To Keep from Being Overwhelmed

bricksWinston 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?"

If You Feel Stressed Today

bluebonnet.jpgLast week, with Christine (who lives in Tennessee) and Jamie (a student at Oklahoma Christian University) both home, we drove to Marble Falls, Texas, about an hour and a half away.  

 
Marble Falls is a little town, not far from Austin, that has a renewed downtown area with lots of shops, etc.  More importantly, it is the home of the Blue Bonnet Cafe.  The Blue Bonnet Cafe is a place well known for its good food — in particular its pies.  Friday afternoon, we stopped by to sample some outstanding pie that alone was well worth the drive.  

 
This cafe is laid back.  I’ve only been there twice, but both times I had the same impression.  This isn’t fast food.  Oh, the service was very good, quick, and responsive.  No, I’m referring to the way the place "feels."  I sense that people come in this cafe to eat a good meal, visit, and then eventually slip out.  We enjoyed being there and being with our children.  We talked, laughed, and told stories.  

 
Years ago, I preached in Pulaski, Tennessee, a small town about an hour from Nashville.  One couple that was particularly encouraging to Charlotte and me in those days was Dennon and Joy Alsup.  Dennon used a word quite often that had a way of relaxing me.  He would said, "Let’s ease over there and get a coke."  Or he might say, "Why don’t we ease by their house and just say hello."  I learned that it was difficult to be in a panic mode (as I would be at times) and use the word "ease" at the same time.

 
I am thankful that God breathes an "ease" in the middle of life that is often characterized more by panic, noise, stress, and hurry.  No matter who you are, you might just need to hear (along with me) that it is God who still rules and controls this world and our lives in particular.   Consider these words from Psalm 46:

 
1 God is our refuge and strength,
       an ever-present help in trouble
.

 
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
       and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

 
3 though its waters roar and foam
       and the mountains quake with their surging.

 
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
       the holy place where the Most High dwells.

 
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
       God will help her at break of day.

 
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
       he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

 
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
       the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 
8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
       the desolations he has brought on the earth.

 
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
       he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
       he burns the shields with fire.

 
10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
       I will be exalted among the nations,
       I will be exalted in the earth."

 
11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
       the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 
This morning I have written this post primarily for myself as I reflect on God as my own place of refuge and strength.  Perhaps you need to hear this as well.  Whether you are a university student, a young single working in a large city, a busy minister, or a young mother with two small children, you may just need to be reminded that God is very much in control.  Does this relate to what you have been thinking about lately?