What a wonderful summer it’s been! I’ve had the amazing opportunity to spend it in full-time ministry for nine weeks, teaching kids about God from his Word and sharing the amazing gospel of grace. I’m so grateful for everything that’s happened and the way God has been working in all of it. I’ve been tired, I’ve been worn, I’ve been weak, I’ve been stressed and sick and overwhelmed–but what life I’ve found in this. It’s such a beautiful thing, and my Rock is that God is faithful. None of this has been about me in the first place, no matter how much I may act like it in my pride. He’s shown me that more than once.
My prayer is that I can hold on to that, clinging desperately. School starts a week from now, and there’s so much I still have to do–so many demands and decisions and conflicting commitments. This summer, I’ve learned that when I’m in that place, of being totally lost amid the different demands tugging me this way and that and feeling like I’m going to drown amid all the work and all the scheduling and all the things on my list that have to get done–I’ve learned that there’s only one place to go.
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
He promises to safeguard your heart and mind. Safeguard. There’s something about that word. Other translations use words like keep, protect, et cetera, but there’s just something about the concept of safeguard that I love. Maybe it’s because I know I need it. When my mind is so full it feels like I’ll burst with all the things I have to juggle and all the things I have to think about and everything tugging and pulling me this way and that and my heart is a turmoil of mixed emotion and inconstancy–the idea of a safeguard, holding the good things in and keeping the bad things out, is a welcome thought.
I picture an actual wall, the kind of thing they used to have in the medieval days, where the outer wall was the first line of defense in your castle. The kind of wall that’s ten feet thick and made of stone and iron.
This wall of mine, it has no holes, no weaknesses. But a wall, you say–things can get over a wall. You could dig a tunnel underneath or let fly an arrow over. So let’s add a nice force field as well. An impenetrable orb of energy.
Oh, and just for fun, how about some archers of my own? After all, the Weymouth New Testament translates this passage as “And the peace of God, which transcends all our powers of thought, will be like a garrison to guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Let’s garrison this fortress of my heart and mind with an arsenal of truth.
Voila. I think God’s got me pretty covered.
If nothing else this summer, I’ve learned what a refuge prayer can be. I get so easily frustrated, so easily consumed by the little things that become so BIG in my mind.
But…He is bigger.
Despite all the doubts, anxieties, worries, voices, demands, expectations, choices, pressures, burdens, fears I face, the fear of the LORD is greater. Because when you fear the Lord, it means an awe of who he is. When you’re in awe of who he is, when you see the awesomeness of his power and his might and his glory and his strength and his wrath and his purity and his holiness and his passion, when you recognize who this God is–everything else becomes small.
The antidote to anxiety? Truth and trust. Bury yourself in His Word until you find what it is you seek. The beautiful thing is, his promise is always true. He is with me, whether I necessarily “feel” him or not.
Wash yourself in who he is. Recognize the truth of the God you serve, and realize that he won’t ever fail you when you trust in him, because he is greater than the problems you face. Love him, delight in him, until everything else seems small in light of him.
Psalm 73:26 – My heart and flesh may fail, but the Lord is my strength and my portion forever.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
May the Lord safeguard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. May you recognize him for who he is, and take refuge in prayer and in promise. May you build your house upon the Rock and live your life in light of eternity.
Hate is not the opposite of love, and neither bravery nor courage is the opposite of fear. For courage is doing something in spite of fear; love is brave. Hate acknowledges a relationship with someone; fear refuses to give them a chance. That’s why fear and love are such perfect opposites: they prevent each other. They can’t both be in the same place.
But I know which is stronger.
I have to wonder if it’s worth it, this busy life we lead.
If because of it we’re missing out, on what we really need.
I am so sick and tired of all of this, sometimes. Of all the running around, scrambling to get everything done, my mind split into a million pieces all wondering what’s next, losing the now as I stress over the next thing. How do I have time for it all? How do I get it done?
It’s a cultural phenomenon: we’re all becoming busier. I have so many different things pulling at my attention, I don’t know which way to turn. So many demands to be met, so many expectations to be reached, so many responsibilities to carry out, so many options tugging at my mind, so little time to do it all.
The simple thing would be just to say no to some of it, wouldn’t it? But no–I can’t do that. I don’t want to miss out.
Besides, I like it–don’t I?
Yeah! Yeah, I enjoy all the things I’m involved in–but I keep myself from fully enjoying them, because by the time I get there, I’m already stressing about how to fit in the next thing.
Just. Taking. The. Time. To. Breathe.
This craziness might also have to do with a major indecision in my life: namely, what I want to do with it. I am passionate about so many things…
Writing? Oh, yes, I have a passion for writing. I am absolutely and irrevocably in love with words, the beauty, the majesty, the music of them–of the English language–of all language. Oh, yes I have a passion for these written words. But…I also have a passion for the spoken word: for theatre, its lights and its drama. And I have a passion for the visual arts, the swirl of a paintbrush and the footprint it leaves behind. And I have a passion for science, for biology and genetics. For books with crinkled pages and people with smiling eyes and a world full of wonder waiting to be discovered, yes–I have a passion, for all of these, and above all I have a passion for my sweet and powerful Jesus. So really, you can’t blame me, for not knowing which way to go, not when there are so many beautiful options…
It doesn’t help, you know, the pressure from, well, everywhere, to know. I get asked it often: “Where are you going to college? What are you going to study? What career are you going to?” I’ve been being asked since FRESHMAN YEAR. It instates a kind of learned panic in me, now, the uncertainty of it, because the nature of the question implies that other people–they know. And if you don’t you’re behind.
And frankly, it’s hard, not knowing, because you don’t limit yourself. I’m involved in so many things, it’s hard to focus on just one. But really, should I have to?
My whole family is busy. Today alone there have been four different sports games people have had to get to. This week is tech week for my show (For those of you not familiar with theatre: tech week basically = chaos. At least in that it’s a very time-consuming process). So even when one of us has a moment–like me, this afternoon–the rest are out and about.
And there are times. My family, especially my parents, is actually really good at getting in quality time, something I really do appreciate–more than I act like it a lot of times, because I am so stressed. And it’s not fair that life is slipping away from me, and I feel weary already.
Isn’t this supposed to be the time when I’m at my peak, vibrant and full of life? No wonder more and more teenagers are developing anxiety disorders and depression. In fact, I’ve been there too. And if that’s you, right now, can I just take a second to encourage you: don’t give up. The fight’s not over yet. You’d be amazed at what can happen, if you just, keep, going, even when its hard. Especially when its hard. When it hurts. Those are the times, honestly, for me in my life, that I look back to, and that inspire me to keep going now. The times from which I learned the most. It’s a beautiful thing, restoration, redemption–so keep going. I want you to see it.
Because I know–some days, it feels like it will never end.
It would be nice if we could all just take a single day away from it all, all at once, all together. It would be nice, for a moment, to focus on each other, rather than the next thing on our to-do lists. Isn’t that what really matters?
This weekend was my mom’s birthday. Have I mentioned how amazing my mom is? I don’t know how she does it. If I’m half as good at parenting as she is, my kids will be lucky. But you know what? With rehearsals and schoolwork and projects and exams and tech week and commitments–I didn’t even make her a card. It slipped my mind, and I didn’t have time. But hey, I shot her a text, right? That’s something!
I don’t know. I just challenge you–this week, to take a moment to do something for someone else. Just something small. It’ll change their day. But even if it doesn’t–I guarantee it’ll change yours.
Just a thought.