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Chapter 1 - Your Personal Energy Crises
The global economic and propaganda struggle over the oil market has monopolized the term "energy crisis." In the home and at the special personal levels of your life and my life we have our own personal energy crises to resolve. That is what this book on your right to rest is all about. You and your friends talk (do you not?) of being exhausted, overscheduled, and fatigued. You see your friends, and maybe find yourself also, eating high-calorie foods, drinking caffeine-loaded beverages, or not being able to sleep as expressions of your inability to rest. At work, we may find that fatigue and exhaustion are the assumed way of life of you and your coworkers. Working as I do in a large medical center, I often think that the medical profession itself has made fatigue a permanent way of life. I see much creativity of thought dissipated by fatigue and depleted energy, not only among physicians, but also in business, industry, and education. Yes, the personal energy crisis is at large among us and that is the reason I write, to apprise you of your right to rest.
An Agenda for Facing Your Energy Crises
Let me suggest an agenda for your and my use in self-examination. Understand my covenant with you as my reader: I will suggest problems for our agenda, yes; but throughout the book I will also point to specific ways whereby you can begin now to resolve these problems. Thus you will meet your own personal energy crisis head-on and start replenishing and renewing your energies through the restorative powers of rest.
In our exploration of ways to solve our personal energy crises, my plan is to discuss the following issues as you have to face them each day of your life:
- Work, wisely done in moderation, makes rest more renewing. Fatigue reduces effectiveness in work.
- The natural rhythm of your life maintains your alertness and well-being. The rituals of your life bring ease and direction when they are personally chosen.
- Being out of breath makes rest difficult; your breathing patterns, carefully disciplined, renew your energies.
- Sleep gathers up the raveling sleeve of care and restores the perspective of your life. It is one of the natural healers of depression. Sleep assuages pain, although much pain over long periods of time causes disorders in your sleep. Settling or "making up your mind" about important decisions enables you to sleep better. Medications are often a short-term gift of God in regulating your sleep, if they are taken with thanksgiving and prayer (I Tim. 4:4–5). Yet medications may become a substitute for actively disciplining yourself to rest naturally. You decide which.
- Greed, a rarely confessed sin, fuels the fantasy of being totally at ease. Thus, you and I may mistake ease for genuine rest. We may be carried away with our greed to such an extent that we see no need for sleep.
- Having a home, a haven, a place to stand with purpose and to be in fellowship with people who accept you and love you is a wellspring of rest.
- To pray without ceasing is, at its center, to come to rest in God, a rest in God in the midst of the most intense struggles. This is the prayer of rest.
- Rest is the gift of God in Christ. We are not most alive if always at complete rest. The human heart has its resting and working states that need each other. Not even God's work is ever finally completed. Particular tasks are finished, though. Then God gives the rest that provides the parentheses between tasks well done. The power of the resurrection is the source and pattern for the renewal of life, even after death.
My plan is to discuss each of the above assertions so that they become conversations with you as my reader instead of assertions of my own. I hope to meet you where you are in your day's demands at "the burning of the noontide heat and the burden of the day." I come to you as one who struggles for rest and renewal just as you do.
Fatigue and depletion of energy are no respecters of persons, nor are they limited to one age group or one class of persons.
God is no respecter of persons, either. God enters your and my personal energy crises just as he did in the days of Jesus' earthly ministry. Notice some specific instances of this.
Jesus' Personal Energy Crises
After Herod had John the Baptist beheaded, the work of ministry of Jesus' disciples in their teaching and healing was all the more strenuous. Jesus "said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.' For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat" (Mark 6:31).
At another time, Jesus "had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well" (John 4:4–6).
You and I often feel distant from God in our fatigue, but God came near to us is Jesus and experienced our need for rest and our bone-tired weariness in the days of his earthly life. You are not alone in your energy crisis.
A Plan of Action
Let me, as an undershepherd of Jesus Christ, open conversation with you, then, in the following pages of this book. Let us converse about the specific meanings of rest in your life and some special ways you can go about creating breathing room, resting space, renewal time to replenish your energies for the living of these days. I want to move from the concrete situations that deplete your energies to specific ways to conserve your resting times and places, to ways in which, through the disciplines of the spiritual life, you may generate new sources of strength.
Your human organism, once thought to have a fixed, genetically coded amount of energy, is now being seen, not as nonrenewable like fossil energy, but as a renewable form of energy. The prophet Isaiah put it this way:
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hid from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God"?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary,
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.