My life is full. Very full. This isn’t a bad thing – my life is full of the things I love. I am pastoring, speaking, writing, making podcasts, and doing life with my family. Sometimes this can be bad, though. My attention span isn’t infinite and my capacities are limited. My emotional and spiritual fuel tank can get low, and if I don’t pay attention, I can find myself unexpectedly driving on empty.
We all have moments like these where we realize we’re running a little empty. The concern with driving on empty is that temptation likes to hang out there. My tired moments of life must be tended to because without that personal attention and sensitivity, my guard is down and my chances of making a wrong turn are a little higher.
Let’s look at Jesus for a moment. Jesus was a man on a mission. Talk about a full life. The Gospels portray Him as walking, speaking, eating, rebuking, healing, raising the dead, and, at times, withdrawing. Yes, you heard me. Luke 5 tells us that Jesus would often withdraw by Himself to pray.
Think about it: this is a man full of power; an agent of forgiveness, able to heal any sickness, and right any wrong. And yet, Jesus would remove himself from the context of where His gift thrived, quieting the voices of the needy, in order to take time for Himself. Not only that, unapologetically so and in some of the most ‘inconvenient’ times.
Besides praying, we don’t exactly know what Jesus would do during these times. Personally, I’m glad we don’t know — we would most likely make it a to-do list to achieve godliness. But it’s not about what He did, but why He did it.
What does this have to do with sexuality? Well, Jesus was a man who experienced every form of temptation, but was still without sin. He gave us a model, an operating system to function in. There was something He did that allowed Him to push past any and all temptation. I believe an essential part of this was His ability to withdraw.
When we are constantly giving ourselves away and we stay in the context of our gifting, we can lose awareness of our inner world.
The rush of our call can drive us to do more for others and spend less time refueling.
Your gift or job can make you feel important and rightfully so, you’re doing great things! After all, the opportunities are from God. However, there’s a cliff here to avoid. You hit the cliff when you don’t see God calling you away. You find yourself in murky waters when the job defines you and the work dictates your identity.
When it comes to sexual temptation, I needn’t explain how exhaustion can affect our decision making. Any guy will tell you that they’re most tempted to watch pornography when they’re tired and disconnected from their real needs. It’s usually after they’ve exhausted themselves that the enemy tempts them. Exhaustion is the bad fruit of never leaving the crowd.
If we never withdraw from the crowd, we prepare ourselves for failure. We don’t get our energy from them – we get our energy from Him. It’s an important distinction. We have to defeat the lie telling us that if we stop, opportunities stop; that if we leave, the anointing goes with it. But if the savior of the world can put His calling on hold to follow what the Father was doing, we can find a way too.
Withdrawing is a reset, a refuel, and a solidifying our identity in God. If we remain in the crowds for the fame and notoriety, we trade the life God wants to give us in the withdrawing for the temporary pleasures of the people. We sacrifice our needs for the needs of everyone else, leaving us dried out like an old fish on a hot summer’s day, unable to help anyone.
The reality is this: we can only minister to people as much as we can withdraw from them. Unplugging and keeping track of our emotion and spiritual needs is the starting point – know your inner levels and withdraw when you’re feeling low. Or even before that. It never hurts to keep the tank full. I’m certain this was one of the reason’s why Jesus was a healthy man and leader, and I’m convinced that if we take the time to do this right, we’ll all look a little more like Him.