Thursday, October 20, 2016
What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all. Psalm 65:1-3(NLT)
Thoughtful, or inward-exploring people, are those who spend much time searching-out their inner life. It can be a problem.
We are labeled introverts, and not incorrectly; our energy is quickly consumed by the outer life of engaging with others. Most of our re-energizing comes from spending time alone. Humans are made with rechargeable emotional batteries, but one size does NOT fit all! Extroverts recharge when in a crowd with opportunities to talk, laugh and kick the party up a notch. Introverts find an excuse to go home and sit with a book or just scratch the dog’s belly.
Just like you wouldn’t try to run a 220 volt dryer with a couple of double-A Energizers, you don’t cheer-up an introvert by scheduling a surprise party at his house; that’s where introverted batteries go to die!
I’ve been an introvert long enough to have figured out that I won’t die if I engage with people. But I can go on life-support if I spend too much time alone. Of course I’m pointing to the concept of balance which people need in life. To do the math, extroverts may need a balance of 80% group hugs, and only 20% alone time. Introverts can wear down quickly if it’s not the other way around.
I am somewhat convinced that King David was an introvert; he wrote of being overwhelmed by our sins. David’s life was quite public (being a king will tend towards that!), and so were his sins and failures. The consequences of being an adulterer, and being publicly humiliated by God’s prophet for that, as well as conspiracy to commit murder to cover his reputation, were such that David was driven deep within to search out his heart. David prayed:
Have mercy on me, O God…blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Psalm 51:1-3
This was the prayer of a man deeply-convicted by sin and guilt; David was overwhelmed and yet he was still called a man after God’s own heart.[ii] I believe this is so because, though David was up against his own sin, the devil’s accusation and the possibility of losing everything, this introvert knew enough to lay out his case before God and pray for mercy, not justice.
Assured of forgiveness, David went on, warts and all, to serve God for many years. And God used him to build the kingdom and create many of the beautiful Psalms that help us worship and know God.
I have known quite a few pastors who, like David, engage with people in a public ministry, but when the meeting is over they must run home to recharge, to re-connect with the inner life. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, legendary preacher at the London Tabernacle, was the most famous of ministers of his day, speaking to thousands each week. They may not have termed it “introversion” in his day, but it’s clear from some of what he wrote that he battled being an introvert in a world run by extroversion:
I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to. But I always get back again by this–I know that I trust Christ. I have no reliance but in Him, and if He falls, I shall fall with Him. But if He does not, I shall not. Because He lives, I shall live also, and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and get the victory through it. And so may you do, and so you must, for there is no other way of escaping from it.[iii]
Overwhelmed? Follow David’s tracks to the altar; that’s where the healing begins.
[ii] Acts 13:22