extravagant time–He exchanges strengths with us. This is the secret of living and dying tired. Jesus takes our pitiful, receding, limited strength and in return gives us His! Jesus gives divine energy to those who wait on Him. Jesus takes our fatigue, our weariness, our discouragement, and our fading energy and exchanges it with His empowered life force.

Jesus expects us to eat right, sleep well, and be consistent in physical exercise; His divine energy is not a magic pill that covers our stupidity or neglect. But even when we are disciplined in these practical areas of life, the demands of ministry and service are unyielding. The only way to push through the inevitable fatigue that accumulates on body and soul is to wait on the Lord. Abiding in Jesus has ramifications on the whole person–body, mind, and spirit. When abiding becomes the anchor of our rhythm, we learn the skill of resting while we labor, of steadily putting one foot after the other, burning up our resources even as we are steadily and divinely supplied. Abiding gives us the wisdom to calibrate our journey perfectly so that we burst through the final tape consumed yet conquering.

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