Yesterday I wrote in my journal:
"I am so far beyond being stressed. I feel lost... without focus or a plan. I don't like that feeling. I feel like I'm suffocating and about to run out of air, but there's no room to breathe. I feel attacked on all fronts. I feel like someone has set off a stun bomb and I am left dazed, confused and blind. All the while, everything is being thrown at me, but I can't grab anything or respond fast enough to catch what's been thrown. I feel like I just have to stand here and take the beating."
It's been a rough couple of months. Recently my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer and it's been a brutal downhill slide. That has been a weight on our family in ways I never anticipated. But...the "suffocating" comes from feeling like it's the cancer diagnosis coupled with major changes in my business, income shifts and changes, dealing with uncertainty, job stresses, financial pressures, and just "life" stuff. The last straw... my cellphone quit working and I didn't have insurance on it. YIKES! One of these on its own is doable...but all together, I feel crushed under the weight.
Have you ever felt that way? Ever felt like you were loosing ground, out of options, no where to go? As I wrote the above statements in my journal, I felt God's promises start to flood my heart and mind. I began reading the story of Joshua. In the first chapter, we see God putting Joshua in a leadership role of epic proportions. Moses led the Israelite nation through some of its most miraculous circumstances... the plagues in Egypt, crossing the Red Sea and surviving four decades in the wilderness. Moses had died and God looked to Joshua to pick up and take over. Can you imagine the pressure, the stress? Talk about uncertainty!
I think about being in Joshua's shoes. As a natural people pleaser, my first response would have been, "They won't like me/trust me/ follow me like they did Moses." And then I would have ran through a mile-long list of "what ifs."
But as I continued reading the chapter, and as I reflected on my own situation, I discovered three HUGE truths that put breathe back in my lungs.
1: God promises Joshua "you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them."
God didn't give this colossal assignment to Joshua without having an end result in mind. That end result was more than amazing, and God promised to use Joshua to get it done. There was no wavering in God's choice or his decision to use Joshua.
2: God promises to be with Joshua wherever he goes.
In verse 9, God tells Joshua...don't become overwhelmed or uncertain. I am with you wherever you go. That means God is sticking beside Joshua, not just physically being present no matter where Joshua goes, but that God is on his side, cheering him on, wanting to see Joshua blow the doors off this plan God has set in motion.
3: God gives Joshua the formula for his success (and ours) -- Meditate on the Word day and night.
God said to Joshua, if he does this he will be able to do what is written in the Word, his ways and efforts will be prosperous and he will be able to deal wisely, make good decisions and have good success.
So what does all this have to do with my "can't breathe" feeling? Well... for starters, going to the Word for understanding and peace is always the right move. But Joshua's story and the promises God gives him is spot on!
God doesn't have a mediocre plan for us. He has a reason for creating us, a plan to see it through and it's all good! Just like Joshua who was told he would get the Israelites to the Promised Land, God is looking at you and I -- past our limitations, circumstances, situations and HE whole-heartedly has a plan for us to do something great for Him!! My situation is not ideal. Joshua's wasn't either. He was handed a whole nation and they were standing in the wilderness with a ginormous city and army to overtake in order to claim the land promised to them. But....
The same promise of God's presence no matter what is true for us. As we walk out our God-given plan and press forward to the end result, God is with us... He's for us, cheering us on, encouraging us, strengthening us. He didn't give Joshua the role of leader and then leave him to figure it all out on his own. In the same way, God has given us an assignment and He is there to work it out with us. Life may be tough, but God is tougher. Cancer might take my father-in-law and there might be a thousand ripples that shake us up a bit, but God PROMISES to be there through it all and....
I can make clear decisions, act accordingly and have good success... just like Joshua. The same formula works for me and it works for you! It starts with the Word. When I was feeling overwhelmed yesterday, taking time to open the Bible was the first part of the equation. Reading God's promises over-wrote the lies and fears I was buying into. The rest of my day, I went about praying for God's insight, his favor, his presence in all that I did. The results were much like Joshua's... no, I didn't get a promised land full of milk and honey... but I did get a free cellphone! More on that miracle later :)