“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 11:28-29, The Message)
We all have times in our lives when we need to get reacquainted with God’s unforced rhythms of grace. We easily fall prey to the busyness of life that pushes us out of sync with God’s rhythms and leaves us in the perilous position of burning wick instead of oil.
I cannot always tell when it first starts happening to me, but I can always tell when it is done. When my oil reserves run low and I begin burning wick instead of oil, I quickly lose my balance, perspective, and joy. I become edgier, less talkative, more prone to discouragement, and categorically less fun.
It is a deceptive dynamic because a lamp can still burn for a little while when the oil is gone. When a lamp runs out of oil we can mistakenly think it is still functional because it still produces some light. However, if the oil supply is not replenished the wick will very quickly start to burn out.
Burning wick without oil—attempting to live in the power of our strength alone—is a fast track to burnout. And when the oil in our life runs dry, it is not time to suck it up and push through it. It is time to return to our source and get re-fueled.
Have you identified the pace and activity levels that push you toward burnout? Have you identified the steps that help you insure against it? Do you know how to return to God so He can replenish your soul’s oil supply?
King David did. He said, “You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5). Our spiritual and emotional sanity depends on that being our testimony too. Taking time to replenish the oil of our soul is a non-negotiable practice for our long-term health and effectiveness.