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.
Are you tired? Physically exhausted, emotionally spent, weary, worn, depleted? Me too. I have been there….shoot, some days, I still am there! We all get tired, we all get weary of our work, of our schedules, of carrying the emotional baggage that is caused by our past or present circumstances. Of course, when I was into my disorder and actively practicing negative behaviors, this sense of being completely spent, empty, was part of the draw of it all. If I was exhausted, I did not have to deal with any of the things in my life that needed attention. From the everyday things of laundry and caring for my kids, to the deeper issues in my relationships and in my heart. I lived for the next nap time, the next bed time. But even after the rest, I woke up still tired, still void of energy. Sure, I could down a million diet cokes, red bulls, or 5-hour energy drinks, but they never seemed to actually give me “sustainable” energy. I still moved along at a slow pace. Waiting for the next time to sleep.
What about now…as a “recovered” person, certainly better nutrition, exercise habits, and self-care have removed all of this pesky, life-slowing weariness out of my days, right? Well, yes and no. Obviously not being an extreme exerciser, making sure I get enough calories and nutrients in my body daily, and resting when my body says, “enough already”, has increased my physical and mental energy. I no longer walk around like a ravenous zombie—hungry and in want of rest. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t get tired or worn-out. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel spent or depleted, empty. Here is an example from the other day…
I had been going pretty steady for about 10 days. My schedule was packed with field-trips, baseball games, extra events at work. My typical ‘down-time’ was not going to happen during these busy days, but I knew that it was temporary, and that it was important for me to be present with my family and co-workers. Wednesday night came and it was time for me to go to church to lead a KidFIT class and COREpilates afterwards. My kids were cranky…I was cranky. My plan A and plan B for KidFIT had fallen through, so I was going in blind…no plans except to entertain 20 2nd & 4th graders while their parents were in discipleship groups. I went in already done. Tired. Spent. Empty. I didn’t think I had any left to give. And I was right. After 10 days of running…I hit the wall. My Children’s Director noticed my weary face and gave me some encouragement, a hug and some kind words. She was sympathetic to my plight—she too is familiar with said wall—however, the kids were coming and I needed to “be there”…not just in body, but in mind and spirit. Although the first few minutes in class were rough, getting kids focused and settled. As we continued to move and work together, something happened. I “woke up” — and the wall was gone! What happened? Had I smashed through it? Had it fallen down? There I was finishing one class and getting ready to start another with more energy than I had when I started! As I later reflected on this, I realized that in my service beyond my own strength, I had received HIS! The Lord had renewed my strength! I hadn’t smashed through the wall, I had flown over it!
Before I get too “high” and mighty though, I need to stop here.
You see, I don’t really think that God renewed my strength, I believe He gave me His. Philippians 4:13 Says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I used to think that this meant that Christ was giving me more strength. Now, as I consider this verse, I notice that it says “Christ who gives me strength”—in other words, not just some of my strength, but all of it.
Colossians 1:29 also refers to the strength of God in us: “To this end I labor, struggling with all HIS energy, which so powerfully works in me.” So the strength I have, with which I struggle, is His. Not mine. Not for my purposes. When I seek to fulfill my own agenda, my own desires, my own plan, my energy fails. I run out. When I labor for God, He equips me with energy, power, and strength. When I sought to serve myself, my eating disorder, my selfish desires, I was always exhausted, never feeling the “lift” of a soaring eagle. Even now, when I am working selfishly, I tend to burn out and never feel caught up. I become resentful of all that “I” have to do. But when I choose to labor for God’s glory, though it may be a struggle at times, I am renewed. I still need food and rest, I still need physical renewal, but it is only in Him that I live and move and have my true, energized, being.
My recovery followed this same pattern for renewal and restoration. As long as I sought to recover in my own strength, I could not quite get the strength I needed to heal fully. Only after I submitted my life and recovery to Christ and was emptied of my own personal recovery agenda was I able to get enough lift to rise out of the valley…filled by the strength that never fades and the love that never runs out on me.