How do you react to stress? I know we all handle it differently. One of the times i was stressed out, i couldn’t sleep. I had so many things going on that i couldn’t control. Those problems started causing other problems and things started to compound. The things I couldn’t control became all I could think about. I couldn’t sleep or eat much because i was so worried about all these things. Then my eye started to twitch, which drove me nuts. I figured I could control that so I went to the eye doctor. After checking out my eyes, he said, “There’s nothing wrong. This is usually a sign of stress. You’re not stressed are you?” I laughed and said, “Just a little.” I loved under that stress for a while because i kept letting my thoughts run wild about all the things I couldn’t control.
I eventually learned that worrying about things I couldn’t control was robbing me of so many things. I realized that i had to focus on what i could control which was my thoughts and spending time with the one who is able to control the things I can’t. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive. That means to stop them in their tracks, interrupt them and get them out. I had to train myself to quit letting them go wherever they wanted and force them into obedience to Christ. They don’t have a right to control me. I have been given authority to control them. Once I realized that, I began to use the Bible as my benchmark of truth against the thoughts. When I held them up to the Bible in comparison to what God says, if they didn’t line up, they had to go.
King David reacted to stress the same way. He let his thoughts get out of control until he was stressed out. He wrote Psalm 94:19 showing he learned to quiet them. He wrote, “Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight” (TPT). Many times, we simply need to get out of the present and into His presence to regain control. I like to turn the tide by turning on praise and worship to get in His presence and to start realigning my thoughts. I can then cast my burdens on the Lord and quit trying to do things in my strength. There are many things He created us to do, but carrying burdens that we can’t control isn’t one of them. We rob ourselves of the peace He offers and rob Him of things that should be on His plate instead of ours. If you’re anxious and overwhelmed today, make time to get into His presence and challenge those anxious thoughts. He offers you peace, calmness and His burdens instead.
The day after Christmas is one of the busiest days of the year in the retail world. Everyone is out returning what they got for Christmas. Either it didn’t fit or they didn’t like it, so they returned it. Today, you and I have the same opportunity in our lives. We have the choice to send back the things that we don’t like in our lives and exchange them for the things we want. It boils down to a choice that you make. You can hold onto the things you don’t want in your life and accumulate a bunch of junk that weighs you down or you can return it.
Each of us have picked up things in our lives this year that we don’t want. Each of us have had things happen that we didn’t see coming. Each of us have held onto something too long and it’s keeping us back. In order to make 2020 the year we want it to be, we have to let go of the things that are holding us down. You can’t pick up the good things that will come your way if your hands are full of the things you’d rather return. You can’t be free unless you let go of the things that are keeping you in a self imposed prison. You make the choice to stay locked up in the past or to be free to receive what the future holds.
Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on The Lord releasing the weight of it and He will sustain you (AMP).” He doesn’t mind you returning the things that weigh you down or hold you back. He wants you to release the weight of those things that are holding you back and He will strengthen and support you. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus tells us to go to Him when we’re weary from carrying the things that hold us back. Give them to Him and take His yoke. In The Message, Jesus says, “I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.” What He gives fits and is perfect for you. Get Free today by exchanging the things in your life that you don’t want for the things He wants you to have.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
On any trip to Israel, visiting Galilee is a must. One of the places I enjoy most is the Mount of Beatitudes. As I was sitting up there, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, I watched boats crossing back and forth. I couldn’t help but think of when Jesus sent the disciples to the other side while he went up the mountain to pray. While they were making their way across, a fierce storm overwhelmed them. Their focus was on surviving the storm, and not on Jesus who sent them across the sea by themselves. From where Jesus was sitting, He never lost sight of them. So when He walked on water, He knew right where to go.
It’s not hard to lose sight of Jesus in our lives. Life gets hard and rarely goes as planned. We can get rocked by a diagnosis, our spouse walking out or something happening to one of our kids. In those moments, life often becomes a battle for survival. We can lose sight of Jesus and wonder where He is in the middle of our chaos. I can tell you that He’s never taken His eye off of you. If He doesn’t come walking on water to save you, keep rowing, but also make sure you take the time to find Him. We know that if you seek Him, you will find Him. I’ve found that the times I’m most overwhelmed by the things happening in my life are the times my relationship with Him is strengthened because I realize I can’t do it without Him.
Song of Songs is an allegory of Jesus and us. In Song of Songs 1:8, Jesus calls out to us, “Listen, my radiant one— if you ever lose sight of me, just follow in my footsteps where I lead my lovers. Come with your burdens and cares. Come to the place near the sanctuary of my shepherds” (TPT). The beautiful thing about Him is that He’s waiting for us, chaos and all, to find Him. He loves us no matter how crazy our life is or how far away from Him we’ve gone. It’s always a shorter journey back to Him than it was leaving Him, and He’s never taken His eye off of you. If you’re burdened down today, or blinded by your worries, take them to Him and rest in the fact that you are loved and His strength is made perfect in your weakness.