Karen and I have come to realize that our hearts have different needs. If we are going to minister well to our family, our community and our mission field for the marathon rather than a sprint, we need to take good care of ourselves as well. We try to become champions of each other’s “tanks,” keeping an eye on whether our spouse is getting the time they need alone, with God, with friends and doing specific things that bring us life (like art or woodworking as Karen is rediscovering for herself).
It’s amazing to see the difference in our attitudes when we’re filled up, but it’s also important to recognize that those tanks will not stay full. They need to be monitored and refilled, but there’s a deeper truth too. We cannot rely on having our tanks or our needs met as the basis for whether we’re doing well. God talks about not trusting in broken cisterns (or wells), but rather in the spring of living water that is a relationship with God (Jeremiah 2:13) and fellowship with the Holy Spirit in particular (John 7:37-39).
So, what is the answer? Do we take care of ourselves or rely on the Lord? In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” That’s not a mystical concept that we will be fulfilled even without the things we love. God LOVES to lavish us with gifts and opportunities, giving us back whatever we surrendered ten-fold!