Monday, November 29, 2010

Beating the Holiday Stress (or ANY stress for that matter)

Proverbs 3:5&6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

I'm continuing to read Linda Dillow's book as I've referenced before, here and here and here. The current chapter I'm reading, "Bowing My Life," contains some comments the author included from other readers about turning everything over to God. Each set of comments pointed to partial submission, maybe 98%, but still mentioned that bit of control held in reserve should they need to "take care of things themselves".

I tried to examine my life. I'd like to think God has FULL control. I pray about decisions, even minor ones. I look for God's leading and the Holy Spirit to be evident in situations. So do I still hold a reserve of control? Are there still some keys to this life that I haven't turned over?

God is beginning to show me that there are. It isn't really my finances. They belong to Him. It isn't my job or decisions to be made in our home. They belong to Him. So what is it?

It isn't really as much a what, but a feeling. A situation will come along that affects me. Maybe I didn't see it coming and I really didn't cause it but it is there. And when I think about it, my neck gets tense. My mind whirrs (or as Thomas the Train would say, a thought flies into my funnel). I begin to stew, think, problem solve. (This is really hard to explain.) Sometimes I'm even determining how I will make this right, or in certain situations, how will I make the other person realize they are wrong. Yes, I do that sometimes.

But as the mind turns I feel it in my body. I'm taking over. I'm deciding the fate. I'm making the judgements and I'm deciding the outcome. I feel tense. I'm holding some of the keys that belong to God. Left unchecked or unrecognized, this feeling grows into actions - sins. I treat someone badly. I say hurtful things. I let an attitude steal my joy. I let my desires stear the will of God into the wrong direction. I'm beginning to see this.

So how can I fix it? Well, so far I haven't, but I am learning to recognize it. Feel it. And when I feel that tense feeling start in my neck, I stop. Stop thinking. Stop talking. Stop worrying. And I say three little words. ALL THE KEYS.

This is my declaration. This is my prayer to God. This is my stress relief. ALL THE KEYS. As in, all the keys are Yours. I give this situation to You. I release it to You. I will no longer try to weigh it myself. Immediately the tension is released. The mind is calmed just like the waves must have been when Jesus told them to be still. A peace is found.

Do I do it perfectly all the time? No. I let it go too far sometimes and I mourn for the joy I've lost. But I'm getting better at it. And I'm so enjoying the joy that comes from giving God all the keys to my life. Have a blessed Monday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tornado Warnings and Sleepless Nights

I don't really have anything profound to add to the scripture I found last week, but it has spoken to me several times. It is itself profound in its message. It puts every other worry or issue to rest. It puts everything in God's hands. It is definitely a hard concept to accept for those of us who like to think we have some level of control, but we don't.

I guess I live according to the second half in some way. I've never bought a weather alert radio or stayed up glued to the tv during a storm. I always felt like God would let me know and if it was my time to go, and no hiding in the bathroom would change that :)

"Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves." Ps 127:1-2

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

God's Glory

To pretend I understand God's glory would be a lie. I read a lot about God's glory...that the heaven's declare it, it can so fill a room that people can't even see, it can leave a group of people, people can worship in has many dimensions. I think in my existence I have probably never experienced God's full glory. Maybe no human can. I'd like to think I've seen or felt glimpses of it. I know that I want to feel, see, experience God's glory but that it requires that so much flesh dies that I fear I may never be able to get to that point.

I was listening this week to a song on the radio. It is a song I've heard a lot of times by a band I'm not really that fond of so I've never really thought a lot about the song. But this week a phrase in the lyric really grabbed my attention and I think it holds real meaning for me at least. The lyric goes, "When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory." Pretty simple line, but these words have become powerful for me.

First, can you imagine that being in God's glory, even a little bit of it, can totally eclipse (blot out, make you forget) all your afflictions? That is huge. Why? Because that is what holds most of us back. We spend so much time worrying, pondering, sulking, wallowing and otherwise focusing all our thoughts and efforts on fixing/dealing with our afflictions.

Then, what if everyday we entered into a moment of worship that brought us so close to God's glory that we could walk out into the day totally focused on God and not our afflictions. What a different group of Christians we could be. Maybe that is how the disciples were able to walk away from their businesses and families and follow Jesus. Most of us would have worried sick about everything going on at home, but I think they were so close to God's glory when they walked with Jesus, that their afflictions were totally eclipsed.

So how do we use this in our lives? Well for me, I've been trying to keep this lyric in my mind. When a situation (or a person as it often seems to happen) begins to put my mind in a place where I feel oppressed, stressed, afflicted or irritated I just remind myself that I would much rather have God's glory than feel this affliction. I remember how much greater it is to be in His presence than to be stressed out by this trivial thing. So far, that has given me much more grace in dealing with tough situations. I'm not saying I don't feel the weight of afflictions, but God's glory is beginning to make that weight feel much lighter. Give it a try.

*Disclaimer - I'm on the road and ran out of time to proofread. I hope there aren't too many typos!