Do you ever feel overwhelmed?
We had that feeling last week. Our eldest son Michael was married to his fiancee Samantha on Saturday afternoon in our back yard. As the week progressed, our house filled up with people. Children and grandchildren appeared from every direction. Fridges and freezer were stuffed with wedding food. A marquee was erected. A stack of chairs materialized. Odd jobs put off for months were finished off in rapid order. And to top it all, the weather network decreed a sudden end to our three-month drought, predicting heavy rain, high winds and thunderstorms just in time for the outdoor ceremony.
And in the meantime, all the other challenges and circumstances of life and work continued. People did not stop have crises or needing help.
We were stretched, but in this case only by what I call the volume of circumstances.
What happens when it’s not just the volume, but the nature of the circumstances that becomes overwhelming? What happens when you’re not just physically exhausted, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually worn out?
I have found there are two possible options. One is to try to control everything myself. That means doing everything I can to change the circumstances around me. My end goal is self-protection. I want all the nasty things to go away and leave me in peace.
There’s only one problem with this. God’s end goal is not to protect me from everything that stresses me out. His goal is to draw me into a deeper dependency on himself. It won’t take you long to figure out how those two goals could easily be at cross-purposes.
So the smart thing to do is to take the second option. That is to throw myself on the mercy of God and ask him to keep me in the midst of whatever it is he is doing in me. In the end, it will work out far better for me to let God’s purposes take their course.
This is why Psalm 55:22 has always meant so much to me: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
To cast your burden on the Lord means this: give the control over to him. Stop trying to interfere, manipulate and self-protect. It never works, and will only wear you out.
Your act of faith in casting your burden forms the bridge to his promise: “He will never permit the righteous to be moved.” To go over that bridge can seem like the scariest thing you’ve ever done. It’s that moment when fear and darkness will do their best to paralyze you and keep you back.
It is at that instant that an unshakeable belief in the sovereignty of God is so critical. That conviction involves two things: an assurance that God is all-loving and the knowledge that he is all-powerful.
Faith is neither intellectual certainty nor emotional serenity. Faith is a gift, a conviction that we are to step out in obedience, born at the place where God’s Spirit encounters our spirit. It stares down all that opposes the will of God. In utter human weakness it reaches out for divine strength, and in that strength it conquers. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith” (1 John 5:4).
If you have that faith, it will come up under your feet like a solid rock. It will enable you to run boldly across that bridge. You can be sure of one thing: Jesus is standing on the other side to welcome you.
And what about our wedding? For twelve hours it had rained and rained, and at 1 pm, the appointed hour, it was still raining. But God’s timing is perfect. The bride was 25 minutes late. At the very moment she stepped out of the car in our driveway, the rain stopped. And it stayed dry all day. To the south of us, storms, winds, torrential rains and even a tornado raged all afternoon and evening across large parts of the province. But in our back yard, we had a great wedding, meteorological serenity, and a wonderful start to what we trust will be a great marriage.
Thanks be to God.