Thursday, January 17, 2008

Drained Out

Last Saturday's embarrassing failure with the Fate Fire Department's physical agility test was also very instructive. I try to learn from such significant events and this one was no exception. After all the drama was over and I was up, walking around, drinking Gatorade and appearing much more functional, I learned a new term. According to those at the time who can recognize the symptoms, I has apparently become slightly "hypovolemic." This has to do with the "volume" of oxygen being taking to all parts of the body by the blood supply. I needed to rest, suck some oxygen and drink some Gatorade in order to quickly replenish what my body was frantically pulling from my blood supply. In other words, I was drained out - dangerously so.

"Hypovolemia" is a new term I learned as a result of that episode. It got me thinking not only about ways to avoid such a condition in the future, but also other applications for this new insight about the body. For example, can a "body" of believers in Jesus Christ become hypovolemic? Can a believer become spiritual hypovolemic if they have burned more energy than has be replenished? Can a church exert energy in a way that exceeds its ability to take in nourishment? Can a church become "drained out"?

How does this coincide with the exhortation in Ephesians 5:18 to "be filled with the Spirit"? Can spiritual hypovolemia result from straining to be like Christ in a way that the life of Christ has not already empowered one to perform? Can a church body do more than it's supposed to do proportional to how nourished it is and what shape it is in, and thus suffer hypovolemic shock? What would be the symptoms of a church body suffering from spiritual "hypovolemic" shock (analogous to physical symptoms such as when the patient feels dizzy, faint, nauseated, or very thirsty).

I have been very, very proud of my church for the manner in which it has embraced change and the challenge to engage the community to which we have been called - Rockwall County, TX. However, in some areas we shows signs of being slightly "hypovolemic" in terms of spiritual well being. It is true that we, as a body, are to strive to be in better shape and should seek spiritual nourishment that replenishes what is burned. On the other hand, it is a duty of pastors to examine the health of the body and determine if "over-exertion" has occurred. This is difficult to imagine that I, who so often champions intensive training, would propose any rest at this stage of the game. Nevertheless, it is no different than what I have always said to students in kung fu, "pay attention to your body. If the body breaks down because of over-exertion, then training cannot continue." Likewise, if the church body breaks down because of over-exertion, where will the service be? And who will be left to worship the risen Lord? If the arms are two tired to be raised, how with hands be lifted in praise?

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