When I was in college, there was a dining hall next to my dormitory that was buffet style (i.e., all you can eat). I remember going there every night of freshman year with the same group of friends. One of our favorite nights was chicken tenders night. How can you resist? Unlimited piles and piles of fresh chicken tenders. It was the first time I was introduced to the amazing concoction of ranch dressing and Tobasco sauce. To this day, whenever I have chicken tenders, I must have ranch and Tobasco handy. You could say it’s one of my weaknesses.
After one of these nights, one of my friends, a petite little Asian girl, rubs her belly and says, “Baby’s full.” I reeled. I knew she had a steady boyfriend, but I did not know she was pregnant. She laughed and assured me that it was just her way of saying she had eaten way too much.
You know what? Today, “baby” was full for me.
A “full” day
My day started off at 7:30 am. My day ended at 7:30 pm. Yeah. It was a 12-hour day. The funny thing is . . . rather than feeling exhaustion, I felt energized. I ended my day wanting to do a hundred more things.
What can make a person feel more energized doing something for twelve hours as opposed to feeling drained after four hours of doing something else? I think it’s simple. Nothing revolutionary. We get energy from doing what we love. Right? Or, is it more than that?
I love to do so many things, but do all of these things give me energy? Those of you that know me know that I love to eat. I don’t always get energy from eating. Rather, I get food coma. I love playing video games. I don’t always get energy from playing video games. Rather, it sometimes makes me dizzy. I love taking naps. I don’t always get energy taking naps. Sometimes, if I wake up from a nap too early or too late I feel dizzy or groggy. Power-napping is a science.
What made Jesus full?
You know what? The Bible doesn’t really talk about what Jesus did for fun. In spite of the fact that He went to dinners and banquets, it never really talks about what He liked to eat or drink (or whether He drank that wine He made out of water). So, His statement in John 4:34 makes for a very funny statement. I call it a “what the . . .?” moment.
To give a little context, Jesus had been waiting for His disciples while they went to get some food. When they had returned, concerned that He might be hungry, they urged their Teacher to eat. His response, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”
In the past, I read this as (my paraphrase), “Guys, I’m good, because I did what my Father asked me to do today.” Recently, though, the words of Jesus here came to have a deeper meaning for me.
People ask me all the time how I get it all done. How do I work a full-time day job, serve in the church part-time, and also fulfill my duties as a husband and father? How do I also have time to do all the other things that I do? My answer would be: I find fulfillment in many of the things I do. Most of the things I do by choice, but there are ways to find fulfillment even in the things that I am forced to do.
I think what makes a day like today so energizing for me is that more than anything—more than doing what I love—I am doing what God wants me to do. At Saddleback Church, we describe it as doing what we are “shaped” to do.
I am not going to lie to you and say that everything I do brings me energy. Not everything does. There are some things I really don’t like doing. I do them because I have to, but I get no joy out of doing them.
This is not to say that I should not do these things. This is also not to say that these are not things God wants me to do. I believe these things are the things that God uses to grow us. If all of life was only doing the things we liked, we would never grow.
Let me wrap up here. For Jesus, doing the will of the Father was fuel. When I approach life with this mindset, I am enabled and empowered to do all (or at least many) of the things that God asks of me and then some. It is our task in life to get past what the world demands of us and get to what God wants for us.
Many wonder why they feel they have not accomplished anything in life. Many wonder why they are so tired and burned out. I would say that people feel this way because they are running the rat race and doing what they think they must do to succeed in life. They let people and things outside of themselves dictate what is required for success. Success is so subjective, though. What brings success in one decade often only brings mediocrity in the next.
The irony is, though it is hard to say God audibly speaks to any of us and gives us clear direction for our lives, if we allow, as Proverbs 3 says, He will make our path straight. All we have to do is trust in Him. How do we get to a place of trust? You get to a place of trust with someone by getting to know them. How do you get to know God? Read what He has already said (in the Bible). Have conversations throughout the day with Him (through prayer). As you deepen your relationship with Him, it becomes clearer what He wants for you.
I’ll close with this quote from Eric Liddell, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.” When you do what God made you to do, it brings you joy. What’s better? It brings Him joy.
That’s it. That’s all I wanted to say about that. You do not have to read any further.
[Image source: https://biblia.com/bible/esv/John%204.34]
Below, I list all the things I did today so you get a sense of what brings me joy.
7:30 am – Wake up
8:00 am – Stop by Panera Bread to pick up some goodies for my childrens ministry leaders
8:30 am – Arrive at Portola High School to begin the laborious process of moving stuff from a trailer and setting it up in the classrooms for childrens ministry
9:30 am – Huddle with the teams and discuss a few items for the day
9:50 am – Meet some new people
10:00 am – Join in worship with people I consider family
11:30 am – Meet some more new people
11:45 am – Tear down and pack up the childrens ministry
12:30 pm – Head over to the other church building and greet people as I walk from one side of the building to the other (as an extrovert this brings me a ton of energy)
1:00 pm – Have lunch with a family of five girls (being around big families brings me a ton of energy
3:00 pm – Provide training to a mid-week childrens ministry volunteer
4:00 pm – Do some administrative work on my computer (this drains me a little)
5:00 pm – Leave church with a big smile on my face and the feeling that I can conquer the world
6:30 pm – Head out to Trader Joe’s and Ralph’s to pick up some care package items for a girl in our church that broke her arm this past week
7:00 pm – Drop by the girl’s house and pray for her
7:30 pm – Get ready for dinner