Tell me if you have ever been here or not: You know that you have a very busy schedule in front of you, and your focus upon its business drains some (or much) of your needed energy even before you begin.  In other words, just when you need all of your energy, and perhaps a little more, you find yourself wasting some of that energy on thoughts that in essence are counterproductive.  The end result is that you have made the tasks in front of you more difficult than they originally were.
I found myself sinking into this quicksand earlier this week.  It started when our time away wasn’t quite as restful as hoped because of a sewer issue at the cottage.  This was followed by thoughts of how to organize my schedule upon our return on Tuesday.  Then, thankfully, I caught myself and said, “What am I doing?  If I keep going this way, I am going to make myself tired even before I start!”
With that, the Spirit sent my thoughts back to some of the very words I have recently been using to encourage others.  “God is our refuge” – our sanctuary, our safe resting place, and the one who prepares us for all that is to come – “and our strength” – the one who enables us to say, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4.13) – “a very present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear though the earth give way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.” (Psalm 46.1-2) “Be still,” he goes on to say, “and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46.10) Once I started focusing upon my problems through the lens of God’s promises, my energy was renewed, my angst diminished, and my productivity soared (well, almost).
Of course, there was a parallel track going at the same time upon which I was not so successful.  The cottage roof needed cleaning, but I was not looking forward to climbing the ladder and spending 30-60 minutes up there blowing needles to the ground.  So, day after day, I put the task off, while the dread grew.  Finally, on the last day, I had run out of options.  Grudgingly I climbed up, completed the task, and was done with it.  But, oh, the agony I would have saved myself if I had just done it right away.
I often find Sunday sermon writing to follow a similar pattern.  When I do things ‘according to schedule’ – with my research on Monday and the actual writing the next day – things go smooth and easy.  However, the more I delay the process, the more difficult it becomes.  And when it’s Friday when I finally sit down to do the writing, I find that, once again, I am tired even before I start.  Perhaps if I spent that extra time in prayer rather than in procrastination the story would be different.
How does our Savior put it through the pen of his prophet?  “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 be faint.” (Isaiah 40.28-31)
Yes, I know the solution sounds way too easy for such a challenging issue – but, if it works, …!  And what is that solution?  I will repeat myself: “focusing upon our problems through the lens of God’s promises.”  I really think this is what Jesus is talking about when he says, “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15.4-5)
Does God want us to be filled with angst because of the problems and challenges we face?  I think not – but he does not want us to ignore them, either.  Thus, the difference maker I suggest is the “lens of his promises.”  Jesus himself promises, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14.27) Personally, I think the world’s ways are what give me the angst that makes me tired even before I start.  In one place Paul assures us that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4.7) and in another he blesses us with “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.” (2 Thessalonians 3.16)
Now, if you are wondering if I have perfected this art, you better go back and re-read the first few paragraphs.  Those were just a couple illustrations from a much longer list.  However, as you can see, I am working on it … and as I do, I am also working on sharing with you what I am discovering.  If you have a favorite promise that helps you through the challenging times, please let me know – because I need all the help I can get, so that on a busy day like tomorrow I won’t be tired even before I start!

Tired Even Before I Start