I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Under is such an appropriate word to go before stress. It is like being buried alive (but I’m the one with a shovel in the dirt). It is shouldering an unnecessary weight and trying to carry it with my own limited strength. Every aspect of my life screams for attention. Or so I think. I allow myself to be so driven by the squeaky wheels, perfectionism, my workaholic tendencies and self-imposed timeline. How easily I fall into this trap time and time again. And then I read:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, it’s builders labor in vain … In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat.” (Psalm 127:1-2)
Ouch. That’s me. That’s a workaholic. Toil and trouble. I can brew up a bubbling cauldron of it, operating on my will instead of God’s. Only the call of Jesus will make walking on water possible. But like da Vinci, I am trying to construct floating shoes. Toil isn’t just working hard—it’s long, strenuous, fatiguing labor. What is the appeal? I ask myself repeatedly.
Living in faith instead of fear is a daily challenge for me. In my heart I know that I am a lily of the field (Matthew 6:25-34)—loved and cared for without the need to toil, but in practice I can find myself wilting. In bouts of stubborness, I’ll allow myself get to the point of utter desperation before I confess that I am not in control.
Will my husband survive another round of layoffs? Will my anxious son pass the test? How long can my father survive leukemia? How will I survive the change coming my way? All I have to do is let go. I can cast all my anxieties on my heavenly father because he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). The plan is not mine. I do not need to try to operate on my own strength. When at last I let go, I feel his presence. He was there all along. The struggle wasn’t necessary. I find rest.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)
I pause to listen, and hear anew—the innocence in my son’s incessant chatter, the music of my life, the still small voice, my inspiration.