Friday, February 10, 2017

I texted a friend today, asking how she was doing. She replied, "Overwhelmed with life, but overall we're doing pretty good."

Overwhelmed with life. Doesn't that describe how so many of us feel, so much of the time? I can certainly identify with that right now. In the last six days, I have attended two funerals (one of which I officiated), had a sick wife, a vehicle breakdown, which will incur significant expense to repair, and concern for two sick grandchildren. That on top of the regular everyday tasks of preaching, counseling and leading the church.

In an article on PsychCentral.com, Margarita Tartakovsky writes, "Overwhelm is a 20-foot wave crashing into you. Repeatedly."

That sure captures the feeling of being buried beneath a mass of responsibilities that overpowers our thoughts and emotions. In this era of 24/7 information overload, there tend to be very few spaces in which to unwind, refresh and be restored.

An online search for answers to the dilemma of constantly being overwhelmed yields several articles with titles such as, "What to Do When You Are Overwhelmed" (Oprah.com); "Overwhelmed? These 6 Strategies May Help" (PsychCentral.com); and "7 Things To Do If You're Feeling Overwhelmed" (Forbes.com).

Common themes run throughout most of these articles: learn to delegate, take a walk, breathe deeply, practice saying "no," do only one thing at a time. All of these strategies have at least some potential to alleviate the paralysis of being overwhelmed with life. But let me suggest that there is an even better strategy.

Mike Weaver and Phil Wickham captured the strategy in the lyrics of the song "Overwhelmed" sung by the contemporary Christian band Big Daddy Weave.

"I see the work of your hands. Galaxies spinning, a heavenly dance. Oh God, all that you are is so overwhelming.

"And I hear the sound of your voice. All at once it's a gentle and thundering noise. Oh God, all that you are is so overwhelming.

"I know the power of your cross. Forgiven and free, forever you'll be my God. And all that you've done is so overwhelming.

"I delight myself in you, captivated by your beauty. I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed by you.

"And God, I run into your arms, unashamed because of mercy. I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed by you."

Being positively overwhelmed by the grace and magnificence of God is the antidote to the negatively overwhelming stresses of life.

When the burdens of my life seem huge, I remember that the creator of galaxies is far bigger. And he's my Father.

When the chaotic noises of life clamor for my attention, his powerful voice is gently calling my name. And he's my Father.

And when the guilt and shame of my sin collaborate to cripple me, his forgiving grace frees me.

When I am overwhelmed with life, I choose to delight myself in being a child of my heavenly Father. I become captivated by his beautiful, wonderful, glorious presence. And, sometimes, when I've made a mess of things and don't know what to do, when I'm overwhelmed, I run into his arms to receive his mercy. I can do that because he's my Father.

Oh God, all that you are and all that you've done...so overwhelming!

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