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Lately it seems that everyone around me (self included) is on edge. Many of us seem to be struggling, our momentum seems to be slowing down, and our passion seems to be slipping through our finger tips. Sometimes life just seems to get the better of us and it is perfectly natural to be both trying and tired at the same time.
I recently celebrated my 39th birthday and while I am grateful for the opportunity to gain more wisdom that comes with growing older, there is a part of me that is memorializing the former more faith-filled me. The me that was younger and far less experienced but drastically more energetic. I miss the me that was far more ignorant but much more instinctive. In my growing older I have grown more objective, more credible, and more educated but in many ways I have regretfully lost my edge.
What happened to the kid who moved from Texas to GA with nothing but $20 dollars, a Discover Card, and a dream? What happened to the guy whose ignorance worked in his favor because he was too young and inexperienced to realize why he shouldn’t be able to accomplish everything he set out to do. What happened to the young passionate pastor who had no building, no bodies, and no budget and only a belief in the beauty of faith, love, and hope? Honestly speaking, the me from two decades ago would kick my butt and tell me that I have gotten way too soft.
While I’m confessing my own internal struggles, I am willing to go out on a limb and assume that I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way. Whether you feel you’ve lost your mental, emotional, or spiritual edge, I think it’s safe to say that we all hit a life slump every now and then.
That’s why it’s so important to learn how and when we lost “it.” Your passion, your purpose, your drive, your motivation, your edge. Whatever you call it, you need to know when, why, and how you lost it and how to get it back as soon as possible and I think I have found a few answers in the following story.
“One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small. Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there are plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet.” “All right,” he told them, “go ahead.” “Please come with us,” someone suggested. “I will,” he said. So he went with them. When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees. But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!” he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!” “Where did it fall?” the man of God asked. When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then the ax head floated to the surface. “Grab it,” Elisha said. And the man reached out and grabbed it.” (2 Kings 6:1-7 NLT)
- Feelings of inadequacy may actually be instinct.
The group of prophets came to Elisha because the space that they were meeting in was too small. Often times when things become to small for us we begin by feeling inadequate. I mean who doesn’t feel inadequate when they start to sense that they no longer fit in? Honestly most of us believe there is something wrong with us because we don’t fit the mold, or we don’t fit the mainstream. As someone who felt this way for years because of undiagnosed autism, I have an intimate relationship with feelings of inadequacy.
Sometimes people will make you feel small, when in reality what you’re feeling may be that you have outgrown your current surrounding and your current circle.
In essence, your feelings of inadequacy may be an internal instinct that it is time to move on to something or somewhere that is bigger and better. After all, what if where you are now is too small for you to succeed?
- The blessing of growth is always accompanied by the burden of building
We all want to grow. I often remind my congregation that I assume that they attend church weekly because they intend to grow. I mean no one I know rolls out of bed on a Sunday morning, the day most people have off of work, in order to get dressed and go to church in hopes of it making their life worse. Whether growth for you is personal, spiritual, emotional, or financial one thing is almost always true. If you want to grow you have to grind. The prophets in this story knew that they had outgrown their current situation, but they also knew that growth meant that they had to build something bigger. That brings me to the most common reason we lose our edge (passion). Building a better life is hard work. In the 1700’s the common idiom “busy like a beaver” become popular as a way of summarizing the level of activity that a person engages is that keeps the extremely busy. Until recently I’ve never thought of it, but beavers are literally busy animals because they understand the building a new place to live is hard work. Most people understand that beavers build dams. What I never knew was why the built dams. When a beaver develops the instinct that they need to build a new (and sometimes bigger) home, they first build a dam to keep the river from washing away the home that they intend to build. They are busy because they are not only building a dream, they build something to protect the dream. Many of us fail to realize that we are often feel exhausted because we are working twice as hard was we realized. Not only do we have to build something bigger and better when we realize our life is too small, we also have to build a dam to keep our destiny from being washed away. So we get tired.
- Building is hard on you hands, head, and heart
If you have ever swung an ax for an extended period of time then you realize that it can make you tired. Actually exhausted is a more accurate description. Usually the first thing that starts showing signs of fatigue is your hands. They begin to sweat and subsequently your grip begins to weaken. Then come the cramps and in some cases even calluses. In most cases you keep swinging because although your hands hurt, you head and you heart are still in it. The problem with passion is that it often has very little to do with your hands. Talent and work ethic are great, but passion is what springs from having your mind-set on a mission. It is when your head is no longer in it and your heart becomes to weary that you lose your edge.
- Getting your edge back
On of the most promising principles found in this story is the potential of once again finding your edge. This unnamed worker asks for help in getting his ax head back. While the story doesn’t explicitly say why, we do know that he is concerned that his edge was borrowed which means that I believe that he was even more concerned about what he was building. In other words we was fully invested and interested in seeing the work completed, so he asked for help. Getting your edge back often means having the humility to admit that you lost it and that you desperately need it back. So let me ask you, who can you go to for help when you need it most. Who is praying with you and for you? Who can help you reignite your passion? We all need an Elisha as much as we need our edge. We need an Elisha because he walked his colleague through a simple process that led to the restoration of his edge. I like to call it the “last place principle.” Elisha asked his friend “Where did it fall?” Good friends and accountability partners can help you regain your passion by helping you retrace your steps. When was the last time you felt motivated and passionate about what God inspired you to build? Where were you standing when you stopped swinging you ax? Once they located the spot where he lost it, Elisha threw a stick into the water and miraculously the ax head floated to the surface. The Jordan River was extremely deep and rapid. There was literally a one in a million chance of the stick even getting close to the sunken ax head. So maybe the point is that the stick was just God’s way of showing that regaining the edge would take a miracle. When I read the story the immediate image that came to mind was of the busy beaver throwing sticks into the river in order to protect his home from being washed away. Maybe the miracle God’s ability to use the people in our lives to help us protect our passion, drive, motivation, and hope from being completely washed away when we get tired of working so hard to build something better. Having a trusted friend to help point you in the right direction is critical to regaining your edge because as we can see from this story if you can point it out, God can pull it out but as Elisha told the young prophet “You have to pick it up.”
You may have lost your edge but you are still on the edge of something great. Pray to get your edge back. Pick it up. Keep swinging. Keep building something bigger.
Pastor L #autismpastor
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