It's a profound image of life in a grueling, fast-paced world, the drained battery. Since 68% of American adults own smart phones and another 45% use a tablet every day (from Pew Research data from 2015. You can view it at www.pewinternet.org), it is a picture with which we are intimately familiar. Even more pertinent is the back-story, the picture behind the scenes. The iconic battery drives the machinery of the digital schemata that moves so much of life. When the battery is drained the potential of that world wide web is minimized. It must be re-charged, re-invigorated, filled once again with the power to super-charge high-speed data, produce vivid screens, and endure hours of run-time. Right now it's the biggest complaint users bring to the IT geniuses that dream and create these devices: when will they produce batteries that can stay active through an entire day of pounding?
That picture seems to be an IM from God, at least for me. Whenever I see the drained battery I am running on empty somewhat myself. By the time that battery shows red the normal day is usually advanced and my own energies are somewhat drained. The instant message is that it's perhaps time to step away from the achiever strength that drives me even in retirement. The battery with little charge is a reminder that at my age power storage capabilities are somewhat drained and need to be replenished. And, that's more than a geezer trait these days. At every age there's the danger of being drained, of running on empty, what the builder generation called burning the candle at both ends.
It's true, supplying fuel for life is a twenty-first century industry giant. Economists estimate that global sports nutrition, energy drinks and supplements, vitamins, and caffeine enhancements are a nearly $40 billion annual market. If these enhancements are fueling couch potatoes (an old term) to hit the gym or jogging paths, as intended, they may actually be an asset to an out of shape culture. But, studies indicate they are swallowed and guzzled as sources of the stuff to make it through the day. The other day at a convenience store I noted that half the people in the check-out line were purchasing lottery tickets while the other half were holding energy drinks, jolts of caffeine or sugar to ignite the inner fires for the remaining hours of the day.
Jesus modeled finishing and the discipline to insure the personal strength to do so. On one occasion he noted the weariness of his followers and spoke to them about it---
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a
while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
Mark 6:31, ESV
What is more, the Gospels are annotated in several references with his own need for rest and personal preparation, recovery of strength.
Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.
Mark 4:38, ESV
So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well.
John 4:6, ESV
At a deeper level Scripture reminds us of the need for spiritual renewal. Paul wrote to the Ephesians and left us a monumental instruction about being filled with the Spirit.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the
Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing
and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for
everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to
one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:18-29, ESV
Our skilled textual analysts remind us that the present active of the words translated "be filled" depicts a repetitive action, something that we must experience often in our life journey. Yes, we are porous vessels. This filling should happen and happen and happen. Paul emphasized this idea of fullness when he wrote earlier---
To know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with
all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:19, ESV
What is more, this life we are called to lead is a life of power, and not the weakness depicted by a drained battery. It is a significant theme of Scripture---
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7, ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will
be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the
Acts 1:8, ESV
While we love to flourish the image of God working in frail, limited humans and therefore excuse our many shortages, there's the truth that God promises to fill us with the capacity to represent him in a demanding world. Try as we might we cannot side-step the biblical expectation that we operate with stuff from above, even us mere humans. Being drained is "the human element" on display. Being filled and prepared is about the new creation staying new, the promise of renewal, and the reality of God living vital and fresh in his people.
it's a drained battery. It means the source of power is shutting down. But, there is the re-charge. And, that battery reminds me that the re-charge is spiritual renewal for me.