I once read a sign in a medical office that said, “If you ignore your health long enough it will leave you.” It’s unfortunate that I did not see this sign when I was in my thirties because it could have brought a much-needed reality to the truth that I was running on empty and heading for burnout. The expression, ‘hindsight is twenty twenty’ cannot be fully understood or appreciated until you are on the other side of trouble.
In John 10:10, Jesus, our good Shepherd, is expressing His desire for our life which is abundance (an extremely plentiful or over sufficient quantity or supply), while simultaneously warning us to watch out for the thief (Satan) whose desire for us is a life of lack, poverty, and scarcity. The word ‘thief’ in the original Greek is ‘kleptes which means a thief who steals by stealth (in secret) rather than in the open.
For years I ignored the signs and symptoms of burnout, choosing to live my life my way, pushing past pain and exhaustion until I crashed and could push myself no more. I became subject to the consequences of my ungodly lifestyle whether I wanted it or not, and by the time I woke up and took notice it was too late. The damage had been done.
Why would someone drive themself this way? I asked myself that question many times, but it wasn’t until I asked the Lord that question that things began to turn around. The breakthrough in the restoration of my health began as I came honestly before the Lord confessing pride, stubbornness, and driveness and asking for His forgiveness and mercy.
In His goodness He began to show me the deep roots that were producing bad fruit (behaviour) in my life. God answered my ‘why’ question by showing me areas of my life where the thief had been busy stealing long before the burnout happened.
Praise the Lord for Jesus’ finished work on the cross that we can apply to every area of our lives through confession (agreement with God’s ways) and repentance (turning away from sin by a complete change of mind). This is the gate that Jesus taught about in John 10. It is through Him that we can approach God asking for mercy, despite our and other’s reckless ways. Jesus came to earth to destroy the destroyer and take back what has been stolen in secret.
Today, at the age of sixty-two, I value the good health that I have like never before. This is an ongoing process of restoration, but like any renovation it takes time, patience, and the right kind of determination to see it through to the end. ‘I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 1:6).
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