As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there. (Titus 3:12)
You may remember when we began our study of Paul’s letter to Titus we said the work in Crete appears to have occurred after Paul’s Roman imprisonment at the end of Acts 27. Without a structured chronological account, we are left to piece together the journeys of Paul after his presumed release.
Paul left Titus on Crete to be a resource to the new churches there and to set elders apart for leadership. It is hard to know which was harder, the initial groundbreaking with the gospel on Crete, or the follow-up ministry of Titus. But we can safely assume neither was easy.
Therefore, this morning’s verse was good news to Titus’ ears. Very soon either Artemas or Tychicus was going to be coming to relieve him, and his next stop was the west coast of Greece in the pleasant city of Nicopolis.
As I thought about Titus’ tour of duty on Crete and Paul’s invitation to Nicopolis I was reminded of how important it is for us to have time to recharge our emotional, physical and mental batteries. We can only go for so long before we become less effective, regardless of how hard we work.
I live in an area where a lot of military personnel come and go. I am amazed at how quickly they transition from months of intense battlefield experience to their next assignment. While I know this lifestyle is necessary for our national defense and for the most part soldiers adjust, I am always concerned about those who don’t.
How do we know when we need to recharge? Our answers might differ. I know people who operate like nuclear powered warships, going years without a refueling. But I also know those who are like plug-in cars, since they are good at short-term commitments, but need frequent breaks.
When I was a kid, people were just beginning to talk about “burn-out.” One day my father got tired of people using “burn-out” as an excuse for dropping their responsibilities and their promises to others and he said, “I’d rather burn-out than rust out.” Of course, the ideal is to do neither, but he made his point.
I only know we all come to a place where we need a break. Like cracks in a dam our fatigue starts to compromise our mission, and unless we do something to repair the damage and lessen the pressure, we could reach the position where it is impossible to turn the waters back.
We all need a Nicopolis. I’ll tell you, hands down, mine is the beach. A bad day at the beach is better than a good day anywhere else. And I know this: God doesn’t expect us to go on forever without a recharge. Even nuclear ships have to be refueled. Or else they will find themselves dead in the water. I don’t want to be dead in the water.
Dear God, give me a break. In Jesus’ name, Amen.