The Land between Frenzy and Apathy

Don’t Live in the Red-Zone

Ecclesiastes 4:6 says, “Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.”

A rubber band was designed to be stretched. Yet every rubber band has a limit—a red-zone of danger and breakage. So long as you stretch a rubber band within its safe zone, you’re good. But cross into that red-zone, and breakage is close.

When rubber bands break they become unusable for their purpose and the snapback is painful.

You and I are like rubber bands. When we stretch ourselves thin, we enter a red-zone—we near a breaking point. The breakage causes damage. We hurt the testimony of Jesus, our marriages, our kids, and our churches. The red-zone is a bad place.

Everybody wants to “reach their potential”—but few realize this is code for “I want to be stretched to the red-zone.” The red-zone is deceptive because it feels productive and validating, but it’s also dangerous and disappointing. It’s unhealthy to live at the edge of sanity and exhaustion, and the impending train-wreck is devastating.

Others may be so insulated from the red-zone that they have retreated to a comfort-zone of apathy. In this zone, there are no risks, no stretching, and very little in the way of serving Jesus. This is like a rubber band sitting in a drawer dry-rotting. It won’t be broken, but it won’t be useful either.

The red-zone is not spiritual, it’s simply self-dependent and self-reliant. Apathy is not spiritual either. “Doing nothing” is simply disobedience.

God calls us to “do.” Work glorifies Him. Rest also glorifies Him. Working is obeying. Resting is trusting.

There is a land between frenzy and apathy. It’s a zone where stretching happens but not often into the red-zone. It’s a place where serving flows with energy and balance, where zeal doesn’t ignore finiteness. It’s a zone where exerting is balanced by restoring, a place where we love to labor with Jesus and also love to rest in Jesus.

Living in this healthy zone is a spiritual journey of discernment discovered by trial and error. In my twenty-fifth year of ministry, I still struggle to know the boundaries and respect the borders of my own limitations and the Lordship of Jesus. When I’m living under my own lordship, I err into the red-zone—pushing faster than He intends. Jesus’ Lordship is the only path into biblical balance.

Busyness exposes our quest for identity in “what we can do for Jesus” rather than “who we are in Jesus” and “what He has done for us!” We define busy as important, valuable, and productive. But sometimes busy is just a bad task master.

God calls us out of the comfort-zone but not into the red-zone. He calls us to pure-hearted balance—into the faith-zone of hard-working but oft-resting balance.

The greatest works of God are those that are often not visible or measurable to you—things you did not produce and cannot quantify. He is doing things of which you are unaware. So often our frenzy is in an effort to produce something visible and measurable right now— it is often self-congratulatory and comparative. God’s best works will be most clearly seen from an eternal perspective. The things you will most cherish then are not the things you made happen, but things you cannot explain how they happened. Jesus made them happen. These are the works that greatly glorify God.

For the sustainability of your own heart for ministry, live in a healthy zone. Dwell as often as possible in that land between frenzy and apathy. God is pleased with you there, and He is still working even when you aren’t.

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