breaking the stress barrier…

This past Sunday I preached on ‘glorying in our tribulations’.  Starting on Monday, it’s been lab work on the same subject.  The convergence zone of too many obligations, with some fresh new challenges tossed in, and obligations ‘out’ every night, conspired with some weighty and important decisions that need to be made.  Toss in a shortage of sleep (from too much too do, too much thinking, and not enough exercise), and the whole mixture becomes a sort of toxic ‘stress soup’.  Do you know of it?  Have you tasted it?

I’ve good news.  Sometimes it’s the very toxicity that motivates us to seek the remedy, which is Christ’s strength, peace, truth, and wisdom.  Yes, I know we say we’re dependent on Christ all the time, but the truth of it is that many of us have plenty of ‘self-sufficiency’ because it’s built into our genetic make-up to live on our own, without help.  As a result we fall into the trap of believing that with enough self-discipline, sleep, vitamins, schedule management, and leadership techniques, we can cope with life well.  Maybe we can, maybe not, but we’ll never be fruitful because Jesus said ‘apart from me you can do nothing.’

Thank God for those weeks when there’s an avalanche of stress, so much so that all the technique and management skills in the world won’t enable us to live well.  Thank God for the weeks when we feel ourselves sinking under the massive weight of responsibility, decisions, challenges, and obligations.  Thank God.  Those are the weeks when we’re brought to our knees, which is where we should have been all along, except we were too busy living with our illusions of competence and control.

“The Control Barrier” is what I call it, and the only way to break through it, like the sound barrier, is to be overwhelmed.  When I am existentially overwhelmed, I stop, breath, pray, turn to silence and the ancient paths of the saints, finding once again the peace in the midst of the storm, a peace which really is beyond understanding because nothings changed except my awareness that ‘all manner of things shall be well’.  And that’s enough.

Have you been silent lately?  Heard the birds?  Prayed for the peace of Christ to fill you?  If not, maybe it’s because life’s not hard enough yet.  Don’t worry… your day will come.  When it does, ‘rejoice’!  Peace is just around the corner for all who turn to Him.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • SK

    Thank you. Was feeling totally overwhelmed. Just went out and watched the seagulls in Pioneer Square and prayed– so I took your suggestion literally!


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