I am getting too old for these all nighters. Working through Sunday night and not finishing until late Monday on that rush index has taken its toll, but the worst part was not the following day, in this case Tuesday, but instead the second day, today. I am still tired, even though I got plenty of sleep both Monday night and last night. However, the real problem is not being tired, per se, but that I feel washed out and mentally fatigued.
There are many things that become more difficult as you get older. For me the biggest problem has been that I am not able to just go the way I used to. I have grown up being able to meet almost any demand I placed on myself, no matter how severe or impractical. No longer. I need more rest than I used to and the recovery time afterwards is much longer when I do press the limits. It is not only athletes that hit the performance wall, even people who do intellectual things, like writing, see their abilities to produce become less vigorous as they get older. It doesn’t mean you can’t still do great work, it just means that you have to face realistic limitations, where before you felt like you could ignore them.
There is an interesting side effect to all of this, and that is that my dependance on Jesus as the one who sustains me has increased as my ability to perform up to past expectations has decreased. It seems that as time passes I gain additional insights into Paul’s thoughts in Philippians 4:11-13.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
I will admit, I have yet to get a firm handle on the “content” part. And, while it is true that Paul doesn’t say “well rested or tired”, I think the “I can do everything” statement is the generalizing theme that covers all the open bases.
With Adam’s sin came death. When you think about it, God was actually gracious in making our demise a gradual thing, a slow, but steadily diminishing of our resources. It gives us time to come to terms with our dependence on something outside of ourselves. When we are strong and vigorous, our temptation is to depend on ourselves. However, when we begin to lose that edge, God, whom we may have kept at a “proper” distance, suddenly is the one we need to depend on in so many ways. I remember Curt Shilling talking after his pivital game against the Yankees in this year’s American League playoffs. He talked about how he had become a Christian seven years ago and that it was his dependence on God that had gotten him through that difficult experience. He said that in his outing against Oakland he had gotten caught up in all the hoopla and thought he could do it himself and he got knocked out of the game. In New York he gave up trying to do it all by himself and leaned on the everlasting arms (that is not a quote but my image of what he said).
I understand Curt and this last indexing marathon made me come face to face with the same issues. Thank God that he gives us the time, along with the diminishing abilities that age causes, to allow us to understand our inherent need of his sustaining grace. Paul understood it. Curt understands it. I am beginning to understand it.