A Frantic Bundle of Hollow Energy

Richard Foster trumpets the need for recovery from racing routines in his classic book “Simplicity of Freedom”. If you have not read it – it would make a good read over the slower upcoming Christmas season.

In the book he expresses his heart about activity and busyness and the problem of both balance and burn-out…

He states… “I function best when I alternate between periods of intense activity and of comparative solitude. When I understand this about myself, I can order my life accordingly. After a certain amount of immersion in public life, I begin to burn out. And I have noticed that I burn out inwardly long before I do outwardly. Hence I must be careful not to become a frantic bundle of hollow energy, busy among people but devoid of life. I must learn when to retreat like Jesus and experience the recreating power of Jesus.”

I really like that phrase: “a frantic bundle of hollow energy” as that is how I feel after 6 or 7 days of being on the road, living in hotels, and ministering to people. Now, I do try to have some time away from the assignment each day – but I usually end up spending that time reading for some future teaching opportunity (the next week’s ministry), doing emails, scheduling travel days and booking hotels, or troublehooting something on my cell phone somewhere in the world where the fan is on and someone is shoveling… So, “no rest for the wicked” or “no rest for the weary”. My own fault – and only I can do something about it.

I am new to being on the road ministering – at least the duration and frequency is new. I have always done some travelling each week but often day trips. I am also recognizing that I am in my early 60’s and so can’t keep the pace I use to keep in my 30’s and 40’s. Moving a bit slower than I use to. And, with the kind of intense ministry I now have – prophetic revelation (teaching), prophetic ministry to God’s people, and usually working with wounded pastors and injured churches (and leadership) that the direction my ministry has taken is much more draining than simply being a Bible teacher and running conferences and seminars.

I am writing this Thursday morning – and I have been back two days from my last road trip. I am just beginning to feel whole again – physically and spiritually. I have been moving slowly and working only part days on purpose as I need to recharge due to being on the road again on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week…. Of course moving slower means unanswered emails (265 at the moment), unopened mail, and a mess of backlogged work in the office part of my ministry structure here in my home. However, again – a stress to learn to live with as I need that ebb and flow Richard Foster so ably describes and articulates on in his book.

Read the quote again…

“I function best when I alternate between periods of intense activity and of comparative solitude. When I understand this about myself, I can order my life accordingly. After a certain amount of immersion in public life, I begin to burn out. And I have noticed that I burn out inwardly long before I do outwardly. Hence I must be careful not to become a frantic bundle of hollow energy, busy among people but devoid of life. I must learn when to retreat like Jesus and experience the recreating power of Jesus.”

Great wisdom is contained in those words! Nothing worse than being “a frantic bundle of hollow energy” as that does not make for great ministry nor is it the way the Lord would have us to function. So, I am watching my ‘ebb and flow’ and working on learning a new rhythm of grace. Read the words of Jesus I have ben trying to live by…

“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 – what how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message Version.

Two great quotes – put them together and you have wisdom for today – and every day!

9 replies
  1. Sharon Kuhn
    Sharon Kuhn says:

    Wisdom is one thing and putting it into action is quite another I find. I am still learning the right balance between alone time with the Lord and time doing for the Lord (or self) sometimes I can’t tell the difference. the wisest thing I’ve learned over the last few months is that I need toput everything in God’s hands the beinging of EACH day and then let Him guide me through them, that seems to be the only way I can actually accopmplish anythign. Left to my own devices, I’m famous for starting 100 things and barely finishing a few, and yet I can run all day long. This too is learning process. To rely totally on Him for our strength.
    Sharon

    Reply
  2. Bev Wensel
    Bev Wensel says:

    …interesting that “balance” is spoken of today rt after our Wed nite prayer, & our asking the Lord to shown us how to balance our natural work & our spiritual life (ie His agenda & not ours & though well meaning, often off the mark!)…that Mary vs Martha thing…& it’s not either/or but both are required…but who shld show up when,”there’s the rub” 🙂
    I like the sound of this bk R… that phrase is a good one…that very vs in Mat led me bk to the Lord yrs ago, so it’s one that still spks to me/my DNA makeup…an important thing for me was to see that we’re all diff. & it’s OK not to fit the conventional mold {even well meaning Christian ones}God l-o-v-e-s variety, so why do we try so hard to be the same…..strange?!
    Like R. Foster said, “When I understand this about myself…” ah ha…there’s a Selah for us.
    BW

    Reply
  3. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Sharon and Bev,

    I know Richard Foster talks about balance. But I’m not so sure it is really an issue of balance. Christians talk about staying balanced or balancing their time doing spiritual things with the time they spend with their family. I agree with quality family time and the intention of what believers mean when talking about balance.

    My problem is that I don’t see balance in the life of Jesus – and neither did His family who thought that He had lost it and was going overboard with His ministry and the time He spent meeting needs, teaching and ministering. I also don’t see balance in the life of Paul the apostle either.

    So, I am not sure I would say it is a problem of balance – but maybe an issue of connectedness – staying connected to Jesus at all times – when busy and in public ministering and when recharging our batteries or recovering from a few weeks of very public and active ministry and so seeking solitude and rest. Maybe “connectedness” is a better word than balance. Don’t know!

    Any thoughts?

    Reply
  4. sheila carpenter
    sheila carpenter says:

    Someone has well said, “only function in HIS unction, let HIS peace umpire your heart.” As I was communing with the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT at a stop sign the other night, a honk behind me let me know that we have not yet been raptured. Constant communion with HIM while attending to HIS assignments is possible and we need to heed the red flags of HIS correction.

    Reply
  5. Bev Wensel
    Bev Wensel says:

    …connectedness…is that a word,ha!:-)… but I see what you’re getting at R. & so it has a diff. quality of meaning to it…….here’s a thought I just had…If we’re to do EVERYTHING as unto the Lord,(and we are) then there is no diff. between family or business “time” or school or church “time”, as it is then ALL spiritual/God time in that sense…so if we truly are doing this & thus “connected” ie. walking in a connectedness attitude of heart, then The H.S. will keep us in line/balanced/ or moderation in all health issues…so,yes, R. I’d say we agree! BW

    Reply
  6. Sharon Kuhn
    Sharon Kuhn says:

    Thank you for the word connectedness. It does make more sense than balance,to me balance always reminds me of a highwire act which sometimes I feel like I’, on, but when you explain connectedness that does make more sense. and for sure Jesus was fanatical about His ministry. I guess then I must decide then that my whole life is either a ministry or not regardless of who I’m with and when and where, as I live the life of christ it should always be with ministry in mind.
    Sharon

    Reply
  7. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Hi Sheila,

    Good to hear from you again. Thanks for visiting the blog. Right you are – we need to be consistently and even daily spending intimate time with the Lord Jesus. I appreciate time at red lights and in parking lots waiting for my next appointment – However, lengthy quality time alone in solitude and stillness are absolutely essential as well. The Lord likes longer, uninterrupted time with you which does not happen when on the go.

    In my office structure (in my home) I have a study and an office. The office is your normal – computers, printers, phone lines, etc. But the study is without telephones and printers – I do use a small laptop for writing (not hooked to emails). This way I can be separate from the “business / activity” side of things until I have had my quiet time (mostly not so quiet time as He does speak to me) with the Lord. He should be first each day in our lives whenever possible!

    Reply
  8. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Bev,

    You got it! The whole of life – for a Christian – is sacred. And, as Paul states, we are to do all things as unto the Lord. So, if we stay connected to the Lord (intimacy) all day – which means sensitive to His leading and to His voice – then we are doing all things as unto Him. We will also be much more aware of the doors of opportunity that open allowing us to witness and share our life changing testimony.

    So, yes, we agree and are on the same page. This connectedness then takes the “hectic” out of the busy lives we live as we walk in the peace of God and minister from the center/calm of the storm going on around us.

    Wow! God is so good to us!

    Reply
  9. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Sharon,

    That’s right – as you live your life you simply share the most important part of your life – Jesus! You do this in the grocery store, on the street, in a coffee shop, with friends, at work, while visiting family. The sharing of the Gospel is a way of life and not something we put on and “do”. It is something we are. And ministry is the same. If we are ministering the love of Jesus – we can certainly do that everywhere and with everyone.

    So, it ties our lives together and we are no longer living a compartmentalized life – but one that is whole and healed. We are living as “Christ-centered Christians” in community with others who are also Christ-Centered. He is involved in and impacts all and every aspect and activity of life.

    Reply

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