I was challenged by the last study question at the end of chapter two, “Is it possible that your stress has created a barrier between you and God?”
That is a difficult question to answer honestly. I want so much to say that there is nothing between God and me. But last week I admitted that I was the problem, that I was the reason I was stressed. I was trying to control everything — things within my control and things outside of my control. I was not trusting God completely to handle everything and needed to be rescued from the troubles I have made in my life.
So, yes, stress has come between God and me. But a barrier? That seems like such a big, permanent blockage. I am thinking of the new concrete barriers that were just installed at my son’s school to keep cars from going into the bus area. They are huge and very solid.
I decided to Google for some pictures of barriers. Found one picture that had construction like barriers with a sign ‘can you break through?’ Interesting question when I look at my stressors and what I need to turn over to God. Can I get through this barrier so that nothing is between me and God? YES (I think). I know it is possible, but am not over confident that I can work through this, especially after a rough day.
But then I saw a picture that really caught my attention. There was a barrier with three lines – one going over, one going under and one going through it. I like to visualize things so this picture was great for me at this time. Did I want to just find a way around the barrier by going over or under it? Or did I want to break through the barrier? It came down to a question of the easy or hard route. I never do things the easy way, so here I go breaking through barriers.
This week’s has been challenging on several levels. The study itself presented challenges in naming my stressors. The personal stress self assessment exercise was tough. It was tough to admit what I was letting come between me and God. It was difficult to acknowledge what I was allowing to affect my relationships with others and affect my health. I was allowing all this to happen. Writing it down on paper what stressed me out, how it made me feel, what it is affecting in my life and whether I had control to change it was a very soul searching exercise that left me feeling very vulnerable.
The problem was the very next day was an extremely stressful day where I had to deal with two of the stressors on my list. I already felt exposed and weak when I started the day. So, by the end of the day, I was completely done. I had no choice but to fall on my knees and cry out to God.
“Lord, help!” I cried in my trouble and he saved me from my distress”
Psalm 107:19 NLT personalize
Yes, I cried out to God. But why do I continually wait until I am at the end of my rope before crying out?? I thought I was doing so well at handling stress. But I realized that I just had a very low stress since beginning this study and this was the first opportunity to put into practice what I was learning. I did acknowledge when I got to my breaking point and did go off on my own to spend time in prayer and did not react as I normally would. But why wait until my breaking point? Why can’t I give things over to God before I am completely spent? I really felt disappointed in myself. Another stressor is identified! I have very high expectations and often unrealistic ones for myself.
I know I am growing and changing and that change does not happen over night and I have to allow God to process the changes in me. But can he work a little faster. I was reminded of the story of the potter and the clay. God is modeling me. As he finds a flaw he has to reshape me and begin again. It takes time – I have to be patience.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue
his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns”
Philippians 1:6 NLT
Identifying my stressors has made it necessary to be fall on my knees almost constantly. This week God’s voice has been very loud and clear to me. Now it is up to me to let him lead and do what needs to be done.
I came across the song by Jaci Velasquez tonight entitled ‘On my Knees’ and really like the chorus:
I get on my knees!
There I am before the Love
That changes me
See I don’t know how
But there’s power
When I’m on my knees
In order to be change my life to be less stressed, I need to fall on my knees and go before the only one who can change me.