My personal stress level and my feeling of being overwhelmed by daily life is directly proportional to the lack of time I spend reading and studying God's Word and praying.
Does that make sense? When I get too busy to make time for Bible study and prayer, then my ability to cope with my daily life complete with all of its challenges becomes too much for me. So I go longer and longer without quality time with God, and my perceived level of stress and being overwhelmed grows higher and higher.
Yesterday I went for an hour long run, outside and alone. My three older children were running with me, but they were not running with me. We were on the same trail so that I could keep my eye on them, but they were ahead of me. So I had some time to just think. Running alone outside like that is good for me. It clears my head. I love running outside with my dear friends. We call it therapy, and it is! But sometimes I need time to run alone and think. Time to ponder and pray. So yesterday I had the opportunity to reflect on what exactly was causing me so much stress lately. I have been hounded by my to-do list, which grows longer and longer each day, yet I work hard all day every day. I have been feeling like the mouse in the little spinning wheel...running and running, but going nowhere. Making no real progress.
I thought to myself. What is different right now? Is my load any heavier? Has anything major changed?
- I have 5 children to take care of--nothing new
- I have a short summer break from school, but it is filled with camp, VBS, and vacation--nothing new
- I really have only two weeks to plan for our upcoming school year--nothing new
- My house could use a really good cleaning, top to bottom--nothing new
- I am really, really behind on the ironing--nothing new
- I am exercising five days a week--nothing new
What is different? Why am I so overwhelmed? Why do I have this fear that August 3rd is going to come, and I will not be prepared for the start of a new school year!
And then the answer comes to me. I have neglected to spend time, daily, reading my Bible and praying. It's that simple. I have bought into the lie that I don't have time for that. I hit the floor running each morning, coffee in hand--starting the washer, tending to the children, adding to my ever increasing list.....but I am ashamed to admit that I have not spent time in God's Word for over a month now. And as I look back at how long I have felt like this (stressed, unrested, overwhelmed), I realize that it has slowly built over the last month. Over the last few weeks I have still read the Bible to my children, and I have read what I needed to to prepare for RYC lessons and my Sunday and Wednesday Bible classes at our local church, but that is all. Nothing more.
I challenged you, blog readers to read Colossians 3:1-17 daily for the month of June. I have not done that.
I needed to finish up my in depth study of James by June 30. I have not done that.
I had planned to begin reading the Bible in 90 days again beginning July 1. I have not done that. I was so relieved when I saw that lots of people out in blog land were starting this round on B90 on July 11. That gave me a few extra days until I had to get serious about my Bible reading again.
I began last night making the necessary corrections. I read the passage in Colossians twice before bed. From now until July 11, I plan to daily read Colossians 3:1-17, taking notes and trying really hard to apply the verses to my life. I also plan to reread all of James each day, and finish up my study of that book as best I can. Then on Monday, I will begin B90! Today, I will start writing again my Five Things I Am Thankful For each day (I started this over 15 years ago), I will update my prayer requests in my Bible study binder. I will make the time for Bible study and prayer.
And I know that my stress level will lower. My responsibilities will still be there. But my attitude will be different. My perception will be different.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on the things of the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.