I am a creature of weakness and so are you. All of us get tired, achy, grumpy, weary, cranky, hungry, sleepy, and just generally worn-out. This happens every day. No matter how much sleep you get, how well you eat, or whatever you do to refuel, your energy runs out. And if you try to keep going, you’ll eventually burn out.
Our Creator is the only being full of strength and no weaknesses. Only God never gets tired. We can either ignore the reality of our creaturely weakness, and try to act like we are strong when we are weak; or, we can accept our weakness and embrace God and his means to strengthen us.
In the book Zeal without Burnout, Christopher Ash offers a personal pledge for us, creatures of dust, as a way to confess our need for God.
“I am – and will never, this side of the resurrection, be more than – a creature of dust. I will rest content in my creaturely weakness. I will use the means God has given me to keep going in this life while I can. I will allow myself time to sleep. I will trust him enough to take a day off each week. I will invest in friendships and not be a proud loner. I will take with gladness the inward refreshment he offers me. I will serve the Lord Jesus with a glad and restful zeal, with all the energy that he works within me, but not with anxious toil, selfish ambition, the desire for the praise of people, and all the other ugly motivations that will destroy my soul. So help me God.” – Zeal without Burnout, Christopher Ash
It is a relief to acknowledge that “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). Of course through faith in Jesus Christ and his resurrection, there is a hope for eternal life and a glorified body. But for now, we live in dust. And so, let’s rest content in our creaturely weakness – it’s the reality of how God created us. Only when we are honest about our condition are we in a position to rely on God and the means he’s given us to keep going in this life. Ash mentions five areas to focus on:
- Daily Sleep: It’s so simple, it’s silly – yet also profound. If you don’t prioritize getting enough sleep, you won’t have enough energy to live for God. You can’t skimp on a good night’s sleep and think you’ll be more productive. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Psa. 127:2). There is always more to do. Trust in God enough to go to sleep.
- Weekly Rest: Taking one day to rest from work was a law for Israel. It is one of God’s Ten Commandments, and it is ingrained into the created order (Exo. 20:9-11). Taking one day off each week to rest is good and godly wisdom. Rest keeps us productive, happy, and healthy. Taking a day off doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means intentionally engaging in activities that restore and refresh your body and your soul.
- Intentional Friendship: This might seem like a strange one for some people. What does my creaturely weakness have to do with friendship? Well, after God created Adam from dust, he said it wasn’t good for him to be alone (Gen 2:28). Whether or not you are married, you need companionship. If you are not intentional about friendship, Ash says you’ll eventually become a proud loner. Did you catch that? Thinking you can do life alone is driven by pride. Only through partnership with others can we excel in family, work, and ministry (Phi. 1:3-5). The company of a good friend is like sweet perfume to refresh your soul (Pro. 27:9, Rom. 15:32).
- Inward Refreshment: Because we are creatures of dust, we must regularly refuel and refresh our bodies. We must do the same thing for our souls. God offers us inward refreshment through the Word, prayer, fellowship, and worship. In the presence of the Holy Spirit, you’ll find green pastures and still waters to restore your soul (Psa. 23:2-3). Remember, the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies (Rom 8:11)!
- God’s Energy: Although we are creatures of weakness, we can do great things with God and for God. We should zealously serve the Lord Jesus, and seek to bear much fruit! But to do so, I need to toil “with all his energy that he powerfully works within me (Col. 1:29). If you try to push through life with anxious toil, selfish ambition, people-pleasing, and all the other ugly motivations of this fallen world – you’ll just wear yourself out.
We all know people who ignored their creaturely weakness and ended up burning out. Your body and your soul can only handle so much. Instead, rest content in your creaturely weakness, and use all the means God has given you to keep going in the life he has given you.