THE STORMS OF LIFE
I don’t know about you but my life seems rift with storms! In this three part series I’m going to share three principles of spirituality found in the Bible that help us to break the cycle of “Spiritual Stalemate.” I’m going to share up front this is not some formula that promises a quick fix to life. The self help section at Barnes and Noble is full of those! After working in the field of counseling for over a couple decades I am well aquatinted with the formulas of pop psychology on how to turn things around by following a few simple steps. If I had found one trust me, I would share it! My experience probably lies closer to the wisdom of taking on one day at a time. Perhaps that’s why Jesus empathized this in Matt 6: 34:
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself, each day has enough trouble of its own!”
If we are really honest though, we do worry about tomorrow though don’t we? We’re driven by life and its demands and challenges in a never ending stream of responsibility that seems to rob us of our peace. Even if we try to avoid the responsibility it catches up with us as some of us have found avoiding responsibility ends up being more work than being responsible! A wise old sage of mine Dr. Gene Zwillinger who was a mentor in my counseling program was once responding to a student’s argument that life was unfair to certain groups and generous to others. Dr Zwillinger (who looked like my idea of Moses by the way) responded “What do you mean? Life is unfair to everybody!”
I never forgot that and as I got older and as the pressures of making a living, paying the bills and raising kids started piling up the “good life” never got closer it seemed only to get farther away! My life has been a response to responding to the pressure around me, all of the above and the emotional spiritual pressure of trying to be a spiritually balanced man in an imperfect world! Actually I suspect we are a lot more alike whether we reside in California or Calcutta than we would like to admit. In the 90’s I spent a lot of time going to Baja California with my local church. One of the things I brought back was this. Quite often the people we visited with in Mexico, dirt poor literally by our standards, seemed to have a joy I was missing. What was my take away? What I thought would lead to rest from the chaos of life was not overcoming the obstacles and pressures of life it was living in the midst of them. Of course this thought didn’t crystallize until almost 15 years later when like you I went through my own personal storm of life severe enough to test everything I believed in and every part of my beliefs. I hate to admit it, but prior to that I was pretty much a “lip service Christian.”
What does it mean to live in the midst of the storms of life? Probably one of the first considerations is to ask yourself is just how driven you are by them to begin with? You can be on top of the world with a house in the suburbs thinking you have no storms and be in the midst of them unaware. That’s right, if your life revolves around maintaining a defense to uncertainty thinking you can control it when in fact anyone of us could lose anything and everything at anytime make sure you’re not in a delusion! Being spiritually alive is quite different than spiritually apathetic! The storms of life usually are not so subtle though, we know them, loss, disappointment, financial hardship, relationship failure, marriage breakups, medical setbacks, chronic illness or just plain loneliness to name a few. These storms put pressure on us. They produce real anxiety and frustration. They may subside to some extent but they reappear in different forms pretty much right up to the end of life. If we don’t find a strategy to respond to them we will suffer through life blown like a leaf in the wind.
Philippians chapter 4: 6-7 gives us a rather remarkable answer to handling the storms of life. It reads “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard you hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Over the next couple of weeks were going to dig deep into these two verses and parse out what they mean and what they don’t . Rest in this though, all of us know of the anxiety fueled life. The Apostle Paul who wrote the verse knew a life that would have put most of us in the fetal position! (See 2nd Corinthians chapter 11). We have a principle of spiritual life offered here from a man with irrefutable credibility. Take some time to ponder this week just how driven you are. Are you at peace? Really? Or are you caught in a treadmill cycle that relentlessly pushes you around and you doing you best means putting on a smile when its turmoil inside!