Here in Israel today, we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee & heard about Jesus walking on the water & Peter joining Him. This was in the middle of a storm & in the middle of night, so there was lots of fear & anxiety. On another occasion, Jesus was sleeping in a boat somewhere in the Sea of Galilee also during a storm. In both scenarios, Jesus had affirmed the trip before the storm started.
My point is that when we follow Jesus, we can’t assume that our lives will be storm free. Indeed, sometimes we will follow Jesus into a storm. And to get through the storm, we must keep following g Jesus. While we follow Jesus, it’s helpful to remember that He’s the Prince of Peace & His peace will overcome any storm 🙂
With the beginning of a new year comes lots of opportunities, quandries, questions and things to be resolved or addressed. For me, these things look like managing kids with changing schedules, planning international trips, navigating limited resources, strategizing for growth, resolving some conflicts and working through some unexpected hiccups.
I could easily get screwed into the ceiling with stress, worry, frustration, fear & anxiety. But a more helpful option is to pray. There’s a really old song about taking to the Lord, our worries, problems, etc . . . ” . . . . ,take it to the Lord in prayer.” Let’s make prayer our first reaction rather than our last resort!
Life seems to have seasons that are stormy, despite our best efforts for stability, serenity & certainty. Stormy seasons can include: getting laid off from a job, a marital crisis, a literal tornado, health accident or diagnosis and LOADS more. If we’ve invited Jesus into our lives as storm prevention insurance, there’s a good chance that we’ll be disappointed. I say this because Jesus never promises us that walking with Him will prevent all storms. Indeed, walking with Jesus can make for some stormy times in life, both in our interior and exterior.
The exterior stormy seasons happen for lots of reasons, but thankfully Jesus gives us peace on the inside that can be greater than the external storm. Sometimes we have seasons in our lives where our guts feel stormy: when we’re unsettled, hurt, disappointed with God, wrestling with temptation, feeling discouraged, depleted or depressed, etc.
I’m thankful that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that there is no storm, internal or external, that Jesus cannot calm. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, no matter the season of life in which we find ourselves!
Once Jesus rose from the dead, I think the disciples maybe had less anxiety for a few reasons. And maybe we could pick up a few pointers that could be helpful, since anxiety could be a challenge for a few of us.
Jesus raising from the dead changed the game because death didn’t get the final say – and nothing is impossible in our lives!
Jesus is in the future – this helps me to relax knowing that Jesus is timeless
Jesus is about the individual & not only the masses – the Prince of Peace was intentional to seek out individual encounters to resolve questions, doubts & reconciliation.
When things seem uncertain or murky, this can be very disturbing. And if you’re like me, when I get unsettled, I can start to flounder and I find myself trying to find stability, certainty and comfort. My focus can get really jumpy and I struggle to be settled in my soul.
So it helps me to remember to keep my focus on Jesus. Indeed, there’s a great song by Darlene Zschech called, Jesus At the Center and listening to this helps me to keep Jesus as my central focus. We don’t have to know all the answers, be all-sufficient, have a perfect plan or fix everything. Jesus rightfully owns that space, so that we can keep our focus & worship centered on Him!
I like what Jehoshaphat says in 2Chron 20:12, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You!”
Let’s stay focused on Jesus instead of any worry, anxiety or uncertainty!
It seems of late that I’m always going somewhere – AZ, CA, NC, PA etc & it feels like I’m in perpetual motion. This is good because I get to share about the daily & supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit. On the other side, I find myself desiring that peace from being still & knowing that God is. With all of the traveling & stresses of work, home, schedules, family etc, we would be wise to learn about carrying peace on the inside. In Job 20:20 it says, “Because he knew no quiet within him, he does not retain anything he desires.”
Here are some ideas about carrying some quiet in our heads wherever we go:
remember to give your anxieties to God
turn to God as a habit & not just in overwhelm mode
let those unexpected cancelled events give you some pause space – don’t fill your schedule to the gills
life has seasons, ebb & flow & we would be wise to go with the flow
it helps me, on occasion, to sit in my car for a few minutes, with no phone or music & just be still
Noah waited in the ark 150 days during the flood cataclysm. When I read that recently, it caught my attention & I began to imagine what that was like for him, surrounded with his family & the animal hordes traveling with him in the ark. I would suspect there was heaps of panic initially, probably fear, anxiety, uncertainty & likely some worry to boot. Being “trapped” in the ark while the earth was deluged from above & below, water thundering on the ark with animals & humans pitching back & forth – this doesn’t sound very appealing. But the other option, drowning in the deluge, wasn’t such a whippy alternative. So the people in the ark could chose, initially between living or dying. Clearly, they chose to stay alive. From that decision, then they needed to manage their fear, uncertainty & anxiety, pausing 150 days in the ark.
Sometimes we find ourselves in “pause” mode & maybe see / hear disasters happening all around us. In these situations, I find my salvation alone in keeping my focus on Jesus & my mind set on the Holy Spirit – Rom 8:5. Listening to & watching the circumstances around us can be debilitating. Make the long term decision to keep your thoughts & focus on Jesus, no matter what 🙂
A shooting spree in the LAX airport? I was in Brazil a few days ago when I read about the guy who went on a shooting spree in the LAX airport. Knowing that I’d be traveling home soon, I can’t say that the shooting spree thing gave me great tranquility. Hmmmmm
But as I’m traveling today, with lots of responsibilities in front of me when I land, I’m opting for a piece of peace rather than slice of stress, remembering that Jesus is my Prince of Peace & He’s got the whole world (including all of my world) in His hands. We can trust Jesus to direct & protect our steps, so let’s chose the piece of peace ,)
I know that many of you don’t need any help with dealing with stress. In fact, you may be a person who is completely immunized from anything stressful so you might find these ideas to be boring. If, however, you find yourself struggling with stress from time to time, these are some things that have helped me of late:
if I get jittery about the future, it’s really helped me to re-adjust my focus to keep it on Jesus, being confident that when I get to the future, Jesus will be there. More importantly, I can be with Jesus now in this moment
provision challenges: sometimes God’s provisions come on a day-to-day basis. With this in mind, I can trust that He is giving me what I need for this day and even this moment
while this may sound cheesy, it’s really helped me alot lately to praise & worship God just on my own without music or even a specific song but just singing my own songs and words that are from my heart
finally, the other day I was up really early & really stressed out; I read an email about a friend who is going through a REALLY DIFFICULT time. Reading about her hardship made me instantly want to pray for her – taking my mind off of me
I believe that God has huge help available for us, even in stressful times ,)