If I don't care about the outcome, I can do difficult tasks all day long without getting worn down by the work. One of the intricate tasks that I do well, for example, is talking about theology. So if I'm not invested in the person to whom I'm talking, I can discuss the intricacies of biblical inspiration or the vagaries of various views of the Trinity and, while I'm spouting orthodox Christian theology, it's just so many word games. It's like playing Scrabble. After a while the brain goes a little numb, but I can still play the game.
If I'm invested in the outcome -- if I'm talking with one of my daughters, for example, or a dear friend who's going through a crisis -- my emotions and my will come into play and the game takes a very serious twist. The answers matter. My heart is somehow on the chopping block and it's no longer a game.
Often enough when I get into situations that really matter, my heart gets beat up. This is not pleasant, but I'm starting to get used to it. One of the things I am learning little by little and bit by bit is that if you're not willing to get hurt, you shouldn't be playing. (The really good news here is that if you're playing a game Jesus wants you playing, he is the Healer and he can tend those wounds.)
Why am I thinking about this at the moment? Tonight I am wiped out. I've been pouring a lot of energy into three or four areas of life that Really Matter A Lot to me right now. One of these areas is the "Life Together Groups" that we're forming at Central during Lent. I am big-time invested in these groups -- not that I need to control the outcome, but I believe with all my heart that God has called me to drive the process of forming them. So I don't want to drop the ball. It matters.
The trick is, and I think you see this in the gospels, is to remember to take time away from it now and then. Jesus frequently reminded the disciples to "come away by yourselves to a lonely place for a while." My wife is very good at reminding me to set aside time to rest. Because the truth is, if you're in a game that matters, it's easy to burn yourself out.
So two questions:
1. Are you playing a game that matters to you, and to Jesus?
2. If so, are you taking time to rest, to breathe, to renew?