Raw Nerve and Vitamin B

August 15, 2012

Some years ago–YEARS ago–there was a Christian recording artist named Terry something-or-other. He was pretty significant when I was in college, and for several years after that. When I interned in college ministry at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, TX, we had him come and do a concert one weekend.

I recall heading out after the concert with our ministry team to take him to dinner, I think we went to this great place called Frank Tolbert’s Chili Parlor (pretty embarassing that I can recall the name of the restaurant, but can’t recall this guy’s last name), and as we were sitting around waiting for, then enjoying dinner, Terry told us about a song that he had written that was about the kind of thing we were doing that very moment. The chorus, imprinted in my mind, ran this way:

“Fried food and fellowship are murdering me

My dinner’s at midnight, my bedtime’s at three

I’m living on raw nerve and vitamin B

Fried food and fellowship are murdering me.”


Terry explained that most every week, he was on the road somewhere, playing for some church or church group, which meant a nightime concert, for which he did not want to have a full stomach, thus he was eating after the show (midnight), getting to bed really late (three AM), and then waking up and getting moving the next day.

I understand. For reasons that I can’t explain today, I went out last Friday and rode 45 miles on my bike (that’s human powered, not a motorcycle), and then the next day humped a 25-pound pack around and up and over Blood Mountain (the highest spot on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia). And I wonder why I am still dragging, today, four days later.

I feel like I’m operating on raw nerve, and I did not take my multivitamin today, which means no Vitamin B. Lights out at 10:00 last night, the alarm went off at 4:30 this morning, private devotions and an hour bike ride later I was headed to the office, and tonight will be (another) late night, getting home maybe around 9:00, to greet the out-of-town guests who arrive today for two nights.

Somehow I doubt I’m the only one. Something tells me that there are a LOT of people out there burning the candle at both ends and in the middle. My attorney friends talk about the hours they put in, I’m married to a public elementary school teacher who regularly puts in 12 hour days, and I see the exhaustion in the faces of people as I talk with them, listen to them, or look out over a congregation on Sunday morning.  We are slap “wo’ out” as a family friend used to say.

And to lives like this, Jesus, the Son of God, Savior of sinners, Friend to all who will acknowledge Him, says “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” I recall a friend (who is also a Pastor) telling me about going to spend a few days at a Monastery to get some reading and thinking and praying done, and spending the first 36 hours doing nothing but sleeping. I think about that, I have stayed at that Monastery, and the beds are NOT comfortable. I think my friend was tired.

I once heard life referred to as the “three eights” you have. The first eight is the hours you spend working; the second is the eight hours you spend sleeping (yeah, I know, but let’s use it for the metaphor, OK?). The final eight is the set of hours you have available for what you choose to do with them. Admittedly, there are many days when you work more than eight and sleep less than eight. Bbut I find myself wondering what would happen if we really invested in that third eight, and spent it renewing our souls, resting (as well as exercising) our bodies, and went deep into the lives of people who really matter to us, rather than turn our minds off in front of the TV.

When you get right down to it, raw nerve and vitamin B is no way to fuel life. What we need–what you need–OK, what I need–is to slow down and listen to the Creator of all that exists. If God took a day off from creation, and rested (the word “sabbath” literally means “stop!”), maybe we would all do better with a little bit of rest.

In her book, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, Marva Dawn tells the story of a wagon train on its way from St. Louis to Oregon. The members of this wagon train were all devout-VERY devout-Christians, so the entire group observed the practice of stopping on the Sabbath. However, winter was rapidly approaching, and some among the group grew convinced that they would not reach their destination before the heavy snows. Thus, several members proposed that they cease their practice of stopping on the Sabbath, and drive onward seven days a week, to avoid those snows.

This proposal sent a shock wave through the entire group, and they argued so long and hard that it was finally decided that the group would break in two. Those who wanted to observe the Sabbath would make up one group, and those who wanted to travel seven days a week, the other. The proposal was accepted.

The two groups continued to travel together the next day, and for several days, until the Sabbath rolled around. On the Sabbath, one group continued, while the other group remained behind, and chose to rest.

Guess which group got to Oregon first.

That’s right, the group who kept the Sabbath.

Both the people and horses were so rested by their Sabbath observance, that they could travel at greater speeds and distances the other days of the week.[1]

Ditch the vitamins, and take a good dose of Jesus.

[1]Dawn, Marva. Keeping the Sabbath Wholly (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 65-66.


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