Stack Overflow Stress
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of His purpose, He guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. ~ from The Encourager, writing in Hebrews 6
Oh beloved, it is true, there are days that test us; and their are days which overwhelm. Even when the engines of our body and soul are running fairly well, we can quickly find ourselves in way over our heads. There are just too many inputs.
And no, this fool of a writer is not talking about the first-world problems of our pumpkin-spiced lattes not having enough whip cream, and getting a flat tire on the way to work. Oh yes, there are stressors which are real in the modern world, but the context of this entry (hopefully) takes us beyond some sort of navel-gazing about how we don’t like the flavor of the food which was delivered to our front door – all while we laid around waiting for it to arrive.
There is great privilege in living in the developing world. One can quickly gain perspective on the reality that life is hard and fleeting in this plane. Rats and congestion and corruption and smell and smoke and sewage and trash and traffic and death abound in this place….
The Asian megacity i inhabit packs some 20-million souls into an area one fourth the size of the 20-million population NYC metro area. To say that it is dense here would be correct. Traffic alone is so crazy that about 10 of the precious souls in my town die in traffic here every day.
From there, the situation only gets more clearly crazy.
The economy is fragile, and government services basically do not exist. The tiny little police station near my apartment did have a squad car, but I have never seen it driven. And it had a flat tire for nearly four months one time. If one has an emergency here, one is pretty much on their own.
The business environment mirrors the chaos of the barely-existing infrastructure. Everything is ad hoc. There seems to be nearly no strategic planning. Everything truly feels like “ready-fire-aim” is the way things get done. And contracts are but gateways to hyper-flexible negotiations.
Add to the above, the reality that over 10s of thousands of minarets screech the voices imams chanting in a language they don’t really understand, calling out to a god they really can’t ever know. The flow of religion here is just as chaotic and disjointed as the rest of this place.
This writer rides a small motorcycle to the international school where i teach. And the ride is, literally, a lesson in crash avoidance. Everything is on high-alert while one goes down the narrow roads choked with hand-drawn trash carts, vendors, bicycles, pedestrians, motorcycles (LOTS of them), cars, buses and trucks.
Beyond just the environment, there is a dull, chaotic sadness to this entire place. Millions have come to this city trying to make the money they need to send it back to families in the villages. And the blunt crushing of high-flying dreams bleeds off the countenance of millions just trying to keep everything together, while they make their way alone in the second largest metro area on the planet.
All of this adds a context to the day of a “normal” teacher like myself. Then however, i walk into a veritable small sea of students wherein 356 of the attendees at my school are my students. My day is wall-to-wall kids. Waves of them pass through my classroom where i try (fool that i am) to share a picture of what it is like to develop a worldview in light of the enormous Light provided by His Word and The Person of Jesus.
Now then, add in a rambunctious 6 year-old son, and wonderful, but slightly challenging marriage, a potential move to a another new country, situations with other children, aging parents, financial obligations in 3 countries, and a day full of psychological testing for the new job we are pursuing…
Can you say: out of body experience?
Days can be rough. And it is not a competition. Each of us has a limit. It is just that we really need to know what we are going to do when we reach that limit. How are we going to respond? Are we going to allow the screamingly tired flesh to have its way? Or, are we going to allow the unchanging promises of the unchanging G_d we are coming to know – to have His way with us through the day?
Can we see it? There is no sliding scale. It is either that we are going to stand in His strength, or we are going to be washed away by the waves of days like this. There will be no grade. It is pass/fail. And it is for days like this, that the Gospel is exceedingly good news.
So, have you been overwhelmed lately by the stresses of your days? Good. These are the best of times for you and i. Tonight is your night beloved. Time to let Him be exactly who He is: The anchor for your (and this writer’s) soul. Just keep your eyes on Him. It is worth the ride. We are almost Home.
Think About This: Think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven! Of taking hold of a hand and finding it God’s! Of breathing a new air and finding it celestial air! Of feeling invigorated and finding it immortality! Of passing from storm and stress to a perfect calm! Of waking and finding it home! This world is the land of the dying; the next is the land of the living. ~Tryon Edwards (1809-1894)
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. Proverbs 11:3