It’s an official word. You’ll find the term brownout in your dictionary, but chances are you already know what one is. You’ve been on the receiving end of the bad news.
Technically, “Brownout is a condition of lower than normal power line voltage being supplied by your local utility or generating equipment.” This condition may be short-term (minutes to hours) or long-term—who knows for how long? A power line voltage reduction of 8 to 12% is considered a brownout.
And how is a brownout different from a blackout? When the power goes down entirely, you get to watch your TV sit in the dark. It means all the electricity is off. That’s a blackout.
But both are bad news. With brownouts, computers do weird things. Motors will slow down and overheat. Voltage regulators sing, and when the voltage goes back to normal, things sizzle. An old proverb goes, “Protection doesn’t cost, it pays”—something we often realize too late to do anything about.
If you are a follower of Guidelines, you understand that I don’t attempt to moralize everything, yet I’m reminded that Jesus gave truth in the framework of life—the woman who lost a coin, a son who took his inheritance and skipped town, the woman whose self-respect had become badly tarnished who drew water in the middle of the day rather than early in the morning when it was cool, the little guy who climbed a tree to see Jesus coming.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
I’ve been thinking of you who listen, who often write, or send e-mails telling about your struggles. You’re just not getting the power through the lines coming from above, and you’re suffering from spiritual brownouts. The 110 volts is running at about 70 volts, or the 220 has dropped down to about 170.
That’s the way it is with your spiritual life as well. A spiritual brownout is the equivalent of an eight-cylinder car running on six cylinders—jerking and loping unevenly, getting hot on the upward pull, burning valves, and threatening to blow up the whole engine.
What can cause a spiritual brownout? Overwork and undernourishment. To much time in the sports section and not enough in the Word. Pushing yourself day after day, thinking that “I’ll get caught up tomorrow,” and when tomorrow comes, it catches up with you.
John Wesley, the father of 22 children, says history, was also a circuit-riding preacher who insisted on getting up at 4 o’clock in the summer, 5 in winter and starting his day with an hour of study and prayer. The more he had to do, the earlier he rose to first ponder and pray about the pressures of his life.
So what do you do when you face a spiritual brownout? There are some things that only God can do, and there are other things that only you can do. Of one thing you can be certain. The flow of spiritual energy which comes from the powerhouse above remains constant. It’s the ebb and flow of life here—the pressures and overload—which pull down the spiritual voltage, and you are the only one who can find quiet time with God, put your nose in the book and take God’s Word to heart, and the only one who can clear the fog out of your thinking as you focus on God and His will for your life.
The sun is always shining, day in and day out, provided you go high enough, high enough to avoid the fog, the smog, the clouds, and the haze. It’s true with God as well. Don’t be content to live with brownout faith when you can be connected directly to the powerhouse of heaven. Thank God, the power supply coming from heaven above can remain undiminished.
Resource reading: Psalm 116:1-19
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally entitled, “Here’s How to Spiritually Encourage Yourself”.