"Those who look to Him are radiant with joy." Psalm 34:5....."When people look at you, do they see self-sufficiency, or reliance on a greater sufficiency?......Self-sufficiency dishonors God." Chris Tiegreen
In 35 years of ministry, I can look back upon a number of times when I was laboring unto the point of utter exhaustion, what is commonly called "burn out." In all those places, at root, I was laboring in a dependency on myself and not Him. When that happens, and it is so easy for it to be so, exhaustion and burn out are the inevitable fruit. When we lose our dependent and trusting connection to Him, the only thing we can expect is eventual defeat.
Our "faces," both the one people see every day, and the one which is the face of our heart, show forth our real state. We can put on a mask to disguise our outer face, we can never do that with our heart....though most of us try very hard to do so. Are you trying to do that right now?
The condition of the believer is to be one of "radiant joy." This is something far more than a happy feeling. It is a state of the heart and the spirit. It produces a glow in the life of a believer that he world in all of its fury, toil, and care cannot take away. Stephen displayed that radiance as he was being stoned to death by the angry crowd. Saul, standing by, saw that radiance and it so impacted him that his hard, self-reliant heart was broken by the Jesus Christ he encountered on the Damascus Road. Thereafter, that radiance marked his life as well. Through stonings, beatings, shipwrecks, prison, and death, he had the radiant joy of the Lord.
We live in a fallen world that is committed to wearing down and wearing out its inhabitants, especially those who are His. To be a husband, father, wife and mother, is an awesome responsibility, and that goes far beyond earning a living. Leading a family, husbands and wives ministering to each other, training up their children, none of this can be done in our own strength. It can only take place in His. Moment by moment infusions of His grace are essential. This comes only by connection to Him, and it is we, not Him, who make the connection so fragile. It only comes by our abiding in Him. We easily get our eyes off of Him and unto that which is around us, and worse, upon ourselves. When that happens, our lives and hearts are anything but radiant. We cease to abide. We loose the connection, and we begin to wither.
I heard it said that the one who walks in front, walks one step closer to death. To be called to be a spiritual leader puts us a step closer to destruction than everyone else. This begins with our role in the family, and carries into our role in His Church. This is no more telling than in the Kingdom ministry He calls us to. Pastors, teachers, missionaries, and evangelists, all are charged by Him with the care of the souls of His people. This care has eternal consequences. To undertake it in our own strength is spiritual suicide....for both us and them. Yet too often we do just that. We may start the race well, our connection with Him intact, but along the way, we start looking at our feet, the road, and the things along the way. We stop looking to Him. We lose our radiance, our joy, our strength and our zeal. We may keep running, but it's in a direction that leads nowhere. We're on a spiritual treadmill. And everyone suffers, including Him, who grieves the loss of His lifeline with us, and the rich fellowship it brought.
So that brings us to Tiegreen's question; when people look at us, do they see a God-sufficiency, or a self-sufficiency? Do we show forth His radiance, or the dull grey of weariness? Are you being burned up and out instead of being filled up and poured out? Are you running on empty or walking in His fullness? It will show in all of us. What shows in you? Come.....abide....be radiant.