Yesterday I had a bit of a flap attack. Hence no blog post. Pride usually prevents me sharing my stress with the general public. Though I do like to keep my family fully informed, by word and deed.
As I've got quite a bit on this week I decided to do the sensible thing and have two largely unproductive days semi-paralysed by the fact that I can't waste time!
When I'm busy I try to multitask. This is in fact impossible. So pushed for time yesterday morning I set out to have a quiet time of devotion with the Lord, whilst feeding a 3 year old breakfast.
I'm doing the Bible in a year. This meant speed reading 4 chapters whilst trying to convince a toddler that the cereal he had demanded two minutes previously was not now disgusting! I usually journal my prayers. I find writing helps me concentrate. But no time for that yesterday. You can't hold a pen, the piece of toast you're eating and a spoon full of Cookie Crisp at the same time. So I thought a few confused thoughts in God's direction.
Next to be abandoned was the dog walk. Jasper had to go to the vet at 10.30 and as he dives into every foul and filthy puddle that we come across, I thought we should skip our usual stroll. It would be a kindness on our first visit to present a relatively clean beast. This didn't stop the vet treating me more like a criminal than a customer. Though he did jolly up just in time to present me with the bill! (It was something about needing more records. I have a "If it's not broke don't fix it." attitude to pet care. Some might feel that this is a bit agricultural. Though the dog and I have an agreement. It means that no one sticks needles into him or makes him eat pills he doesn't like. And I don't have to foot the bill.)
Finally I got to my desk. Where time flew by doing very little. I don't recommend trying to write 3 talks simultaneously. One at a time is far more effective.
The day improved post lunch with three surprising blessings. The first was Staff Prayers. It's always Wednesday at 2.30pm. Of course yesterday I was much too busy to go. But the Pharisee in me prevents me skipping things like this. So I went. I sat down thinking that I wouldn't say much. But the silence at the start grew deafening in my mind, and I'm the Senior Pastor, I'm supposed to lead in prayer. So I did. And of course it was great to be forced to bring the concerns of others before the Lord.
The second was a visit I had planned. The problem was that I discovered that the person lived much further away than I thought. The visit was going to consume the rest of the afternoon! But the result was that I had 40 minutes in the car with a colleague whose gentle conversation and loving friendship is always good for my soul. Then we had an hour with a man who was at far greater peace than I was, even though he is facing serious illness. Sharing our confidence in Christ together calmed me down and helped me focus on what mattered.
Though that didn't mean that I wanted to go to Life Group! I needed the time! The problem is that when Life Group meets in your living room and you lead it, it's quite hard to miss. I even got slightly hopeful as people failed to turn up on time, that we might get away with a quick coffee and pray and an early night. But in the end a good crowd assembled and it was a huge encouragement. The time we had chewing over the Bible flew by and people prayed earnestly to know Christ better. Then we probably had the most open and honest time of prayer for each other that we've ever shared.
I went to bed at peace and slept well.
So here are my tips for you if you're stressed today:
1. Pray. Paul says in Philippians: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
2. Meditate on God's word. Psalm 1 says that the man who meditates on God's word is
"..is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers." (Psalm 1:3)
I was far from rooted and fruitful yesterday because my eyes weren't fixed on Jesus in His word.
3. Don't miss meeting with the people God has given you to help you do 1 & 2! Especially when you can't do them on your own. The writer to the Hebrews tells us:
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:13)
Today is called "Today" and you're not an exception! I needed my prayer meeting, my friend, my visit and my Life Group. So do you.
4. Listen to Christian music. Harder to give chapter and verse on this. But it works. Here are two of my favourite You Tube playlists of the moment:
5. Walk the dog. There's nothing like your finger puncturing the bag when you're trying to pick up a sloppy poo, so that you get pungent excrement up your nail, to put life into perspective!