To Keep from Being Overwhelmed
Winston Churchill told the story of a Royal Navy sailor who rescued a boy who had fallen into the frigid waters of Plymouth Harbor. The next day the sailor was walking through the downtown area. Nearby, the boy who had fallen in and his mother were also walking. The boy spotted the sailor, tugged at his mother’s coat, and pointed him out. They began walking toward the sailor. He saw them and assumed that the mother wished to thank him. As they approached him, he looked at the boy, stuck out his chest and beamed with pride. He took off his cap and the lady said, “Young man, are you the one who rescued my boy from Plymouth Harbor?” The sailor replied, “Yes ma’am, I am.” The mother then said, “Well, I would just like to know one thing: Where is that boy’s cap?”
Yes, it is an old story, but it is still relevant. So often we do not live with a spirit of gratitude. Instead we get preoccupied with "missing caps."
To live with gratitude is to live each day understanding that the past, the present, and the future really do belong to God. Far too often we keep rehearsing the past (in particular our blunders, sins, etc.). We miss the importance of the present while we worry about the future.
Now perhaps you don’t need to read any of this. No problem. I am actually thinking about what I need to hear today. I find it very easy to focus on a "missing cap" and in no time I am becoming anxious and preoccupied. My own anxiety at times is not associated with a heavy, burdensome issue in my life. No, often it is nothing more than the accumulation of some very ordinary concerns. A few people I need to call. A situation I need to deal with. Needing to check in with one daughter who has just returned from a long trip. Meanwhile our younger daughter, Jamie, has been home from college the last few days and will be returning tomorrow. So, I want to visit with her.
These sound very ordinary, don’t they? Probably these tasks are not much different than some of what you deal with every day. Yet, these everyday tasks have a way of compiling, like trying to carry a number of bricks. You may have started with one brick, but as you stack one on top of the other, trying to carry such a stack eventually feels overwhelming.
Think of these bricks:
- One more project to start and complete.
- One more unexpected bill.
- One more doctor’s appointment that you had not anticipated.
- One more writing assignment due.
- One more test to take.
- One more situation at work that needs your attention.
- One more clarification you need to make.
- One more conversation you need to have.
Meanwhile I read this morning Hebrews 13:5-6. The context of this encouragement deals with money and contentment. But I love the larger principle: God promises his forever presence.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you."
So we say with confidence,
"The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"