Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Exchanging burdens for perfect peace

Jeremiah 33:2-3 (MSG) This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’

It is so easy for me to get wrapped up in the day-to-day stuff going on around me.  Some days I feel like I’m in the washing machine going through spin cycle after spin cycle…out of control. Have you ever felt like that?  Back in April 2013, I had a week like that. I was heading out on Friday for a retreat about 2 hours away from my home and had to get a special work project done before I left. By Thursday at 6:30 pm, the project was only 50% complete. I knew I had to work a little longer that night to give myself time to finish everything up on Friday. At the time I worked from home so it was easy for me to continue working after dinner or when everyone else has gone to bed.

That night, I went back to my office and continued to work. Needless to say, I saw the circumstance as something so unachievable. I didn’t even pray and ask Jesus for help.  I just went about my business on my own.  WHY DO I DO THIS?  Every time I try to do things on my own, I get anxious…stressed…doubtful. I had given Satan a chance to come in and start whispering “You’re never going to get this done. You should just give up. Tell them you can’t do it…the task is too impossible.”

Satan wants to come into our lives and “steal, kill and destroy” everything (John 10:10).

Friday morning, the anxiety continued to grow. I had no time to even spend a few minutes with Jesus (mistake number one) so Satan continued to spew his lies. The anxious pain in my chest was intensifying. I pushed back in my chair away from my work several time to take a deep breath….but did I call on Jesus? Did I take a few minutes to refocus by reading a verse or two or listening to Praise and Worship music? NOPE…sure didn’t.

I was completely empty…and because of this, I had a self-defeating conversation “How are you going to pray for people this weekend when you can’t even pray for yourself?”

There I said it. “I have nothing to give.”

By 4 pm the knock at the door told me my ride had arrived. “Yikes! I need to get everything submitted.” Finishing my very last read through, I took a deep breath and sent the document on its way. For the next hour and a half I worried about the document and how it would be received by my boss.

We arrived at the retreat training 10 minutes late. We found our seats and I tried to listen to the facilitator. I was still empty and my heart was still racing in my chest. Again a defeatist conversation was going on in my head. “See here you are and you’re still now in any position to pray for anyone. Why did you even bother getting in the car?” Taking a series of deep breaths, I tried to focus. Nothing was working – my mind was in 100 different directions.

Have you ever been at this place where you need to focus on something but your mind is all jumbled? For me that weekend, I was beating myself up because my sole purpose for being there was to pray for other people. But God had a lesson in store for me.

During our prayer time that night, I finally asked Jesus for help. “Forgive me Father. I haven’t given you this burden I’ve been carrying this week. It’s been so hard for me to focus. I am sorry I didn’t ask you for help. I can’t do one thing without you. Please fill me Lord with you so I can serve you this weekend.”

Instantly, I felt peace. I felt free with not a care in the world except that of compassion for the people I’d be praying for the next day.

God never ceases to amaze me. He’s right there waiting for us to cry out to Him in our darkest hour. He wants to give us His peace in exchange for our heavy burdens. That night was a huge turning point for me. In just that one moment of prayer I recognized when I’m stressed or anxious about anything if I stop and pray and ask God to take it all away He is so faithful to take my stress and give me his perfect peace. I know that in my head…sometimes it just takes a while to get to my heart.

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