I was not sure what was happening. I had gone outside for my normal run but only got to the end of my block before my legs stopped. Unable to motivate my body to do any more. I sheepishly returned home, drank some water, and laid down.
Turning to 1 Kings 19 in my Bible, verses 4-8 jumped off the page. While I had not had a showdown on the top of Mount Carmel, I had just given a church presentation – a culmination of months of concentrated prayer and preparation.
Elijah, after an intense time of ministry was worn out, to the point of death. God gave him rest and sent an angel to provide food and drink. Twice! Without anyone shaming him, his physical needs were taken care of. He then embarked upon a journey to meet with the Lord.
I was not simply sleepy, but weary to the depth of my bones. I felt raw, vulnerable, and battered. I was familiar with this level of weariness from times on the field and knew it could swallow me if I didn’t get help. It was burnout. I did not need to try harder. I needed to rest, take care of my body, and meet with the Lord.
Jesus’ words met me in that season, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) The gift I was being offered was an invitation of rest, restoration, and intimacy without shame.
While we need to be faithful to carry out what the Lord has called us to, we too frequently elevate the task of serving above the invitation to connect with the Master. We bind ourselves to checklists and strategies to keep everything running smoothly. We believe the lie that the salvation of our cities rests on our shoulders and our ability to produce and perform.
The recipe for burnout is toiling outside of connectedness. The false solutions to burnout are also toiling outside of connectedness. If you are in burnout or are noticing the red flags of burnout, this is not something to fix all by yourself with a list of rules and strategies, but with the presence of God alongside the people of God.
What have you done when you have experienced bone-deep soul fatigue?