Anti-Burnout Medicine for the Heart
Keys to staying passionate and preventing burnout.
We’ve all been there: the fantastic conference, the jaw-dropping worship session, that moment of instant and divine revelation, that overwhelming encounter with His presence; we’ve all had those mountaintop experiences. For me it was a year at the School of Ministry in Toronto; I had the most incredible year of testimony after testimony, breakthrough after breakthrough, and encounter after encounter. But after what I can easily say was the best season of my life to date, I had to leave. I returned to the UK and a few months later began a 6 year long medical degree at a university in Wales.
I’m now at the end of my second year, and my journey since leaving Canada 2 years ago has been one of great ups and downs, revolving largely around 3 questions. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a university student or not, these questions are fundamental for everyone who is living a life with Jesus:
- How do I remain on fire for God?
- How do I continually walk in the fullness of the love that I have experienced?
- What can I do to prevent myself burning out?
When I use the phrase “mountaintop”, I am of course alluding to several instances in which God and man convene on a geographical mountaintop throughout the Bible. The most notable example is Jesus, who goes up a mountain with the disciples to pray in Luke 9, but perhaps even more infamous are Moses’ encounters with the Lord in the Old Testament. These days people often use the term “mountaintop” to refer to the experience of transformation that we have when we meet with the presence of God like Jesus did in Luke 9. This is the place where God reveals Himself in a wonderful and powerful way that totally transforms us.
God has revealed these keys to me with past, present and future aspects, on how to use those times of transformation to establish and maintain a heart of passionate love and inner revival:
Key One: Remember what He has done
Looking back over my spiritual journey has been a fundamental learning process for me. Every time I reflect on where the Lord has taken me, I see footprints of His favor and fingerprints of his faithfulness scattered everywhere. In those seasons where it seems like you’re just going through the motions of life, simply taking a glance over your shoulder reminds you that God has always been with you.
When Moses ascended Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) the first thing that God asked him to do was to remember the way He had been faithful in freeing the Israelites from captivity in Egypt. Remembering how God has been with us and engaging in thankfulness is life-changing: it establishes our hearts with an “anti-burnout” foundation because we’re constantly encouraging our own spirits with testimony about what the Lord has done!
Key Two: Meet with His presence, cultivate His Kingdom
In Exodus 33 Moses says (in my opinion) one of the most amazing things in the entire Bible. He essentially tells God that if He doesn’t go with them [the Israelites], there’s no point them going anywhere! In response, God does two wonderful things. Firstly, He tells Moses, “Yes, I will go with you.” Secondly, as if backing up His words, He allows Moses to glimpse the fullness of His glory.
“He backs up His promises with awesome encounters.”
The mountaintop is our opportunity to meet with that incredible presence of God. It’s not just empty words - He backs up His promises with awesome encounters. The important thing to glean from this passage is that the Lord doesn’t just promise His presence on the mountaintop, but also through the entirety of the seasons following it.
Since I began medical school, I’ve been trying to get my heart to understand this simple truth: that the God of those mountaintop moments is with me in my daily life just as powerfully as He was in those life-transforming moments. Once we grasp this truth, it’s a game-changer.
Encountering God’s presence is what allows you to move forward in passionate pursuit of Him. Make time to meet with His presence whenever you can. I tried for ages to fit the mould of getting up in the morning and having “God time” – but try as I might, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get up more than 10 minutes before I need to be ready! I found a way that worked for me and it’s much more enjoyable.
Being in a community of people who can encourage and support you is important. Sharing testimonies, being accountable and surrounded by truth and affirmation are fundamental components of remaining on fire for Jesus through difficult times. Get plugged into a community, or create a community that will allow you to grow and be involved in others’ journey through imparting what the Lord has taught you.
Key Three: Be filled with vision for the future.
After Moses had amazing encounters with God on the mountaintops, he had to return to the tiresome Israelites and lead them through a long, monotonous season. How often have I felt like that’s the story of my life? After incredible mountaintop experiences like I had at the School of Ministry, coming “back down to earth” and trudging through the desert seemed like a pretty bad deal. But Moses’ secret was not to focus on the endless desert and quarrelsome people around him, but instead to remind himself of the vision God had planted within him.
Moses climbed Mount Nebo and God gave him a glimpse of the glorious Promised Land that lay ahead (Deuteronomy 34). For me, this has been the most important key: glimpsing the bigger picture. Walking through the desert after you’ve been transformed by an encounter on the mountaintop is really hard, but everything changes when you catch sight of the glory that lies ahead.
The entire first year of my degree I struggled with not wanting to be at medical school; I was discouraged by the mundane nature of day-to-day life, but there were always breakthrough moments where God gave me a taste of what was to come. He gives us hope for the future which inspires us to live out the fullness of this season and discover its glorious treasures!
“After practising these keys, I’ve seen God do amazing things.”
Have you been in a challenging season for a long time? Has burn-out and the monotony of every day made the last mountaintop experience a distant memory? I’m not saying these keys are the answer, I’m saying there is hope. God’s proven to me that it’s possible to stay passionate.
When I came to university, the six years ahead looked bleak and hopeless. I dared not believe that I could maintain my passionate love for Jesus that long; surely my passion would just slowly evaporate? However, after practising these keys, I’ve seen God do amazing things. He’s changed lives, healed sick people, provided finances miraculously, opened impossible doors and met me time after time. I’m constantly astounded by His faithfulness as I discover the reality of His intimate and powerful presence, and try to look towards the glory He has promised me.
No matter where you are, God wants you to be in perpetual inner revival because He is a God of abounding hope and relentless love, who longs to fuel the fire of passion in you heart. What will these keys unlock for you?