2014 – November – Growing Forward – Are You Experiencing Stress and Anxiety or Peace and Rest?

Are You Experiencing Stress and Anxiety or Peace and Rest?

Do you ever feel like you are being pulled in a million directions?  Are there conflicting interests in your life that are trying to get more and more of your time? Are you experiencing anxiety or stress in your life?  What are we supposed to do when there isn’t enough time to do everything we need to do, or to satisfy everyone around us?

A pastor recently told me about a man in his church who had backed out of teaching a class, and that he, the pastor, was now going to have to teach it. Naturally, the pastor was frustrated because teaching the class would mean being gone from home another night each week. As he shared this struggle to balance his time between home and ministry, the pastor revealed to me that the real problem wasn’t that someone had backed out of teaching; the real problem was what was going on between him and God. More accurately, it was what wasn’t going on between him and God.

After validating the pastor’s feelings, I asked if he felt like God wanted him to teach the class. He quickly responded that there wasn’t anyone else to teach it, so he had to. I mirrored his response back to him, noting that he hadn’t answered my question. I asked again, “Do you believe that God wants you to teach this class?”

When the volunteer backed out of teaching the class, my friend assumed he would have to come up with a solution rather than asking God what He had in mind. But here’s the problem: When we try to fix something by coming up with our own solution, all we have to draw from is our own limited resources and abilities. And when we do that, we are destined to live in the land of second-guessing. We simply don’t have the time or resources to satisfy all the needs around us.

Trying to deal with things ourselves takes God out of the equation. And if our usual way of handling things is to leave God out, we will never walk in confidence and find the peace and rest God has for us.

To experience God’s peace and rest, we must get the weight of responsibility off our shoulders and put it where it belongs—with God. He really does have a perfect and complete solution for every situation we find ourselves in. When we know and follow His solution, we can be confident that everything is going to be all right and that we will experience His peace and rest.

Going back to my friend’s situation: If God wants him to teach the class, he can rest in knowing that God has his family covered while he is teaching. And if he is not supposed to teach the class, he can rest in knowing that God is either calling someone else to teach, or perhaps there isn’t even supposed to be a class.

If he isn’t supposed to teach the class but does so out of his own attempt to fix the situation, then he will actually find himself getting in the way of what God wants to do. Either the person God wants to raise up to teach the class won’t be able to, or God won’t be able to deal with the person who, out of a futile attempt to fix their own circumstances, is pushing to have a class that really isn’t the answer God has for their situation.

When we do things out of our own flesh to fix people’s situations, we rob them of the blessing of drawing everything they need from God.

What about you? If you and I were having a cup of coffee and you were telling me all the things that are pulling at your schedule, and I asked whether God had told you to do each of those things, what would you say? If God has told you to do them, you can rest in knowing He has everything covered, even if it doesn’t look like it. After all, God never does something for one person at the expense of another.

What’s right for one person fits perfectly with God’s plan and solution for all concerned. If He hasn’t told you to do something, don’t do it just because it seems like the right thing to do, or because other people want you to. That’s what causes us to feel anxiety and stress as we are being pulled in multiple directions. God really is your Rock.

A good rule of thumb is, if you are feeling anxiety, stress, or fear, you have probably taken God out of the equation and are trying to do things out of your own ability and resources.  The reason you are feeling those feelings is because while consciously you may think you can pull it off on your own, subconsciously you know better.

When you hear from God and do exactly what He tells you to do, drawing everything you need from His infinite wisdom and resources, you will experience the peace that passes all understanding and enter into His rest.

 

“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:32-34 (NIV)

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