The farther away I get from the semester and life in Cape Town, the more I realize about myself…good things and bad things. The most obvious thing is that stress, which has always been an issue for me, has sky rocketed to a point that NASA can’t get to. It is probably the reason why I’ve been on and off antibiotics and antivirals for five months, and the reason for several other things. The worst part of stress is the implication: that my trust in God, in His perfection, in His love for me, and in His plan for my life has dwindled. Along with stress come feelings of inadequacy and guilt. As I said, these things are not new to me, but they have been brightly highlighted and magnified by the transitions and changes of the last year.
God never says life is easy; if anything, he says the total opposite. Especially when we give our lives to him, they will be filled with tests, persecution, and the kind of growth that can only be brought about in trials. But he also says that his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:30). In other words, life is hard, but he never gives us more to handle than he gives us strength to handle it (Philippians 4:13) and he never leaves us to our own devices. It is we who leave him when the going gets tough, and then we leave not only our father and king, but our source of strength and light and refreshment and comfort.
Growth comes when we are open to the Holy Spirit in our lives and absolutely abandoned, surrendered, to Christ. We are dead and he is alive in us, and we are made new creations, alive because of his Spirit in us. The problem is, we keep going back to our “old selves,” and as Proverbs 26:11 puts rather graphically but very accurately, like a dog going back to its own vomit. After Christ has freed me from sin and death, why do I keep trying to take things into my own hands and stressing so much that I become physically sick? This is most definitely not an easy yoke or a light burden, and it is absolutely not from God. The last straw, and a serious eye opener, was when someone I barely know responded to a typical email saying “no need to stress.” If someone I don’t even know can pick up over cyberspace that I’m stressed, and when it’s so normal to me that I thought it was an unnecessary comment until I re-read the email I sent, I have a problem.
And yet when I think of God, I think of the sound of water or wind through the trees, and peaceful summer afternoons, and calm oceans and towering, immovable mountains. According to what I know of him and have experienced from him, I associate God with the words peace (like I said in my previous post), love, mercy. If we trust in him, we will be able to obey his command (yes, COMMAND) that we shouldn’t worry (Matthew 6:25), because we will know that all we have comes from him. In the next few weeks this will be my daily bread; being reminded that yes, he wants us to work hard and do our best and yes, I want to please him, but that HE and he alone is my strength and my salvation, and my comfort and the breath in my body.