What is Your ‘Why’?

running

In the race of life, there are moments when we forget why we are running. We focus on how to be better, faster, and stronger. We waste fruitless hours bemoaning the uneven ground, the unexpected rocks, the sand in our shoes, and more. We see something lovely,  our breath momentarily suspended, only to trip over our own feet and hit the ground.

It’s a long, hard race.

(Can I get an amen?)

In this race, every person, at some moment in time asks the question, ‘Why am I here?’ or ‘Why am I doing this?’.

Indeed, why are you here?

Why do you do what you do?

What do you want to be remembered for when you cross the finish line?

For myself, the past seven years have been like a never-ending obstacle course. I’ve bounded over hurdles, climbed ropes (and mountains), dodged flying objects—all in the effort to keep forward momentum. I cannot count the times I hit the ground and wondered aloud, “why on earth am I here?”

The answer is simple: I am here to glorify God. That is, and always has been, God’s intended purpose for my life and the lives of countless others. That is my “why.”

My “why” should dictate how to best serve God, my family and those within my circle of influence.

Whys from the Word

Why #1: I serve Christ

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.
You are serving the Lord Christ.

~ ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:23-24‬ 

Why #2: I fear the Lord.

The end of the matter; all has been heard.
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

~ Ecclesiastes 12:13

Why #3: I love God and my neighbors.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God,
and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

~ 1 John 4.7-8

 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love,
I am nothing.

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,
but have not love,
I gain nothing.

~ 1 Corinthians 13.1-3

We glorify God when we serve Him, fear Him and love Him.

“But, my job is lousy and my boss is a jerk!”

Who are you working for? You are working to provide for your family because you love them. You are working to provide for yourself so as not to burden others. You are working for the Lord. Remember your “Why.”

“My spouse/kids/parents fail to appreciate anything I do!”

Did Jesus’ disciples appreciate everything He did for them? Not really. If we love God and love others, we will love like Jesus loved.

“I can’t talk about God at work or at school. I’ll get fired/disciplined.”

Who do you fear more? God or people? Be an example of joy, hope, faith, and love. Be prepared to give an answer for the hope within you. Don’t hesitate to give credit where it is due. If you are working diligently and cheerfully in a lousy situation and someone asks, ‘How can you possibly be happy in this doing this?!’, you reply, ‘I’m working for the Lord.’ In doing this, you will have shown and spoken your purpose. Fear God.

Is life frustrating and purposeless for you? Make a list of the things which seem meaningless and ask yourself if you are fulfilling the purpose of the Lord by doing these things. If you are not, you need to re-evaluate what you are doing and adjust how or what you are doing to fulfill the Lord’s purpose for you.

 

Why do you seek Jesus?

pensieve

Why do you choose to follow Jesus?

Do you pursue Jesus so that you will have wealth? Do you seek to be free from loneliness by joining yourself to a church? Do you seek to be honored and respected?

I read things all the time from people who say that God intends for us to be wealthy and happy and a lot of other nonsense. God does not want us possess mere happiness—he wants us to have joy. The joy of the Lord transcends circumstance and is part of an abundant life. True riches are found in Christ and cannot be altered by the government, stock markets, or thieves.

Why do you seek Jesus?

In John 6, Jesus performs an amazing miracle. He takes five loaves of bread and two little fish and feeds a crowd of five thousand men, not including women and children. After everyone has eaten their fill, His disciples collect twelve baskets of leftovers. With their bellies full and their eyes amazed, the people in the crowd consider taking Jesus “by force to make Him King.” (John 6.17)

Further on in the passage, their minds still full with dreams of endless bread, they chase Him down to Capernaum:

On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.

So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

~ John 6.22-27, ESV, emphasis mine

In spite of all Jesus had taught and the miracles He had performed, these people were still stuck on their stomachs. They wanted a king who would feed them so their labor could be put toward their other desires (if they even desired to work at all). If Jesus could do such a miracle, He could likely overthrow the Roman rule they despised. Their hearts were focused on the physical, but Jesus turned their minds to the spiritual. He teaches them some difficult truths in the remaining verses of the chapter. When they hear these things (and also realize that He has no intention of becoming an earthly king nor feeding them breakfast), John records that they “turned back and no longer walked with Him.”

If we seek Jesus in order to have physical abundance, we are seeking Him for all the wrong reasons. The rich young ruler sought Jesus, but when Jesus asked Him to forsake His wealth, he turned and walked away. Jesus tested the young man, and He failed miserably. It is possible to have earthly abundance, but if you are given such, God expects you to use it to fulfill His purpose.

“Do not work for the food that perishes…”

Some will abuse this passage by saying that we should not work. On the contrary, the scriptures encourage us to be diligent workers, laboring “as unto the Lord and not men.” If you want to have wealth, put your boots on, hit the pavement, and work. Does that mean that disaster will not strike? Does it mean the stock market will never crash? Does it mean hyper-inflation will never rob you of your hard-earned cash?

My friends, these things are all temporary. Someday they will perish.

“[Work] for the food that endures to eternal life.”

This ought to be our primary purpose for seeking Jesus: eternal life. History bears out the fate of the early Christians: imprisonment, torture, stoning, poverty, ridicule, isolation, abuse, crucifixion, lion feed, and humiliation. It doesn’t sound like what we would consider an abundant life. On the other hand, the people who witnessed their fate observed inner peace, strength under fire, love without measure, and a joy that transcended circumstance. The Christians possessed a quality that piqued the interest of non-believers—they reflected Jesus.

Do you want to have that abundant life?

Ask yourself, “Why do I seek Jesus?”

Do you seek Jesus to fill your belly or to satisfy your soul forever?

 

Why are you sleeping?

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Taken by Schuyler Shepherd (Unununium272).

And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

~ Luke‬ ‭22:40-46‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There are so many reasons we need to engage in regular prayer with the Lord. Throughout the gospels, we repeatedly see Jesus taking time to pray alone. What does He pray about? Some prayers are recorded, some are not, but He sets an example for us to go to the Father and lay our hearts before Him.

Here, in the gospel according to Luke, Jesus gives His disciples an immediate command, and He does it twice: “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” After the initial command, Jesus also gets down and prays. He leads by example.

He gets up from His prayer and walks over to His disciples. They are so overcome with sadness that they had fallen asleep. It’s possible they fell asleep while they were praying (has that ever happened to you?). I can’t imagine how embarrassing that would be to have Jesus catch you sleeping when you were supposed to be praying. Peter—of all people—should have been praying (and sweating) because Jesus told Him earlier that Satan had asked to “sift him like wheat.”

“I can’t believe they fell asleep!”

The disciples never seem to fully grasp the perilousness of their position.

We, too, often fail to consider the precariousness of our situation until we are waist-deep in it. We fire off brief “arrow prayers,” but fail to get on our knees each and every day for some solid time with the Lord. Arrow prayers have their place, but they should not replace quiet, dedicated time alone with God.

Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Just last week, I wrote a post on the importance of committing the Word to our heart so we can fight temptation (click here to read it). Study and prayer go together like bones and marrow—only when the two work together can we have life.

We, like Peter, have too much confidence in our own strength and conviction. Strength and conviction will not be enough when Satan decides to tempt us, and He pursues us every minute of every day. He wants us to fail desperately because we do not belong to Him!

Peter might have had this experience in mind when he wrote:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

~ ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:8-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Peter knew the consequences of sleeping when He should’ve been praying. After this account, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times. He never thought He would deny Jesus, but when the rubber met the road He wasn’t ready.

Being asleep isn’t just a literal problem. We do need sleep and rest. However, we can be slumbering in the sense that we do not possess any situational awareness of pending danger. The devil wants us to think that we are safe from temptation. He wants us to be over-confident and, rather than keep watch, sleep the slumber of the care-free. It’s much easier to attack and kill your prey while they are sleeping. It’s much harder when they are on guard and possibly even fleeing.

Are you sleeping?

The lion is at the door! Pray hard, pray often, pray to the one who can strengthen you for the fight or flight.

3 Words You Need Every Single Day

pile of books

Every single day we face some form of testing. Every day we are beset with a trial of some kind. Every day God is watching to see what we will do with the time we are given.

A couple days ago, I listened to a successful woman talk about how she built her business out of the trunk of her car while she was homeless. Today, she earns six to seven figures every year. While I didn’t agree with everything she said, there was one thing that was spot on—stop making excuses! People have been making excuses or blame-shifting since the beginning of time.

Here are a few examples of excuse-makers from the Bible:

Adam and Eve.

“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3.12-13)

Moses. 

“They will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.”

“Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (Exodus 4.1-17)

Jesus.

Hang on! Jesus didn’t make excuses!

Exactly. 

Even though He had plenty of times when He could have chosen to disobey or do something different, He did what He was supposed to do and never had to make excuses.

When Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness in Matthew 4, he was hungry. He’d fasted for 40 days in the middle of the desert. There was no Starbucks nearby, no McDonalds, and no market. When Satan tempts Jesus, He doesn’t start with the “worship Satan” bit; Satan strikes at Jesus’ immediate physical need. He attacks Him where He thinks He’ll be most vulnerable: “Command these stones to be turned into bread.”

After 40 days without a morsel of food, heaven-made bread sounds mighty tempting. Could Jesus have done it? Yes! Would this have please God? No! Did he have a good excuse to turn stones into bread? Well, surely if he was hungry… at least, that’s what we would think.

Jesus refused to make excuses. He obeyed God without wavering. 3 times Satan tempted Him and He didn’t budge. He wasn’t going to slip and then make some lame excuse to His Father.

How did Jesus resist temptation? You might say, “Well, He was the son of God, wasn’t He? He couldn’t be tempted at all.” He was the Son of God, but He was also in bodily form. He still hungered. He still thirsted. He was still subject to the same emotional and physical discomforts and yes, temptations. In spite of all these things, He resisted temptation with three words.

Are you ready to learn the 3 words that need to fill your mind, heart, soul and lips?

When you face trouble of any kind, say these three words in your mind:

IT IS WRITTEN

If you are tempted, say to yourself, “It is written” and then recall to your mind what God has said on the subject.

If you are tempted to stare overlong at that attractive-looking woman, the first three words to pop in your head should be: “It is written,” If you start looking at your friends and all their neat-o stuff and start wanting it for yourself, the first three words to pop into your head should be: “It is written.” If you find yourself burning with anger against a friend who has wronged you, don’t justify or excuse your feelings, say aloud or in your mind, “It is written.”

“Hang on, Elihu—you didn’t fill in the rest! I can’t walk around saying, ‘It is written’ because I don’t know what to fill in the blank!”

That sounds an awful lot like an excuse to me.

Why don’t you know what to fill in the blank? Because those 3 words aren’t driving you! You cannot bring every thought into captivity, you cannot fight temptation and you will not stand in time of testing if those 3 words don’t motivate you.

In Hosea 4, God says this through the prophet:

Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land;
There is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
They break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish…
Yet let no one contend,and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest…

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,I also will forget your children.

Hosea 4.1-6, ESV (click the link for the full context)

We, like the Israelites will be undone if we do not commit God’s Word to our heart every single day for the rest of our lives. We always think we have more time than we really do. I hear about people dying every day. Pixels and ink bring us the last vestiges of people who died in sudden crashes, earthquakes, cancer, heart attacks—all of whom thought they had more time.

We only have today. What are you going to do with your time?

It is written: 

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5.15-17, ESV

and

 

Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

Psalm 119.11, NASB

 

When you hear yourself make excuses about not having time to read, stop yourself mid-sentence, grab your Bible or your iPad or your iPhone and start reading. You don’t even need an app, just go to BibleGateway.com. It is urgent! The time to commit the Word to your heart is today, before the next temptation comes your way! Yes, we are covered by grace! Yes, things happen! But those should not be excuses for neglecting the most powerful tool in our arsenal against Satan.

Would you go to battle with no weapon?

What would Jesus do if He was living in your life, walking in your shoes? He’d make knowing God and meditating on His Word priority one. He’d meet temptation with the Word, ready to say, “I won’t do that because it is Written…” Jesus would pray for wisdom. He’d prepare to wage war against the devils schemes.

 

Today, as you prepare to face whatever challenges lay before you, repeat these three words, “It is written.” Take time on your drive to work or while you’re eating breakfast with your children to start putting the words of God into your mind so you will be ready when the time of testing begins.

Does anybody care?!

imageFor people like me who wage a daily war with depression, there is a phrase that pops up every so often, and we grow weary of saying it: “I’m depressed… Again.” It’s frustrating, upsetting, and draining. “Will this ever completely disappear? Surely people are sick of my black cloud… I know I am.”

You know you have to face the day again tomorrow. You know you’ll likely wonder why you bothered to get out of bed. You feel like nobody cares.

There is One who always cares. He already knows you’re hurting. He holds all your tears in a bottle. He watches the ongoing fight.

God cares. Jesus understands. The Holy Spirit strengthens.

You are not alone.

People will grow weary of your ups and downs, but God never will.

There is an old hymn we sometimes sing entitled “What a friend we have in Jesus.” Most people focus on the friendship bit, but I want to focus on an often overlooked part:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.

Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

Are you really carrying everything to God in prayer or do you come with a few requests and then carry the rest to your best friend from school? Don’t bring some of your requests to God, bring them ALL. Pour out the anguish of your soul. Confide your worries, fears, doubts and weaknesses. Carry everything to Him.

Every person that I have ever loved in my life has let me down. That is not a reflection on their quality as a friend, but rather a reflection on our mutual humanity. I am quite confident that I also have disappointed each and every one of them at some point or another. We are not God, we cannot be omni-present, and we are prone to weakness. I have begun to realize in the last year an important truth: Rejection, disappointment, and failure are the gateway to true dependence on the Lord. We aren’t going to lean heavily on a God we cannot see when we have friends and loved ones we can see. We go to them when we hurt (and that is only natural), but at some point they won’t be there because they can’t be everywhere at once. When all obvious supports fail, we clearly see the One Solid Rock that has supported us all along.

God never lets us down. Jesus understands what it’s like to be abandoned by friends. The Holy Spirit is ever near to comfort you.

You are not alone.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

~ ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭55:22‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Memorize this verse and repeat it beneath those dark clouds of sadness. Then do it. Pray. Cast that burden on the Lord. Do it again until you feel unburdened. If the weight comes back, cast it off again in prayer. Do it for the rest of your life. Pray ceaselessly. Pray for others carrying that weight. Give thanks to God when you find relief.

Are you walking through that lonely, cloud-covered valley today? Is the weight of life too heavy? Take it to the Lord in prayer. Every. Single. Day.

If you are suffering from depression, I recommend you read these posts:

The Overlooked Truth About Depression and Faith.

The Cure is Worse than the Disease! What do I do now?!

Feeling Overwhelmed?

May you find peace in the Lord today so you can press on to the goal!

No tests?

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The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.

~ Proverbs‬ ‭17:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My children have taught me a great deal about parenting. For instance: when I was a starry-eyed parent-to-be I said things like, “I’ll never yell at my children. I’ll never say, ‘because I said so.’ My child will never do that.”

Are you chuckling yet? I certainly am.

My children have been great instructors in humility. I have been tested repeatedly. Sometimes I fail. Being a parent has provided insight into how our Heavenly Father looks at us. To Him, we are like growing children—lovable, learning and fallible. He extends us grace when we fail and trains us that we might be better equipped for the challenges ahead.

About 6 weeks ago, my child had to write a short blurb for school about what she’d do if she were president. (I had no idea that she had socialist tendencies…)

I chuckled to myself when I read the line: “there would be no tests.” In many ways, I can’t blame her for hating tests—the schools make them take heaps more tests these days than I ever took at her age!

Testing is an excellent way of gauging comprehension and retention. As much as I hate giving and taking tests, they are necessary and not a “necessary evil.”

When God tests me, I don’t often recognize it as such. Mostly, I wonder why such-and-such is happening to me instead of looking at it as a growth opportunity. I ask “why”; I long for it to end; I wonder  what I did to deserve it. When I think this way, I am looking at the situation like my 8-year old: “if I were in charge…there wouldn’t be any tests!”

God, being the loving, omniscient Father that He is, longs for us to have luxurious spiritual blessings, not cheap dollar-store gifts. Becoming like Him and desiring the greater, more heavenly gifts requires testing—can we handle the gifts he wants to give us?

My 6-year old wants to have a jeep when she turns 16, so we have a 401-daddy plan: for every dollar she saves, we’ll match her dollar. She has to commit to putting a minimum of $2 per week into the fund if she wants to meet her goal within the next 10 years. You know what? She’s been doing it! She’s also found ways to earn extra money. Who do you think will be getting more advanced testing in money matters? This little one who already has an aptitude for it! Her older sister gets commission and it burns a hole in her pocket. Her tests are more basic—can you divide your money properly? Can you refrain from touching your gifts envelope when you want something? Can you keep yourself from dipping into your savings? Are you willing to work a little harder?My 6-year-old already tested out of that and is on to bigger things. It doesn’t make one child better than the other—they simply have different skill sets. It’s my job to hone those skills and improve the ones they struggle with.

In the same way, God tests and trains us. He does not tempt us—there’s a big difference. Satan tempts us so that we will fall deeper into his clutches. God tests us to lead us on to greater things.

People used to say this often: “Don’t pray for patience. God will make sure you get all the practice you need.” There is a certain degree of truth to that statement. I’ve prayed for patience and then 5 minutes later had to deal with behavior from my children that demanded “the patience of Job!”

God does not foist attitudes upon us; we have to learn them. When we request things like patience, contentment, or self-control, He will help us by providing opportunities to learn. If we work with God, we’ll learn faster. If we resist, we have to constantly be retested.

I’ll say it one more time: testing and tempting are not the same. Satan tempts with the intent to destroy. God tests with the intent to refine.

Are you taking a test right now? I’ve got some great news for you: God allows us to take open-book tests! If you don’t know what He expects from you, use His Word as a reference. If you aren’t sure of the answer, you can raise your hand in prayer.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

~ James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Feeling overwhelmed?

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Somewhere, right now, there is a young mother standing in her house, the fingertips of both hands pressed into her head in frustration. The house gets cleaned, only to be dirty within a few minutes. She sits down to rest only to be interrupted by another of her children. The sink is clogged, the repairman is calling, the bills need paying and dinner needs preparing.

Somewhere, right now, is a man sitting in a hard chair, head in hands, paralyzed by anxiety and grief. The list of honey-do’s at home and the never-ending stress of work has driven him into shut-down mode. He still carries the weight of the dead from his time in Iraq, and there are days it all seems like too much to handle.

Somewhere, right now, somebody you know is feeling overwhelmed.

It might even be you.

The account of Peter walking on the water toward Jesus (and his subsequent sinking/rescue) resonates with people. Waves and storms evoke a sense of overwhelming odds. Waves are powerful, crushing things that rise high above us, giving us the sense that we are insignificant and about to be overpowered. We all have days when the weight of everything is too heavy—our minds can’t focus, our heart rate increases, and we just wish we could hit “undo.”

How do you keep right on going when the weight of everything threatens to drown you?

Here are four tips for the overwhelmed and anxious:

Tip#1: Stop whatever you’re doing… and pray

“But I can’t stop! I have to keep going! I can’t just pause from what I’m doing! Catastrophe will ensue!”

You can stop, even if it’s just for a moment—take 10-30 seconds to pause and pray.

You don’t have to get on your knees or close your eyes. Just make an immediate appeal to God for help. Fix your mind’s eye on Him.

Here’s an example: “Lord, I feel overwhelmed. I know you are always near and said you’d be with me. You see what’s happening and you know how I feel. Have mercy on me and help me to keep going. I can do what needs to be done, but only with your help. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” (This only takes about 15-20 seconds!)

Still feeling overwhelmed? Keep pausing and praying until the day is over. Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you. That phrase is from His Word (Psalm 55:22) and it’s a promise! It doesn’t say He might sustain you, it says He will!

 

Tip #2: Reduce your intake of stimulants and sugars.

If you are having regular feelings of physical panic, it’s time to reevaluate your caffeine intake. Coffee is not inherently bad for you, but in many people (myself included) it causes heart palpitations and panic attacks. This can also include chocolate or black tea. Reduce or remove it. Some have found green tea to be a good substitute stimulant without the negative side affects of panic attacks, etcetera. If you use essential oils, put a drop of peppermint in your hand, rub both hands together, then bring them to your nose and breathe deeply. Peppermint gives clarity and stimulation. To relax, use lavender oil.

Sometimes, it’s just hard to focus. Reduce your intake of sugar and carbohydrates to lessen the 2 o’clock fog. A few simple dietary changes can make a big difference!

 

Tip #3: Make time for quiet.

We live in a loud world. Noise, distractions, and a constant flood of information are, in and of themselves, too much to process at times. Put down the phone, shut off the TV, turn off the music and do something quietly. Write down prayer requests, read a book, pray, or simply shut your eyes and process the events of the day. If you say, “I don’t have time,” you need to make time. Come up with 15 minutes in the morning, on your lunch break, or even before bed. It’s not impossible.

Here is another suggestion: When you get home from work, let the kids have a few minutes of play to themselves and allow yourself to decompress for as little as 10 minutes. Set a timer and tell the kids you’ll be out of your room when the timer goes off. Everyone needs to reset, refresh, and regroup. It’s good to train your kids to have “quiet time” as well. Admittedly, your kids may interrupt you with some catastrophe or other. Start with just a few minutes at a time and work your way up to 10 or 15 minutes. Over time and consistent practice, you will all fall into a healthy routine.

One last suggestion: make time to walk for a minimum of 20 minutes outside (weather permitting). There is something reviving about the fresh air and the solitude.

 

Tip #4: “Do the next thing.”

Writer and speaker Elisabeth Elliot emphasized this idea throughout her work. She derived this saying from an old Saxon poem:

Do it immediately; Do it with prayer;

Do it reliantly, casting all care;

Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand,

Who placed it before thee with earnest command.

Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,

Leave all resultings, DO THE NEXT THING.

This concept has helped me plow my way through some tough times. If your to-do list is a mile long and you feel like shutting down, ignore the list for a moment a focus on the next immediate task. Do the dishes need washing? Begin! Is your email inbox full? Reply to the first email. Take a few minutes to order your list and then start at the top. Instead of focusing on the mountain, fix your eyes on the first steps…

…And then the next foothold…

…and then the next handhold…

…then the next task, the next job, the next thing. Step, by step, by step.

Don’t concentrate on the list, concentrate on that first customer inquiry. Don’t think about all the demands, just change that diaper. You may only accomplish a few tasks, but you will have accomplished something in your day. With the Lord’s help, we can overcome our mountain of demands.


 

Are you feeling overwhelmed today? God is near and wants to help you. Leaning on Him is like resting against a great rock—peaceful, secure and steady.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;

My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

The pangs of death surrounded me,

And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.

The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;

The snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.

Psalm‬ ‭18:2-6‬ , 16 NKJV‬‬