A 113-year-old man, when asked the secret of his longevity, replied, “When it rains, I let it.”
Stress is the trash of modern life—we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.—Terri Guillemets
One morning when I was at wits’ end, I checked my email and saw that a friend had sent me a video clip. It turned out to be a collection of relaxing beach scenes, with soft instrumental music playing in the background. The waves washing on the shore reminded me of the peaceful beauty of God’s creation, and the gentle, repetitive sight and sound of the surf rolling onto the sand soothed my spirit.
There is a beautiful stained glass window in the historic Wesley’s Chapel in London, inscribed with these words: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”1
People have always wanted wings—a way to be lifted above their earthbound lives and troubles. It seems to be human nature to feel confined and discontented with “here.” Things surely must be easier, brighter, better, freer “there,” just over the next hill.
The due date for my writing assignment was fast approaching, and I was barely half done. I’d been working fast and furiously, but my mind was now too stressed to think clearly, my eyes were too strained to focus, and my shoulders were stiff from sitting hunched over my computer keyboard for so long.
I finally pulled myself away from my desk piled high with books and papers, and retreated to a nearby window for a break. As I raised my eyes to a beautiful blue, sunny sky above neighboring apartment buildings, I caught sight of a bird in graceful flight. My spirit soared with it.
I am the father of a large family, a full-time Christian volunteer, and a part-time sports coach. During our family’s two-year stay in India, I always packed some sports equipment when we traveled.
Our time there included many challenging and rewarding experiences. Our teenagers did volunteer work at several medical clinics, where they cheered up and helped ease the suffering of terminally ill children. They also taught at a home for children who had lost their parents to AIDS. We traveled to the sites of natural disasters, bringing water, food, clothing, and other relief supplies. It seemed that wherever we turned, someone needed encouragement or assistance.
In his article “Temple Time,” David Brandt Berg describes a vision he had of a group of people in a spacious glass-domed room, like the central rotunda of a large public building.
The people were standing quietly and looking up through the dome at the star-studded sky, taking deep breaths of heavenly air that descended through a hole at the top of the dome, and hearing heavenly music. Meanwhile, other people were rushing around in the wings, wearing themselves out, seemingly oblivious to what was happening in the rotunda.
I once visited a monastery that was built on the ruins of an ancient Roman fortress, set high atop a rocky crag in a Syrian desert.So steep was a series of 300 steps near the summit that supplies had to be hoisted the rest of the way using a cable system. Three stone archways at the top announced to my fellow pilgrims and me that we were nearing a sanctuary.
I see your struggles and hear your calls for help. When you feel all alone, I am there. I feel your heartaches, and wait for you to come to Me in prayer. Come into My sanctuary, into that secret place that you and I can share. There I am able to lift the worries, the cares, and the confusion. There I can restore your feeling of purpose and infuse you with strength to go on.
Life can be a struggle, but you do not have to struggle alone. Many times I have placed burdens in your life that seemed like mountains. They weigh your spirit down and you wonder why I have placed them there. I have not done these things to reprove you or as some sort of punishment.—I have done them to bring you closer to Me. I know your heart better than anyone else ever could, and love you more dearly.
Jesus, You said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Right now I’m worn out and weary, so here I am, coming to You. Please give me that rest of spirit You promised. Take my mind off of my work and problems for the next few minutes, and help me relax.
Thank You for never being too busy for me. Any time of the day or night, I can stop and direct my thoughts toward You, and You always know just what I need. I feel such peace in Your presence.