Hello, dear friends. Ian from a very chilly Sydney. I’m hoping those of you in the northern hemisphere are having lovely vacation time in warmer climes.
We just finished a marvellous series from Ann on slaying giants. I was particularly grabbed by Ann’s idea of taking hold of 5 stones (like teenage David) as a weapon against our giants. In my comment to that post I mentioned my 5 stones. I wanted to explore one of them a little further in this post.
Stress and anxiety
For several years now I’ve been a significant carer for my elderly parents. They’ve both recently spent some time in hospital and delightfully were housed a few rooms away from each other. Mom is now home, and Dad is being discharged as you read this post. I’m continually surprised how draining it is. Managing the hospital staff, my siblings while acting as the go between for my parents and the staff.
And so I get quite stressed and anxious. About fixing things and getting everything sorted. Because that’s what I do. I get things done.
But God has a different approach. And He doesn’t want us to burden ourselves.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
For a while now the Lord has placed these words on my heart. As some of you will know I’m prone to anxiety and much of mine is self-induced and I’ve been asking the Lord to show me how to ‘take his easy yoke’ and let go of my need to fix everything or get it done while raising my anxiety levels.
I’m still very much on training wheels but here’s a few points that I’ve learnt about accepting/receiving the Lord’s easy yoke:
1. Be still and know that I am God
Stillness. I’m increasingly discovering how important this is. But it’s hard isn’t. When I have a racing heart, sometimes to slow down and stop is difficult. I must fight the urge to get up. Using meditations help me do this by regulating my breathing (slowing it down) and listening to particular worship songs, generally ones that have only a few words.
And then I wait and listen. ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come’ I repeat quietly and then I wait some more. And go off in my mind to a lovely spot and find Jesus where we sit down together and often just do that. Sit. Jesus might put his hand on my shoulder and we watch a beautiful sunrise or similar.
Sometimes I receive reassuring words. Often, not.
And then I hand off my struggles. Solving Dad’s catheter bag issue, frustrations at my brother for not doing something, worrying mom will be sick again today. These three matters were top of mind this morning for me.
I send them down the stream that Jesus and I sit beside. Or I hand them to him.
And let go of them.
This last point is vital. We gotta let go. That doesn’t mean we do nothing. Absolutely not. We still make the phone call to the nurse to organise the bags, etc, etc. But we let go of the outcome and the stress related to getting that outcome.
I only read this yesterday: “Living a life of faith often requires us to leave things alone.” (A.B. Simpson) God can sure do a better job than we can.
And then I receive peace. Just like Paul says in this very popular passage on anxiety and peace.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Yes, it may be a day full of stress because something doesn’t work out with getting Dad discharged. But God knows. And His easy yoke is there for me to grab a hold of tomorrow. And the next day and on.
What’s one way that helps you take the ‘easy yoke’? Be lovely if we could build up our own little collection of helpful practices that will encourage all of us.
Grace and peace.