Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:33-34 (NIV)

As my 68th birthday rapidly approaches, tomorrow in fact, I’ve been feeling like I will never get caught up. Caught up on the books I didn’t read last year, but wanted to. Caught up on the things I have left undone (I haven’t written on this blog in all too long). Caught up on the people I need to talk to, but haven’t! The list is endless!

When I started feeling that way I began to think, “why is the temptation so great for me to feel that I’m somehow ‘behind’?”

Here were some of the random thoughts that came from me asking myself this question –

I have to catch up to “others” I feel are “ahead” of me.

I have to catch up on all the good things I need to do to consider myself “worthy” of the rewards and benefits I reap.  

I have to catch up on my devotional life, my work, my reading, my writing . . . .

It then dawned on me that I may somehow have this perspective on life that I’m in some sort of competitive race. It’s perhaps my pride that shows up to suggest that there are people in my life I’m magically “ahead” of and others I know and admire who are actually “ahead” of me.

I’m not really aware of anyone in my life who would consider being in a “race” with me or against me.

This is a very uncomfortable and desperate way to live life. It was only when I stopped and asked myself this question that began to realize the insanity that was gripping me.

Do I have something to prove to others? Do I have something to prove to myself?

Why the need to feel “caught up”? Will I ever really be “caught up” in any sense of the word?

The answer is “probably not.”

Then the comment Jesus Christ made, recorded in Matthew 6 came to mind. He said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow (catching up, perhaps?), for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

Someone recently commented to me that we really only live in the present. We can’t “fix” or alter the past, we can only learn from it. We actually can’t know or live in the future which hasn’t arrived. We can only live in the present – often where we find the greatest challenge.

I know that I can be much more disciplined in my use of time and in organizing my life around the things which are most important. However, when I feel the stress of trying to “catch up” I’m really oblivious to all the wonderful opportunities for life and growth my Lord and maker has put right around me each day. As a follower of Jesus, life in His eternal Kingdom has already begin and I’ll never be behind or have to “catch up” only to live moment by moment in His Divine Presence.

Perhaps you can relate.

So when you and I feel the urge to “get caught up” maybe its time to take a step back and do a reality check. Is there anyone that really cares but us? Is there anyone keeping score?

If not, it might be better to trust the God of all eternity with the present and seek Him and His Kingdom first.

Read Full Post »

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’ – Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV)

It often happens to me, usually without warning. I’m suddenly and inexplicably beset with my own fragility and weakness. It may be something someone says to me, a reaction to the daily (mostly negative) news or some comment made on Social Media, but it can send me into a state of despair and sometimes depression. Without warning I seem to end up awash with anxiety, fear, anger and a host of other unexplained emotions which evade my personal space and then don’t leave at my request.

In a complex world of competing world views, one thing is fairly certain – human beings are both thinking and feeling beings. Hopefully most people reading this would agree on that point. But the relationship between our thoughts and our feelings pose a very complex question. How often are our “feelings” a true reflection of reality?

Quite often what we may “feel” isn’t necessarily real. An often quoted illustration of this is the pilot flying the airplane and feeling that they are traveling right side up when in fact they are upside down. What the pilot “feels” isn’t exactly “real.” He has to look at the instruments on the plane to assess objective reality.

I have known of several people who struggle with eating disorders. Some of them are quite thin and frail and yet “feel” fat. I know of others who are quite wealthy and successful by most human measurements, and yet “feel” inferior and worthless. Most of us can come up with our own list.

As I have conversed with several individuals lately, I’ve come across a similar story. During the strange time of lockdowns due to Covid-19 and a world that seems to sink deeper into turmoil, many of our emotions have been strong and persistent these days. Some of us have been subject to panic attacks and shortness of breath who have actually never experienced these things before. It’s been a strange and unusual time to say the least. Why the strong feelings? Do they point to something that’s real or only the way we perceive and process it?

Personally, I have to come back to objective reality and start looking at the instruments on the plane, to continue the illustration above. I think the key is to stay grounded in a reality that we can have some degree of certainty about, even if it does require faith. Faith and reason both have a place in determining what is “real” regardless of what our emotions may tell us.

Recently I’ve been doing more thinking about what Jesus Christ said about “the Kingdom of God” recorded in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) of the New Testament. Although this major subject cannot be fully discussed or described in one short essay such as this, it is clear that Jesus was all about leading people into a new reality that centered on Him. He referred to it as “the Kingdom of God,” or “The Kingdom of Heaven” or “the Heavens.”

I have to admit, that even though I’ve been a follower of Jesus for just over fifty years, I still have much to learn about the mystery of the Kingdom that King Jesus spoke about so often. However, one thing I do know is that the writer to the Hebrews said that this Kingdom was indeed unshakable. Perhaps that is because it is based on an unshakable Person who points to a reality greater than the deteriorating world we see around us.

The gospel writers recorded the words of Jesus in terms that everyday people of that era would understand. The good news is that the Kingdom of God is now available to everyone who will put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The reality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is an indisputable fact regardless of how anyone may “feel” about it. This unshakable Kingdom is grounded in an indestructible Person.

A friend of mine spent many years in recovery from alcoholism attending AA meetings. She shared with me many important lessons which have even helped and stuck with me to this day. One thing she learned during her years of recovery was, “feelings are not facts, they are just feelings.” Even though feelings can tell us there is a problem they often don’t give us the solution to the problem.

When my emotions are strong and confusing in times like these I’m thankful that as a follower of Jesus Christ I can rest secure in a risen and living Savior who gently guides me into a Kingdom that cannot and will not be shaken. He won my heart with a love that is sacrificial and a life that is indestructible. I’m grateful for many others who join me on this journey as well as many others who have gone before and testify to the Kingdom’s reality and eternality – regardless of how I may feel. Will you join us in the journey? I hope so, but the choice is up to you.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: