In the past 6 months, I started a new job, my husband started a new job, I wrecked and replaced my car, my oldest child completed his first year of school (and he’s about to repeat it), we’ve spent nearly $2000 in unexpected vehicle repairs, and we found out we’re expecting our third child. We work full time and do our best to keep our kids involved, have family time, be in fellowship with other believers at weekly church service, pay our bills on time, keep food in our fridge and pantry, laundry clean, and house livable.
We. Are. Overwhelmed.
Aside from all the significant life events and changes (and there are more, I just didn’t want to bore anyone), nothing about the day-to-day stresses and obligations differ from anyone else I know. Your job might be full-time parent, caring for an ill or aging family member, or volunteering. You may not have children, or they may be grown. But we are all capable and guilty of falling into the pace of life and getting sucked into the mainstream current, where we end up overwhelmed and questioning our worth and the value of what we contribute.
There’s nothing inherently bad about a full life. There’s nothing bad or wrong about the things I listed. If anything, it’s a measure of a very blessed life! God’s timing was perfect in bringing us to new employment, our oldest gained a valuable education that laid a necessary foundation for year two, we are blessed and fortunate that we can afford those vehicle repairs, and we are overjoyed for our growing family!
The problem of this full-to-bursting life is when we stop measuring our worth in God’s eyes, and start valuing our contribution to the chaos. When our self-worth is based on how packed our schedules are, and how skilled we are at orchestrating the hectic day-to-day lives of our families, cook a photo-worthy dinner, create Pinterest-worthy snacks, and keep a kitchen Joanna Gaines would oooh and aaah over - when those become the barometer of our success, we are perilously at risk of crashing and burning. The chaos comes crashing down around us in an instant, all because we left the house 5 minutes later. There’s a chain reaction that’s triggered the moment our tightly-managed schedule veered even remotely off course. In that moment, we realize just how overwhelmed we are, how tightly wound, and how close we stand to the edge of a chasm that would swallow us whole if we lose focus.
When Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days, some pretty crazy things happened. First of all, he was led by the Spirit. That’s right, the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness so the devil could mess with him while he fasted, alone. Even still, he did some important things here.
First of all, he left behind the distraction and crowds at the Jordan, and went where the Spirit led him. There’s no schedule but nature in the woods. Wake when it’s day, sleep when it’s night, eat when you’re hungry (however, Jesus was fasting). There were no people hounding him with questions, no appointments to keep.
He also fasted. He made a conscious decision to do something to grow closer and more dependent on God. He fasted and was obedient to God.
He knew God’s word so well, he could rebuke the devil in an instant. Of course, being the Son of God was immensely helpful, but we are not without access to the very same words and wisdom of God.
“Man cannot live on bread alone.”
These words… God didn’t create us to subsist in this chaos. We are not defined by how many activities our children are involved, how well we can cook for 10, the organization of our home, or how well we follow online tutorials. We are not meant to measure ourselves against these worldly standards, and we certainly can’t thrive in a constant state of being overwhelmed.
God is meant to overwhelm. He is meant to overwhelm us with awe, with His goodness, with His mercy, abundance, unconditional love and peace. Jesus’ sacrifice is meant to overwhelm us--what he endured before and during his time on the cross, the only-with-God possible resurrection. The Holy Spirit is meant to overwhelm us with power, with a supernatural ability.
Sometimes we need to walk away from the distraction and trust that God is going to face down the devil when we quiet the chaos and focus on Him. His desire is not that we live an overwhelmed life, but that we live life in the overwhelming presence of God.