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Friday, January 4, 2008

God is Sovereign

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a)

Now that is a great idea. Why is peaceful meditation and individual worship so hard for me?

For instance, as I visited several blogs over the holidays, I envied women who reported sitting on the sofa all day in their PJs, eating goodies, enjoying their kids, reading or watching movies. I marveled at their ability to let go of the “ought to’s” and “should’s.” My thoughts say, “Sure, you can take the day off from laundry, but is the price you’ll pay tomorrow worth it?” And so off I go.

My life totally has room for this kind of relaxation, but my brain doesn’t. I have trouble being 100% in any moment, whether at work, at home, at church, on vacation or even watching a movie.

From the moment—the instant—I’m conscious each morning, my thoughts are rolling and roaring like ocean waves, tossing about the priorities of the day and the consequences if I fail.

I am so task-oriented that I have trouble tearing myself away from the computer at work when a friend drops by or my husband calls, or even when my supervisor needs to talk to me!

Dr. Gerald May (Addiction and Grace) says it’s quite possible to become addicted to stress. For one thing, stress causes the release of two hormones that we are all familiar with: the feel-good endorphins and the energy-surging adrenaline. If you have chronic stress in your life, such as caring for an ill loved one, or if you are naturally wired to be a little more rattled than others, your body adapts and accepts the heightened state of those hormones as the normal state of being. When you slow down and try to have a stress-free moment, your body simply doesn’t know how.

And that’s the biological perspective. Here's the spiritual perspective according to May:

… the simple matter of taking time for daily prayer can become a battle of the will excruciatingly reminiscent of that encountered in chemical addiction. The mind can generate wondrous excuses to do something instead of just being open and present. The struggles that go on between being and doing can be awesome.

In this new year, one of my goals is to make an effort to focus on the sovereignty of God. Notice I did not say “to worry less” or “be in the moment” or “trust God more” or even “read the Bible more.” While these initiatives are good, for me, they simply amount to another stress-promoting list to tackle.

I will make headway in this challenging aspect of my personality only by focusing on how big God is, on how the universe is his, and on how my self-worth has been validated solely by his decision to create me.

Being still may never be easy for me. Nevertheless, in the morning and in the evening, when my thoughts are crashing and rolling and threatening to drown me, I will repeat, “But God is sovereign.”

It is only by his power that I exist and am able to do the smallest thing. Just saying, “God is sovereign” releases pressure. It takes the focus off me and puts it on God, which is the heart of worship.

My hope and prayer is that the entire chapter of Psalm 46 will become the new endorphin-producing, Holy Spirit-calming force in my life.

1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.


Attachments or addictions to anything in life can be strong, but God is stronger. After all, He is Sovereign.



Please stop by my personal blog at 2nd Cup of Coffee.

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35 Comments:

Blogger Praise and Coffee said...

Linda,
What an awesome post!
Psalms 46 is one of my absolute favorites. It tells me that no matter what is shaken, God is my refuge and that brings me such peace and comfort.

I loved this, I'll be back to read it again. It's one that I will meditate on and need to remind myself again and again.

Thank you,
Sue

January 4, 2008 at 6:10 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

Bless you Linda.

January 4, 2008 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

Wow, Linda..

You couldn't have hit my personality any better. I'm afraid I'm addicted to chaos. I actually get MORE nervous when there is nothing to do (not that it's often) because I don't know what to do with my down time?

I've been reading Piper's Desiring God and it really is changing my perception on what satisfaction truly is. I love the statement "God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him". What an awesome thought! And if I'm satisfied in Him, my goal ought to be carving out more time to be with Him instead of giving in to my ADHD personality.

An excellent word, my friend!

Lisa

January 4, 2008 at 6:46 AM  
Blogger Kelly @ Love Well said...

I ditto what Lisa the Preacher's Wife said. I realized I'm addicted to stress a few years after being in the very hectic world of TV news. I literally did not know how to turn it off. And I still operate that way most days. It's a game to see how much I can get done in one 14-hour period.

So much to think about, Linda. These thoughts mirror many lessons God is teaching me. Thank you!

January 4, 2008 at 7:58 AM  
Blogger Shonda said...

Linda,
This is really good to know. I didn't think of it as an addiction. For me, if I stop to relax and rest until I'm done it is hard for me to get going again. Like a locomotive, one on the side, it takes a while to go again. I'll have to remind myself of that also that "God is Sovereign" daily!
Thanks for sharing this.

Blessings in Christ--

January 4, 2008 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Connie said...

"Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee" (Job 22:21).

This verse from the Preface of "The Attributes of God" came to my mind as I read your post. May God be glorified in your desire and discipline to know Him better!

January 4, 2008 at 8:37 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...

While I do not wake up with my mind rolling, my to do lists tend to be a mile long. While I don't stress about having to get it done all at once so much as being so overwhelmed with it that I just don't do anything. I love this scripture that you quoted. It can so go to my situation also. He truly is my strength and I can do what He's called me to, one step at a time. If all the mountain shaking and oceans roaring does not shake him neither will my to do list.

Great post Linda, and I just love that pic!

January 4, 2008 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Mocha with Linda said...

"While these initiatives are good, for me, they simply amount to another stress-promoting list to tackle."

You hit the nail on the head with this one. I struggle so much with legalism. Way too much focus on the "doing" and not the "being". Many times the disciplines of Godly living do indeed become more stuff to "do". If my focus is God, not the "stuff", the "stuff" will happen naturally.

Just like I spend time with my family because I love them, not because I know I should.

Thanks for sharing.

January 4, 2008 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Lisa B @ simply His said...

Yay! I'm not alone :) My brain doesn't stop thinking. Even right this second when I've got a quiet house and some time to myself -- I'm wondering what it is I need to be doing? Sitting and doing nothing just brings on more guilt.

The only way I've found to quiet my brain is to write (first thing in the morning) 3 pages in a journal. I choose to use it as a Prayer Journal (conversations with God), but I write down anything that comes into my mind. Because I wrote it down, it seems to get out of my head as if my brain is worried it'll forget something!

Ah, going off to write now ...
Lisa B.

January 4, 2008 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Mary Lou said...

This is one of my favorite verses. Whenever I get really stressed and try to pray and find that I can't..I have found that IF I will just be still before Him and focus on Him and not on what I want or think I need then I will be stilled and He will meet me in the quietness of my heart.

January 4, 2008 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Darnelle said...

"I have trouble being 100% in any moment, whether at work, at home, at church, on vacation or even watching a movie."

It's not easy to see that in print and acknowledge how true it is in your own life. A while back, God gave me a word of comfort in which He repeated many times that HE is sovereign. I still read it over and over because it simply puts life in perspective.
Linda, you are so very right when you say that it releases pressure - pressure we were never meant to endure. Oh how we need to hear it everyday - God is sovereign!
An inspired word!
Darnelle

January 4, 2008 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

What a good word. We all, myself included, need to "Be Still."
Thanks for sharing!

January 4, 2008 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger Chris @ Come to the Table said...

Thank you, thank you for this reminder today Linda!

January 4, 2008 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger teagirl said...

Thank you so much for your post! I have a to-do list that at times seems a million miles long. And yes, I've added some of the tasks like "pray" and "read the bible" to my list. I have felt guilty on the days that my task list still has things to do on it. Thanks for reminding me to focus on God.

January 4, 2008 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I lead Young Children and Worship and every Sunday we sing "Be still and know that I am God" yet it is soooo hard for us adults to be still and just be. It is a very valuable lesson.
Smiles!

January 4, 2008 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger Amy B said...

"Dr. Gerald May says it’s quite possible to become addicted to stress.....causes the release of two hormones that we are all familiar with: the feel-good endorphins and the energy-surging adrenaline."

This is so very true and God has slowly been pointing these things out to me. In fact, Darnelle and I had this conversation a couple of months ago. I am addicted to the rush. I am an action movie junkie. I like football. I like rock (Christian) music. They all cause me to stress out. I finally figured this out with the help of God and I am so thankful to be finally freeing myself of this. I gave up the music, completely. I only watch movies once every couple of weeks and well, football is hard to escape when our tigers are going the the NCAA Championship but I am working on it! :o)

So many have no idea what this does to their relationship with God. It isn't just about the style of music, or the undesirable language in movies but it is also about how it makes you feel and do you depend on it more than you depend on God? I did. I depended on the music and the movies for energy and happiness. I took that away from God.

This is a wonderful message, Linda and it so needs to be read by others. Thank you for posting this.

January 4, 2008 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

You are right. We need to listen and "be still". I wake up with the same things going on in my mind. I have to make myself "be still". Thanks for such a good post. God Bless!

January 4, 2008 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger The Trier and Jen said...

I LOVE the Psalms

well written Linda

Im praying for you

jen

January 4, 2008 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger Living Beyond said...

Be Still and Know that I am God

Be Still and Know that I Am

Be Still and Know

Be Still

Be!

Thanks for the great post
Shelley

January 4, 2008 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger annie said...

Now, you hit me right where I live. We are so entrenched in the busyness and association with productivity, but the reality is being still is not one more thing on our list--it is our Sovereing God getting our attention. The ball is not in our court, but His when we see Him as sovereign. Wonderful post to ponder! Blessings, annie

January 4, 2008 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Colby said...

May God bless you Linda, great post. "1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." That's what I hold onto. Thank You

January 4, 2008 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Quiet. Be still. These have long been dirty words in my vocubulary. My mind doesn't sit still long and the thought of being still means something is wrong. Being still before God often makes me feel as if I have done something wrong and am waiting for the shoe to drop.

January 4, 2008 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Amen and amen!! Thanks Linda for a great thought for today.

:-) Susan

January 4, 2008 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Awesome!

You are so right not to make a "to do" list of things that will help you or make you better or more spiritual. Those are all tasks. By keeping your eyes on Him you are removing yourself from the tasks and staying focused on Who matters instead of "what" matters.

January 4, 2008 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

Thank you so much for your comments! I have a very difficult time being still and quiet with God. I don't know how to do it. My mind always ends up wondering. Thank you for the challenge!

I really like that Psalm. I am going to need to add it to my scripture memorization list.

January 4, 2008 at 8:44 PM  
OpenID godisincontrol said...

Wow I sure understand the addicted to stress thing! Addictions of any kind are a struggle to deal with. Love the verses, they apply so well to what I am going through right now!
Blessings

January 4, 2008 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

"God is sovereign." It's a terrific, wake-us-up-out-of-our-normal insanity. I'm going to practice saying that this week. Thanks for a really terrific devotional, Linda!

January 5, 2008 at 1:49 AM  
Blogger B said...

You must have been a fly on the wall at our women's Bible Study Thursday night! We talked exactly about this. One lady said she had read that the more we "multi-task" the more it makes it difficult for us to focus on one specific thing. Thanks so much for your devo - I'm going to share the link with the other ladies. God's sovereignty is such a hard thing to get our minds around, but if we can do it just a teensy bit, what peace our hearts can have! Thanks so much, B.

January 5, 2008 at 5:39 AM  
Blogger Tammy said...

I love this and it ministered to me this morning!

January 5, 2008 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Leti said...

I love this Psalm. It tells me that even though there is all this "stuff" going on, I will still not fear. Why? cause God is my refuge and strength and a VERY present help in trouble. I know I couldn't get through life without knowing that God is my Helper. Thanks for sharing.

January 5, 2008 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger marina said...

These is something we all needed to read we are all overwhelemed with our to do list and stressing out over it. But knowing that God is our refuge and our stenght can get me though anything !Very well written Linda, marina

January 5, 2008 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger windycindy said...

Your first line stopped me in my tracks! It is one of my most favorite passages from the Bible. I have had a wooden sign hand painted with it and a pillow stitched with "Be still and know that I am God." Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

January 6, 2008 at 12:57 AM  
Blogger lori said...

I am really convinced now that someone, somewhere has that hidden camera here...
This past year I focused on "Be still and know that I am God." yeah, I read the early Christians would work on a discipline for a year and had they mastered it, could move on...Needless to say I may be working on this one into the next century.
I am with you...
"In this new year, one of my goals is to make an effort to focus on the sovereignty of God. Notice I did not say “to worry less” or “be in the moment” or “trust God more” or even “read the Bible more.” While these initiatives are good, for me, they simply amount to another stress-promoting list to tackle."
LIVE...LIVE...LIVE...
I'm commited to this,and I've managed to "be better at being still." I NEED TO BE!!
This one hit me in the heart!!
thank you so much for sharing!!
I'd begun to think I was the only one!!
peace and STILLNESS!
lori

January 6, 2008 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Oh Linda,

What a wonderful post. After reading all the comments, it appears most of us are failing in this area of stillness. I am like you in that I wake with my mind rolling witht eh priorities of the day. Sometimes it can be so overwhelming. I find myself sitting down and praying, asking God to take over and direct me to which ones He wants to complete.

Thank you for these words. Be still and know that I am God! Amen.

January 6, 2008 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

Thank you for sharing this encouraging message. You have helped me realize something about myself I couldn't quite pin-point before. While the phrase, "God is sovereign" may not work the same for me, I will be praying for a phrase of my own that will calm the madness of my brain! Something along the lines of..."God is BIG" would probably help me, but then again I would probably start singing the Veggie Tales song....God is bigger than the Boogie-Man. And who knows...maybe then I start laughing at myself and I'd feel better :-) Anyway, thanks again. I'll be back to check out more of your writing! God bless you.

January 6, 2008 at 11:17 PM  

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