From “The Well,” by Casting Crowns”
“I have what you need,
But you keep on searchin,
I’ve done all the work,
But you keep on workin,
When you’re runnin on empty,
And you can’t find the remedy,
Just come to the well.”
Oh, man. I’ve been THERE before!
Looking back I was “runnin’ on empty” almost all the time. I remember in college when I was working and working and working and working, and getting more tired and more tired and more tired. I had been taught “I can” and I very nearly “I canned” myself into the ground.
One semester, I was taking 17 hours of class and working another 5-10 a week at the University Daily. At the beginning of that semester I had every story in the whole paper, save for the sports stories at the back. The editor had told us we needed 3-5 stories each in the system at all times, and I took her at her word. What I didn’t know was that no one else did. So my stories were constantly used as filler to fill the inches not filled by others.
Now, maybe that sounds like a good deal to you, but here’s what it meant for me… they constantly used up my 5 stories so I would come back and be back at ground zero for stories in the system.
The pay for working there was a flat rate (think salary, the same whether you do 2 hours of work or 10–most did 2, I did 10). I was scheduling interviews around classes, running across campus trying to not be late for anything, knocking myself out to get a 4.0, and feeling like a miserable failure at everything.
Added to this, the day before classes started that semester, I had a really bad wreck that sent my car to the body shop for extensive repair–and gave me the worst headache of my life that never really went away. But I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t let anyone down. I couldn’t rest.
Then, in March things started unraveling. I was holding my sanity in a grip with both hands, trying not to completely lose it. One day I picked up the UD to find that they had used my story as half of the story at the top page of the paper… with someone else’s byline! No mention at all that I had written half of it.
I was livid! When I asked, they said they didn’t have space to include my name.
Then someone complained about one of my stories. As a reporter, you get people like that (as an author you do too). I don’t know what it is about putting words on a piece of paper that some people take as license to rip the writer to shreds, but some do, and they are very good at it.
Well, I got hauled into the lead editor’s office and told I needed to do a better job. Like a dummy, I apologized and told them it wouldn’t happen again.
Shortly thereafter, there was a “big story.” It’s funny now how important those stories seemed back then and how I’m probably the only one who even remembers them now. But it was the Graduate school election of officers, and there was this big run-off between two bitter opponents. As it happened, the night of the election I had class until after 10 p.m. So after class, I went (as I had told them I would) to the Graduate office only to find it locked.
Now this was long before cell phones, and because class had started before you could take your car on campus, I was on foot. I went across campus to another building, thinking there might be someone there. There wasn’t.
With no other option, I went back to the UD (it was now nearly 11 p.m.). I’d started class that morning at 8 and I had another class the next morning at 8. When I got to the UD, the editor was about to come unglued! Where was I? Why didn’t I have the story in the system?! They were holding the whole paper up for ME! And I had no story.
Big, deep breath. With 10 inches of copy space to fill right across the top, I got to work writing a story that basically said, “They decided to postpone the election until tomorrow.” (I don’t remember how I finally found this out, but I do remember that’s what had happened.) I got my story in and headed back (on foot) across campus to the dorms.
I was so done. I was tired. I was frustrated. I was hungry… and when I got back to the dorm, my roommate was furious with me and yelled for several minutes about WHY hadn’t I called them to tell them where I was, and it’s DANGEROUS to be out there walking alone, and…
My question is, are YOU running on empty? Are you working and working even though Jesus already did all that’s necessary? Are you looking for a remedy of being burned out, tired, “done”?
If so, then I invite you, as does Casting Crowns, to visit the place I wish I had known about all those years ago. The Well is where God is. You don’t have to please an editor or the readers, you don’t have to knock yourself out to make the world happy. (The world will NEVER be happy anyway, so give THAT illusion up!)
God is what you need. God is ALL you need.
Once you get that, you will be able to do what I should have done… leave it all behind and stop trying to fill the void with the world’s answers. It’s time. It really is.