Tag Archives: stress

2 Samuel 13; 2 Corinthians 6; Ezekiel 20; Psalms 66, 67

I recently ran seven miles nonstop. This was a really big deal for me because I’m preparing to run a half-marathon next year, and there’s a part of me that feels intimidated by the distance. I was truly surprised at how good I felt when I finished the mileage. I was surprised I did it. When I was in my twenties, I was very athletic. When I was in my forties, I was very not athletic. In fact, I was unhealthy, overweight, stressed and grieving.

This week when I set out on my long run, I did seven miles again, shaving nearly a minute of my per-mile pace. I was so very thankful to God for all of it. I remember thinking, “I forgot I was an athlete.” And I felt like God reminded me: you forgot a lot of things.

In Louie Giglio’s book Not Forsaken, I nearly choked at this sentence: “You are no longer a slave to the abuse or addictions of your parents or to the grave where your father is buried.” (198) I sat in awe–Lord, I forgot I am no longer a slave. And He filled in the blanks of other things I forgot–that I am capable and equipped for the tasks He has prepared for me; I am given my own skill set to bring Him glory; I am loved, valued and chosen; I am His daughter.

Today, when I read Paul’s words, he sets my focus straight. My heart and thoughts sometimes get caught in a tug-of-war among the media, my own issues, other opinions, and what is right.

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:1-16, NLT, emphasis added)

Lord, I need You and Your Word every day. I forget. I forget when I’m distracted or worried or stressed. I forget when I am overwhelmed. I forget when I am angry. But You and Your Word are never far, and always ready to guide the way. Thank you for reminding me, for giving me freedom, for showing me the way, for saving me.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

1 Kings 19-21; 2 Chronicles 17; Matthew 24

I listened to a podcast where the host remembered an interview with a businessman about priorities, and he said that taking care of health was the single most important thing one could do for his business. I wonder if business classes teach the importance of self care?

Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.

But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:3-13, NLT)”

I looked up an image of a broom tree, and imagined Elijah there. I emphasized words in this reading that resonated with me–about feeling afraid and alone, weary and despaired. Stress and worry and hustle are killers, consuming from the inside out.

Rest, nutrition, finding quiet before the mountain amidst the storm and chaos, listening for the Lord–are these things so seemingly simple that they get neglected in the flurry and fury of flight/fight mode? These things have become the top of my tending list, not an afterthought behind a lengthy to-do, and not my last resort when I have exhausted myself. Not anymore.

Father God, I am so grateful for your tender care. Your Word often reminds me of your sovereignty and strength–especially when I feel so small and insignificant. Thank you for meeting me daily in my walks. You are my source of life.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 1 Kings, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38-40; Psalm 68; 1 Corinthians 11

I remember watching an actress being interviewed, and she told a story of how her dad said that when life felt like it was too much, to go stand on the beach and look up and around, and she would see how small she and all the issues of her life really are. I imagined this woman, who had had success and fortune and a measure of pull, feeling overwhelmed, and that she needed to know somewhere in her soul that she was small. That she was held.

26 Look up into the heavens.
    Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
    calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
    O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:26-31, NLT)

 

The issues in life sometimes feel consuming, pressing in from all sides, stealing peace, stealing rest, and I am reminded that the enemy prowls crouched to pounce–a thief to steal, kill and destroy. But my God is sovereign. When I feel defeated, he reminds me of his victory. When I feel weak and powerless, he will be my power and strength. When I trust in him, I will find new strength to soar, to run, to walk and not faint.

Lord, I feel your loving hand upon my face, turning my gaze to focus again and again on you. When I look too long at my problems, they get bigger. But when I remember who you are, things fall back into perspective. You created everything I see. You hold all time. You know my troubles. You know my heart. It is so good to know you and to be known by you. Grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10-11; Titus 1

In the New Testament, Paul shows the contrast in example (elders versus rebellious people)–because people are watching. He appoints Titus to select elders in each town.

An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife, and his children must be believers who don’t have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. An elder is a manager of God’s household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.

Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good. He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life. He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong. Titus 1:6-8, NLT (emphasis mine)

Because there are other influencers who are turning whole families away from God.

10 For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. 11 They must be silenced, because they are turning whole families away from the truth by their false teaching. Titus 1:10-11, NLT. (emphasis mine)

Circumcision isn’t a qualifier for salvation in my circles, but I do know people who imply that service, perfection, charity, etc. are markers of salvation. I feel cautious about sharing my bad-day feelings with them, feel pressure to push myself to serve/host/give sometimes at the cost of peace in my home (or in myself). In recent weeks, I’ve tried to balance so many things that when a child’s health problem (and lifestyle changing diagnosis) got put on top, I found I was dropping pieces–distracted, forgetful, stressed, overwhelmed, grouchy.

I kind of need a reset.

I look into an elder’s role, an example, and I see the starting block of faith/belief. So, I’ll start there.

Lord, you know the things that have been pulling me into so many directions they’re pulling me apart. Lord, I give you my heart and my life, because it’s safe (loved, precious) in your hands. Thank you for being able to handle my bad-day feelings and for giving me peace (especially when I dropped it all). Please speak into my life about discipline and wisdom. Thank you for putting so many people into my life to be an example and encouragement through this change.

Courtney (66book365)

 

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1 Kings 10-11; 2 Chronicles 9; 1 Timothy 6

I admit reading of Solomon’s riches and feasts and wisdom left me longing. But then two things:

When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, which brought honor to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. 1 Kings 10:1, NLT.

And, regarding his many wives–especially those the Lord said not to marry because they’d turn his heart away from God:

And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord. 1 Kings 11:2b, NLT.

1. His fame brought honor to the Lord.

2. And even a man so wise could go down a wrong path.

I’ve been overwhelmed to a crashing point when all the responsibilities I thought I could carry (and somehow balance) fell down around me after weeks of a child’s health issue got heaped on top. I’ve felt the pressure, too, to have a good attitude while this is going on–but at the end of every day, I’m acutely aware of my failure.

Every day: failure.

It has brought me low, for sure, and I find myself asking: Who am I in the midst of chaos? And who do I want to be?

So, reading of Solomon’s wealth and parties and abundance, at first glance, didn’t help me much where I am under a variety of pressures. But 1 Timothy 6 did.

But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. 13 And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 15 For,

At just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 16 He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.

17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

20 Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. 21 Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness. 1 Timothy 6:11-21, NLT.

Pursue. Fight. Hold tightly. Guard.

Lord, today my trust is in you. Thank you for your word, your strength and your provision. Thank you for loving me, especially on my worst days.

Courtney (66books365)

(I did go back and read the Old Testament scriptures more thoroughly and appreciated the pairing of Solomon’s wealth with the New Testament reminder of true riches. Sadly, Solomon’s wealth and wisdom didn’t prevent him from making choices that led him away from God. Paul’s instructions to Timothy were exactly the reminder I needed of who I am–a woman of God–and what to pursue. I can easily be distracted by the demands in my life and judge my success/failure by my ability to perform, but Paul reminds to pursue a godly life [as in God-focused life, not a flawless life as I sometimes dupe myself into thinking]. I look to God for the strength and provision to get through this and get done what needs to be done. He carries me, and always has.)

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