It was a blazing hot 100-degree day in the Utah desert. On day two of the 28-day race, Dave Buschow’s body and mind were already pushed to the edge of his limits. After nearly ten hours of running on the “wilderness-survival adventure” without a drink, David was in bad shape and experiencing hallucinations. The twenty-nine-year-old former Air Force airman mistook a tree for a person and said, “There she is.” Yet no one, not the eleven other hikers, nor the guides leading the group, noticed the pale-faced young man’s struggle. He continued to run despite a desperate need for water. The guides carried water but did not offer it to David, nor did he ask for it. David collapsed to the ground, face down in the dirt, dead of thirst. He was less than 100 yards from the goal, a cave with a pool of water. David refused to ask for water and did to stop to rest. This decision cost him his life and brought his family and friends deep grief.
It was a needless and preventable tragedy.
Just as our body thirsts for liquids throughout the day, we all need a regular rhythm of rest.
Yet, as leaders, many of us struggle to create rhythms of rest. We tend to push our limits and fail to ask for help, especially when we’re charging toward a big goal, a new program, or a challenging season. Too many people pull at us for direction, guidance, encouragement, and support. It happens when we do not rest. It doesn’t matter how experienced we are, how large our capacity for stress, or how effectively we manage time, tasks, and people. We all have a limit that, once reached, welcomes tragedy for us and those we lead.
Every leader faces weariness at times, whether we admit it or not. King David models for us the way to renewal. King David suffered difficult leadership moments. His enemies forced him to run for his life and hide in a harsh desert. He knew how to survive in the desert physically, but he wanted more. He wanted to thrive emotionally and spiritually, always. He did not desire a life without God.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.
My lips will glorify you
because your faithful love is better than life.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
at your name, I will lift up my hands.
You satisfy me as with rich food;
my mouth will praise you with joyful lips.
David recalls three essential truths from a desperate heart in a moment of isolation and exhaustion. God is always present. God’s love is unfailing. God provides abundantly. In prayer, David intentionally shifts his focus from an earthly perspective to a vision of the throne of God. We can, too (see Colossians 3:1-3). David’s God, whom we worship, is the great King who promises to dwell among his people and give us rest by the power of the Holy Spirit. David also remembers the love of God. The most significant kind of love. Through thick and thin, God’s love is bound by a willing, stick-to-itiveness commitment. For David and for us, God’s love is better than life! The work can wait. David is fully expectant that God will provide abundantly for his needs. He expresses the bounty of deliverance in the metaphor of a banquet. He speaks about “rich food” or the fat, representing that which truly fulfills. Renewed by the truth, restored by the Lord, David has reason to praise.
As leaders, we must have the same posture as David, especially when we’re tempted not to rest. When we push to our extreme limits incorrectly thinking that is best for us and others, we do irreparable damage to ourselves, our people, and our ministry. The cost of not resting is a needless and preventable tragedy. Remember, our efforts are on to the Lord, the very one who rests (Genesis 2:3) and does not want us to collapse.
When we feel the exhaustion from leadership, we can count on God to renew us.
We can rest in Him. Everything else can wait. Say this with me, “I can rest in the Lord. I will be fully satisfied as with the riches of foods, the very best. Then I can go back to work.”
You and I need rest. We need to stop and refuel. Regularly.
What if you made resting a priority? Where do you find rest? List the benefits you and others experience when you operate out of rest and fullness? What could be the consequences to you and others if you do not create a healthy rhythm of rest?
Ines Franklin has been a Teaching Pastor at Mariners since 2012 and has authored numerous devotionals for the church. Having earned a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, she serves on several non-profit boards and is the founder of an online Christian discipleship ministry (www.trochia.org) through which she shares her teaching and encouraging messages to a worldwide audience. Ines was born and raised in Puerto Rico, number six of seven children raised by a single mother living in poverty. She and her husband Jim live in Irvine, CA, and have a blended family of five married children and nine grandchildren.