The alarm clock on my iPhone jolts me from a deep sleep at 0230 in the morning at the beginning of my work week. It is the very tangible thing that tells me ready or not I have committed myself to the day ahead. In a few hours, I will behind the wheel of a tractor trailer, sitting in the madness of Boston area rush hour traffic, trying to find a way to balance the focus it takes to get the job done safely and keeping my sanity and emotions on an even keel.
And as I sit on the side of the bed for a few minutes, it is during this time that I am keenly aware of just how many times I have traveled around the sun. Even though people tell me all the time that you do not look “that old”. Well, that may be true but the body along with all of its working parts are screaming something much different.
As I grow older I find a fascinating thing happening. It appears that my inner spirit seems to have a more relaxed calm and peacefulness that allows me to navigate this ever-growing complexity of life. That, of course, is a very good thing.
On the other hand, however, I seem to not want to tolerate the stupidity of others that I so easily tolerated many years ago. Which means that I am supposed to show the maturity and wisdom that I have acquired over the years to respond a lot better than before. I think for the most part I am doing pretty well in that area.
I imagine that this happens to us all as we go through different life stages. I would think that the sooner we accept that we are constantly changing, the easier the impact of the change will be.
One of the things that I have noticed also is that we can easily get distracted from our life goal projects with all the daily mundane that consumes a lot of our time. And our challenge is to balance our pursuit of life goals with the responsibilities of daily living.
I think some of the real frustrations that we feel comes from the struggle to balance these necessities. Countless time management books and strategies have emerged to help us to keep a sense of sanity in our lives as we navigate our overscheduled lifestyles. Let’s be honest for a moment. Have you found a sure fire way that the gurus promise to bring sanity back into your life? I dare to say if all of the methods that have been proposed and tried was working for the masses, then they would be out of business.
I find it interesting that God, in fact, addresses this very topic in the Bible. I am always amazed that he knows the emotional ups and downs and worries that plague our lives from time to time. He gives pretty specific instructions about how to cope with this wave of emotions that we experience. Consider what wisdom we get from Phillippians 4:6 NKJV:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Incredible that God wishes us not to be anxious. As a matter of fact, this verse makes it pretty clear that we are to be anxious for nothing. Really? Nothing? Can you name some things that you and I are anxious about? Rent, Mortgage, relationships, money, college or school performance, car problems, high gas prices? Any number of things can make us anxious. World tensions, crime, relentless evil, and the list is long of things that can steal our peace and joy.
It seems that the antidote according to the scripture is to first address our anxieties with prayer. That is simply telling God what is on our hearts and minds. Yes, he knows in advance what we are dealing with, but the conversation is a way of talking to someone who understands in a way that no one else does. Therefore you can tell him all of your fears regarding the things that trouble you. You cannot overwhelm him with your worries. As a matter of fact, he actually wants to hear it all.
The attitude of gratitude seems to play a big role in lessening our anxieties. I think most of us have said from time to time, that perspective can make your problems seem less than perhaps what someone else is going through. For example, you may be complaining about aggravating knee pain, until you pass a man on the street in a wheelchair who has a leg amputation above the knee!
So being thankful for our current condition even though it may seem counterintuitive, will lessen the intensity of what we are feeling. With the mindset of thankfulness to God, we can then have confidence that he cares enough and that he has proven it over and over. We acknowledge what he has already done on our behalf. It is from this point that we can then ask or rather make our requests be known to him.
Now the interesting part here is that the emotional calm and peace that is to come is not generated from within ourselves. Who knows how to give you and I the exact peace to calm our minds and hearts? Yes, of course, God. The peace originates with him so that it goes beyond our understanding of how we can feel calm even in the middle of a storm. Jesus Christ who also has the title of Prince of Peace is the one who will guard our hearts and minds.
Jesus gave us a unique example of just how to have peace in the middle of a storm literally. In the gospels, it is noted that a severe storm came upon the lake as Jesus and his disciples were crossing to the other side. Jesus was sound asleep in the stern of the boat while the waves roared about so much that the experienced seamen were fearful for their lives. They woke him up wondering if he even cared about the peril they were enduring. They were no doubt anxious, even more so they were worried and afraid.
But the Prince of Peace simply wakes up and says to the storm, “Peace be still.” Listen to the gospel account.
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!”And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
While I cannot fault those in the boat with feeling the fear, because in each of our lives we are confronted with storms that will shake us to the core. It is in these times that we need to be reminded of our faith in Jesus Christ, who can easily calm the storms in our heart just as easily as he calmed the actual storm on the seas.