It was interesting reading the comments that people shared on my last post. For those that might have missed it, I posted:
It is possible for us to rest in the Lord and still be “stressed out.”
True or False? And why?
I realized that people were going to have different interpretations of what “stressed out” meant, and I wanted that. Each of us has a slightly different relationship with God, each of us handles stress in different ways, and each of us is “stressed out” in different ways. I wanted the answers to portray those differences. Because of this, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer. But I do want to share what God has shown me, through my own life.
I think of stress as pressure–pressure brought against me by people or circumstances around me, and pressure I put on myself through my own desires, perceptions, expectations, etc.
Most of you have probably read the testimony I wrote last January, relating how far God has brought me in learning to trust Him. (I thought it was about money, in particular, though the lessons are definitely spilling into many other areas of my life.) As that story shows, I was frequently stressed out. In fact, just the thought of where we were at financially and where we could potentially find ourselves in just a few short months was enough to reduce me to a mass of worry. I felt like I was about to be crushed by the responsibility of making ends meet and “doing things right.”
Anyone else ever felt that way??
Last week, however, I realized something. My husband and I are basically in the same financial position we’ve been in for the last 6 years. We’re still living paycheck to paycheck, and we still frequently look at the bills and wonder how in the world they’ll get paid. Only now the economy is firmly down. Now my husband’s company is getting rid of employees. In fact, if you look at all the indicators, we have more stress pressing against us than we did.
But I am not stressed out.
Last week, for example, I looked at the bills, considered the paycheck that was expected Friday, and saw that we were going to be $200 shy of making the mortgage payment. But the fear of not making our payment obligations never came. I did have to toss a few devil-inspired thoughts out of my head…but the tossing was done rather calmly. In fact, my overall feeling was, “This will be interesting to see how this works out.”
Is this brief summary succeeding at all in portraying what a huge difference this is for one Ohio woman named Katie?
The stress factors are the same or worse than they were two years ago. My history of watching God’s faithfulness is now only slightly longer than it was then. What is it, then, that has made the difference? Why do these things now press no deeper than my skin? What keeps them from reaching the real me—my spirit, my emotions, and my mind? How can I now see the pitiful smallness of the dust pile that was once my mountain? (And pitiful it was, for He had no trouble providing the money for yet another mortgage payment.)
The answer to all these questions is that God has given me a deeper revelation of submission and the trust that comes along with it. But this revelation involves more than His promised provision—far more. Not only am I able to trust that He will continue to pay our bills as long as paying those is right in His eyes, I am also able to trust that He will guide me in how to use whatever money He entrusts to my keeping…and that He has already made plans to cover the mistakes I will make. I now know I can trust that I will accomplish what He intends for me to accomplish today, and that trust keeps me from feeling rushed. I am able to trust that He will raise my children to be the man and women He has called them to be, regardless of my mistakes and the differences of opinion between my husband and I. I am able to trust that the new struggle that has found its way into my marriage is yet one more dust-pile that He will sweep aside when He no longer needs to make an object lesson out of it.
Quite honestly, I have discovered what it means to rest. (At least, to a certain degree. It will be marvelous to discover what untapped wells of rest are waiting for me!)
And I have learned that when the pressures, struggles, and stress of life do make it inside me, that is a red flag—a signal that I have reached a lesson that I have yet to learn—that I am missing something that will enable me to watch these struggles from place of rest. Yes, watch them, not fight my way through them. Because if God has taught me anything through these last six years, it’s that I have only begun to tap the strength and peace and power that He has waiting.
So you there, with the heavy burdens weighing on your shoulders. Whether you’re man or woman, boy or girl, stranger or the woman in my mirror…you say that life gave you those burdens and it will always give you more. You listen to a voice that says it’s impossible to live without feeling the weight of them. I remind you that Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
I challenge you to surrender those heavy burdens and watch how easily He carries what weighs you down. Take His yoke in place of those burdens and let Him guide your steps, for He is a gentle taskmaster and His yoke weighs almost nothing. It is certainly nothing compared to His strength, which He can make flow through you.
You say you don’t know how? Frankly, I don’t either. But thankfully, His Spirit has come to teach us all things, and this just might be one of the most glorious of them. And somehow, He is capable of doing things inside of us that we don’t understand. For He understands it all.
All He asks for is our surrender…