First off, I’m not sure overwhelmed-ness is a real word but I am rolling with it.
Like most people I go through seasons where everything is going smoothly; work (auditing) isn’t too hectic, ministry is clicking on all cylinders (for lack of a better phrase), relationships aren’t too dysfunctional and I am tiptoeing through the tulips. Then there are times when I wonder why my employers even hired me? Why would God call me to Pastor? Why would these people let me Pastor them? Who decided down is up and up is down and left me out of the loop? Why aren’t there more hours in the day? Why is my metabolism working at a snail’s pace? Why is everyone enjoying relationships except me? Why am I so overwhelmed?
As of today, I’m not sure if I am going into the latter season or coming out of it, but I sense something. I may even be right in the middle of that season; in fact, I know I am. I am overwhelmed. Yes, I just full on processed my feelings in the middle of writing this.
So yesterday I drove from San Diego to La Mirada and back to San Diego in a matter of six hours for two of my jobs. I know that sounds crazy, but this is my life. I’ve done it plenty of times, but yesterday the thought of it made me feel anxious, slightly depressed and angry. I wasn’t so much upset at the fact that I have multiple jobs, but simply because it was just bad timing. There is so much going on – on one hand, and not so much on the other hand, but I’m still required to do both. Yesterday, however, it really got to me and in my massive amounts of alone time in the car, I was reminded of one of my favorite passages:
“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations. He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him. So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.” (Psalms 61:1-8 KJV)
For the sake of this post and for the rest of this post I want to draw attention to the first four verses which end at “Selah”.
This is a Psalm of David that focuses on having and finding security in God (as noted by the heading in the HCSB translation). My aim is not to fully exegete this text, but to share how it ministered to me yesterday. As I read it multiple times and read multiple translations I kept being drawn to the word “when” in verse two. I’m not so sure that David’s heart was overwhelmed or weary or faint (words used in the different translations) at the time he wrote this. I honestly believe that he was stating a fact that there were times in his life when that was his reality and when it was, he wanted to be pointed or led to or directed to the One that he could lean on. Yes, David knew and understood that sometimes life can happen in such a way that it causes one’s heart to become weary, faint, overwhelmed or just plain weak.
It happens. It is natural. This is mankind’s plight.
In a fallen, broken world, everything is not going to go smoothly all the time. Everything is not going to go as planned all the time. There are going to be times when we are rendered powerless and confronted with our finite-ness, and that is ok.
I realized yesterday that I was beating myself up because I allowed myself to become overwhelmed as if being overwhelmed is a bad thing, or, as if I have total control over my life. Pride is so deceitful. Often times when I am overwhelmed by either throw on my superman cape and try to do everything on my own, or I become paralyzed and do nothing until the storm blows over. Both of which are terrible responses because in each case I end up handling things my way, in my strength, using my logic. Instead of being proactive like David, often times I finally turn to God when I am burned out and/or the poop has hit the fan. That’s not a good way to live and that is not the life God wants for me.
So today, I am embracing the possibility and the reality of being overwhelmed. Instead of waiting until the last-minute I am praying that in this moment and in those moments, God would continue to draw me to Himself and that He would give me the courage to rely on Him, the One, the Rock who is higher than I.
I can do this because I know from past experience, as did David, that He always delivers. He always shelters. In Him there is security. He never fails.
Leaning on Him,
Ps. I absolutely believe we can be overwhelmed by things that are foolish and unhealthy. This post does not speak to those things although I do firmly believe that even in those situations God invites us to Himself.