Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pressure=Stress=Fear

I thought I had a lot underlined in chapter three but chapter four, "The Pressure's On", was powerful also. So much of what Micca Campbell shares from "An Untroubled Heart" can't be said any better. As I began reading her words, I thought of this visual. Pressure = Stress = Fear. I had not put the three factors together in a succeeding manner.

Micca described living under such intense stress can be "like living in constant terror of an intruder..." I've never lived with the actual fear of an intruder but know many have. I describe my intensely stressful years as feeling like a pressure cooker. I'm not too young to know what one is and how it works. I can still remember that awfully loud whistle when the desired pressure was reached. Many times I felt such emotional and physical pressure that I could literally blow at any time. I refuse to even allow myself to feel that way again. It was a very dangerous, emotionally fatal, and unhealthy way of not dealing with stress and pressure. I am now spiritually grounded, as never before, to prevent that.

From Psalm 23, we see that Goodness and Mercy followed David (and us) all his life. I have never thought of Goodness and Mercy as God's bodyguards for us like Micca explained. How cool is that?! His goodness is His personal virtue. It is everything He has done and is doing. (What a God-incidence that I just posted on His goodness.)

Just as a bodyguard immediately runs to the aid of its protectee, God's bodyguards, Goodness and Mercy, run to our aid also. Every good and perfect gift is from above...James 1:17

Psalm 23 shows God, in His Goodness and Mercy providing for us. He is a very active God in our lives.
He makes
He leads
He restores
He comforts
He prepares
He annoints
He provides. He is (our) provision.

"When you're barely holding on, when you can't handle one more day of stress, when you can't parent those kids another minute, when you're about to blow--relying on God's Goodness and Mercy to show up will pacify your anxieties. They may not come when you want or the way you want, but God's provisions are always certain."

Micca described how she felt she had failed as a mother yet in the midst of that she was graced with the Mother of the Year award by ParentLife magazine. "Sometimes God lifts us from discouragement of failure in the most unexpected ways." She wondered how she could be given such an honor. For me, I can suffer from low self esteem. I also inflict more guilt than is necessary onto myself. So it is encouraging to my heart to think God says this to me also. The Mother of the Year award was as if God was saying to Micca: "Hang in there, don't worry. You're doing better than you think."

"Sometimes the most merciful thing God can do is let us fall. For some reason, it's when we're down among the mess we've made that we can truly see our lives clearly." How so very true. When we are down, we are wise to look up for our help...our only true help.

Discontentment. Contentment. We've all suffered at times from this struggle. I admit I have more times than not, especially in the last two years. Struggling with being content admist my current relational desires could be an understatement many times. "When we constantly want more than God has given us, this craving reflects a heart that is discontent." Yes, I fully admit this level of discontentment. "What we're really saying to God is 'I'm not satisfied with what You have provided for me. I want more.' " Ouch! That is tough. That is convicting. That is true. He has given me/us so much, how can we ungratefully say it's not enough and we want more? Yet, I'm so guilty of that. why can't I be satisfied in Him alone? Why can't I find contentment in Him as my husband? My heart never ceases to want the greatest desire of my fleshly heart: a marriage fully sold out to Christ, a circle of three restored.

I find it so pivotal that of all people, Paul discovered the secret of contentment. Being imprisoned so much, doing without, having a thorn in his side, living in singleness, yet...yet he was content. I have always thought it is odd that Paul and I differ only by one letter in name, yet we are so different. I admire his ability to endure so much and be so content. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 To top it off he wrote those words while in jail, innocent. "Finding contentment doesn't mean we have to like our current situation, but it may require an appreciation for it." By that means, then I guess I can say I'm content. I don't like my current marital state but I can certainly appreciate the solitude, learning lessons, and time alone growing in God.

"We develop contentment when we are thankful for what God has provided, whether we like it or not. That's because peace is not absence of pressure. It's the presence of God and our attitude toward His provision in the midst of our stress."

"Being appreciative sets us free from the desire to have and lets us rest in the riches of contentment." It doesn't feel like I have a long desire-to-have list regarding jobs, finances, places. Rather, my desires are relational and spiritual in nature. Even then, I still don't feel content. It's a struggle I pursue and desire to settle in my heart.

I stand in awe when Micca shares how her dad was compelled to get and pay for the life insurance until they could afford it. Only two weeks later, her husband died. (This provision allowed her to stay at home and not rush to get a job and daycare.) Only God! Only, only, only God could do something so amazing like that. What power revealing His vast provision.

Pressure to purify. Diamonds are pressured stones. Pearls are irritated sand. Pressure can and will purify us if we allow it to work out our character to His delight.

Acknowleding Goodness and Mercy builds our faith and outweighs our fears.

"I wonder in what ways Goodness and Mercy have shown up in your life recently just when you needed them most." Ha! Read
this post from last week in which I highlighted goodness and good. Only God's timing would bring such a poignant summation of His goodness.

Ready and willing He is, to be our provision. Are we ready and willing? Like Micca, I too, want to be a woman who obeys God the first time without argument like the widow in 1 Kings 17. The widow didn't allow her need to cause fear and over power her trust and obedience.

Desperate times should not lead to desperate actions but rather to desperate cries to God for His provision. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ JesusPhilippians 4:19

"God wants to bless us, but often we forfeit His blessings because we don't ask." Amen, sister. I have argued and stressed this for a long time. You do not have, because you do not ask God. James 4:2b If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Matthew 21:22 (within context)

I may be walking down Lonely Lane and Brokenheart Boulevard, but Goodness and Mercy walk with me.

To see what others have to say, go to Lelia's.

Soaking in His Goodness,


© Copyright 2009

11 comments:

Sharon said...

Nice writing there Mssss. Paula
I know about that pressure cooker, it's been me. I have seen one of those explode once, and it is pretty scarey, wowwww revelation!
I guess when someone else sees us explode like a pressure cooker it must look pretty darn scarey huh!
This is such a great reminder of what and who we need to be!
I want to walk the walk and talk the talk always, but I know that there are times I slip, that some crazy situation or stinkin thinkin comes along, but we must continue to go forward, always.
Thanks for a thought provoking post!
Have a beautiful day! :)

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Beautiful thoughts, Paula.

Sandra said...

Hi Paula,

I loved the pressure cooker metaphor. There have been times when I've had so much on my plate that it takes just the smallest thing to set that whistle blowing. So I've learned to limit myself and turning to God so that I don't find myself at the point of blowing my top.

Blessings!
Sandra

Pam said...

hey, i came over tonight to read again... wow, there is a lot of meat in that book! all things i needed to read and hear again! thanks!

Pat said...

Paula, your writing is truly beautiful! I admire how transparent you are and how clearly God shines through your life!!
He is able!!
Love to you,
Pat

Pamela (His maidservant) said...

Paula-I am late coming over here but I find it ironic as I chose to pray Ps 23 over my husband this week. There is so much in that chapter that God does for us. We all need it.

Moving yet?

Stay strong!!

In His Graces~Pamela

Laura said...

My friend,

I have been absent for a little while, but receiving your emails and praying accordingly. I am still praying, and wondering how you are.

Miss you...

Laura

Sharon said...

Somebody must be veryyyyy busyyy!
Hope you are having a good time with all that painting you are doing, I bet the house is beautiful. Let me know more about the retreat ok. Just Love the book, and ornament!!

Carol said...

Hey Sweetie,

I've been missin my buddie Paula. This chapter was powerful wasn't it. I love how you shared you use to allow it to explode, but now with a grounding in Christ, it doesn't have too.

The contentment spoke to me too. I too struggle with that. Even in little things. Like thinking I need the next best thing, it's crazy really.

I love how you put together Pressure=Stress=Fear I never thought about it but it's so true. We must continue to seek God and give Him our pressure so we don't stress or freak out and then let fear take over. Thanks for that word picture friend.

I hope the move is going well, and all the painting. We'll be doing some painting probably in May. I'm praying for you and everything else. I love you girl.

Carol

Jeanies Heavenly Treasures said...

Paula (Sweet Pea),
I love your blog! Your writing is beautiful! I also like how you designed your blog! Isn't this Bible Study so Awesome! It's so right on time for me! Truly Amazing!
God Bless,
Jeanie

Angie said...

THIS was awesome! I was greatly encouraging to my soul!

I remember well having fear overtake my heart until I felt the very breath was being squeezed from my lungs. The enemy is nasty with his devices. GOD IS BIGGER. He is powerful and knowing! AND HE IS MY DELIVERER!!! PTL!!!

Paula YOu are a blessing!