It’s amazing how often this has happened in my life, that when things go wrong, they all go wrong at the same time. Or when demands and pressures come, it all seems to happen at the same time. Life just doesn’t dish out problems and difficulties evenly so that we can cope better. There’s no regularity or predictability when it comes to the storms of life. It isn’t something you can schedule into your calendars. While in the midst of one of those intense periods, here are some thoughts that I gathered:
1. Let your comfort zones be challenged
Humans all have a tendency to drift into a place of greatest comfort. Whether it’s when we’re wriggling into our little nook on our favourite sofa or finding that place of maximum efficiency at our work place; we all seek out a place of comfort. It’s a place where we’re in control and we know how to handle the situations at hand. It’s a place of ease, a place of minimum effort and maximum return.
Unfortunately, that’s also the place of greatest atrophy. Progression is not found where we’re doing what we’ve become proficient in doing. Instead it’s in the place of resistance and struggle that health and growth finds its most conducive environment. These conditions are highly uncomfortable, difficult and places a necessary pressure to push us towards struggle. Yet this is not a futile struggle. Instead it’s a struggle to exceed our present limitations. It helps us rise higher to see at a plane we could not previously behold. It brings us to a deeper and richer experience of the life that God has blessed us with. That’s why there are some who can fascinate over a beautiful sunset, while others walk by not noticing nor pausing.
God sends these challenges along our lives in concentrated form, because He knows the travesty of being stuck in our comfort zones, satisfied with our limited experiences, when He has so much more in store for us. It requires a willing choice to embrace the seasons of intensity in our lives and to realise the potency of what God has packed inside of them to propel us forward.
2. Master your emotions
Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Most times, emotions are flippant, circumstantial and they exaggerate. They magnify the problems and send our minds on a wild goose chase, and if not, on a witch hunt. Time to rein them in and master them. I’ve discovered that when you face down a problem and confront it, it’s never quite a bad as what your emotions made them out to be. In fact, problems often dissolve very quickly when we’re willing to act on them instead of just thinking about them.
I once heard that the reason why the military makes such a big deal about soldiers making their beds, is because it sets before the soldiers a simple task that they can complete first thing in the morning. Every task completed is an impetus to take the next step to completing the next task and that’s how a complex mission can be executed – one task at a time. I think that the reverse is equally true – that every task that remains in the inbox of our minds compounds the issues and adds to the anxiety that builds up in us.
Trust the Word of God to have a say in this, “Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known to God.”
3. Keep your Sabbath
As I had mentioned earlier, the storms of life cannot be scheduled. Their schedule is out of our control and their timings cannot be predicted. Yet with regard to time, there’s something predictable and scheduled that God has given to us, and that’s the Sabbath. It’s routine. It’s scheduled. It’s cyclical. It’s God’s way of placing order in an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable life. It stands immovable and regular, and it requires something of us to obey it in order that our lives may line up with God’s ways of seeing time.
I think the Sabbath is the hardest to obey of the 10 Commandments, simply because we see the other nine as commandments and this one as a suggestion. I think of all the Commandments, Christians break this one the most. Yet it’s a call for us to abandon our attempts to bring order into our own lives in order to embrace God’s divine order through the governing of our time. The primary call on the day of Sabbath is to STOP. It’s to cease and to pause for a full day. To me, it’s to take a deep, deep breath.
Time governs reality just as space does. All our experiences are confined within time and space. The Sabbath is God’s invasion of our reality in the realm of time. Our reality can be dictated by our circumstances, or we can keep His Sabbath and allow Him to dictate our reality. May we all learn to stand in times of difficulties and intense pressure.