I have a confession.
Sometimes I allow the busyness of life to creep up on me.
If I am not careful, I get so focused on the cares and worries of the world, my job, ministry stress, etc. – that I end up filled with anxiety instead of the peace of God.
This was the place I found myself in on July 4, 2018.
I was consumed with worry over ministry stress and let my worry take precedence over my faith. Am I the only one guilty of this?
I sat at my kitchen nook table on the morning of July 4th and I could feel tightness in my chest as I mentally ran down a list of everything I needed to get done “yesterday…”
I realized that for the past week, my Bible reading and prayer life had been feeling more like part of a routine than a life-giving relationship with a real, living God who is alive and right by my side at all times! I was so full of anxiety that I didn’t even know where to begin “undoing” this “feeling.”
Suddenly, God downloaded His Word into my heart like a shot of adrenaline. “When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul!”
WHAT??!! Where is the scripture? I KNOW I’ve read it before!
I grabbed my Bible, flipping through the Psalms, but could not find it.
I grabbed my phone and Googled it – bam! Psalm 94:19
As I read the different versions of this scripture I could literally feel HOPE begin to flood my heart…
KJV: “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comfort delights my soul”
AMP: “In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!”
CEB: “When my anxieties multiply, your comforting calms me down”
ERV: “I was very worried and upset, but You comforted me and made me happy!”
Somebody shout with me….THAT’S MY GOD! OH YES! THAT’S MY JESUS! He LOVES me! He comforts me! He delights in me! He sees! He cares! He knows! He is ever present! And the Word of God hidden in my heart is coming alive in me right at this moment as I need it! Praise God!
So I felt comforted . . . but yet still had an incredibly busy agenda….at least in MY mind I did.
How many of you know that God’s ways are not like ours and many times He has plans different than ours?
I hopped in my pretty red truck and headed to my church office to try to get a large chunk of work done. As soon as I reached my turn onto County Road 218 in Middleburg, I saw police cars with lights on.
The street was completely blocked off. I couldn’t get to the church unless I found another way to go.
Curious, I pulled into the Walgreens parking lot. I saw people lined up and sitting on the curb. I thought to myself, either there has been a bad accident or something unusual is going on this morning. I got out of my truck and asked a nice lady what was happening. She told me it was the 4th of July Independence Day Parade!
I had two choices. I could get back in my truck and drive around, frantically trying to figure out a way to circumvent the parade and make it to church. Or…I could slow down….and realize that God was doing something and He wanted me to listen to His still small voice “in that moment.”
I chose option 2.
My worries melted away and I felt my face light up with the excitement of a small child as I caught a glimpse of the floats in the distance.
Suddenly my smile was ear-to-ear. I grabbed my cell phone and started snapping pictures! People were waving at me and smiling back. The people on the floats would stop and pose so I could take their picture!
I had on my church t-shirt that said “VOLUNTEER” on the back of it so people thought I must be in charge and they were asking me where to sit and where to turn their float around. So, in true leadership form, I TOLD them where to go and what to do! LOL!
Before I knew it, I was having a blast! I was totally delighted in my inner being! This was FUN! And had I not chose to slow down and let God comfort me and delight my soul with an Independence Day Parade – I’d still be stressed out.
I know, I know….you’re thinking…”Julie, that parade was happening anyway. You just happened to run into it.”
But God knew! He knew I needed to slow down and realize that there is more to life than my seemingly insurmountable momentary troubles. And slow me down He did!
It reminded me of another time God slowed me down. The year was 2001. I had been strung out and addicted to methamphetamine for 17 years…I was a pathetic mess. In that state of hopelessness and desperation, I had cried out to God from the pit of my darkness – and ended up in federal prison the very next day! THAT slowed me down alright! 🙂 Enough to get clean and sober and surrender my heart to Jesus!
God has a way of slowing us down right when we need it the most! When anxiety is great within us, His comfort and delight brings joy to our soul and makes us happy.
We just have to be willing to slow down and pay attention to our Father! That morning, God wanted me to slow down and breathe! He wanted me to relax. He wanted me to connect with wonderful people and shine with His love as I took the time to speak to many of them. He wanted to remind me that life and ministry are not about the busy-work so much as relationships and people. He wanted to remind me that life will always go at a fast pace in this world and I must remember to make it a conscious CHOICE to slow down and smell the flowers – or watch a parade!
What are you facing in your life right now? Are you feeling anxious? Depressed? Desperate? Overworked? Frightened? Overwhelmed?
God not only HAS your answer – He IS your answer! Slow down and listen. Pay attention. He is speaking to you…whispering…who knows….
…..maybe He has a parade for you, too!