“We can believe that a life of peace and less stress is feasible if we rely on God, who promises that it can be.” (Page 92). This is one of the first quotes in Chapter 5 of Stressed Less Living by Tracie Miles that really hit me as I worked through the chapter. I working through this study and really opening up to the possibilities, BUT… do I really, really believe that a life of peace and less stress is even possible? I read this sentence a few times and then I noticed the little word ‘IF’.
IF I rely on God, THEN a life a peace and less stress is possible.
Mark 10:27 says, “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (NLT)
I believe God can do anything that he chooses to do. I do. But then I look at my life and all that it involves and wonder if the miracle of a less stress life is even possible. There are so many other factors that I can not control that affect my life daily. I can almost hear Tracie repeating a comment from an early chapter, that the things I can’t control are for me to let God control. So that gets back to me trusting God to do what is best. How long will it take for me to learn that lesson?
This chapter is full of truths and information that on some level I already knew. But for some unknown reason (well maybe not that unknown), I have not put into practice in my life and in my choices.
“But true joy and peace are withing your reach if you are reaching out to the right place for help – Jesus Christ. Peace is not a matter of life or circumstances; it’s a matter of the heart.” (page 93).
So, it does not matter what circumstances that I am currently living, I can still experience true joy and peace. While trying to digest this tidbit of information, I am then faced with examining my heart. Am I allowing the circumstances to dictate what is in my heart? Am I allowing the world to control my joy? To be honest, yes, I do allow those around me to control my joy & peace.
While God can do and control anything and everything about my life, he chooses to change me through my circumstances, not change the circumstances themselves. Some days this is easier to accept than others. Some days I just want him to take away the difficult situations and garbage and make it all sunshine & roses!
During the last couple of weeks, I have started walking my son to school and then walking from there to my office. It takes about 25 minutes with the school being about half ways. I have really enjoyed the time to just be quiet in God’s presence. To spend the time in conversation with God at the start of my day. Sometimes it’s all about me, but other days it is a chance to lift someone up to God in prayer. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this chapter and the condition of my heart.
Tracie makes the comment that true faith needs to be active, not passive. And if I am going to have genuinely active faith then I need to be focusing on the health of my entire being — physically and spiritually. Lately I have been really concentrating on my physical health, but the blunt reminder that I also needed to be focusing on my spiritual health was heard – loud and clear.
“If our hearts are not in the right place, the amount of time we spend trying to do all the right things will be pointless.” (Page 109)
WOW! Nothing like cutting to the core of the issue. Being busy doing things for God is not enough if my heart is not in the right place. I think of the chorus, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” So this week I have been singing this chorus (to myself!) and examining the condition of my heart.
There is a powerful paragraph near the end of this chapter that really summarizes the chapter for me.
“Being a Christian not only means serving God with our bodies, but serving him with our hearts, souls and minds. It means being totally sold-out to Christ in all aspects of our lives — surrendering all of our thoughts and actions to him. It means seeking the Lord with such great intensity that helps us to be keenly aware of our need for his help to deal with our stress in the most effective ways. Once we are fully connected with Jesus, we will begin craving an insatiable daily portion of him to nourish our souls and fill our spirits with the peace we are starving for.” (page 111)
So I leave this chapter with the challenge to seek God with great intensity and to daily remind myself that I need his help to deal with the stressors in my life. God wants me to be full of joy and peace, but he is patiently waiting for me to turn to him for help. This chapter may be entitled “Take Back Your life”, but I am giving it back — back to God. Giving back complete control to God of my life.