Breathe

I recently wrote a devotional for Front Range as part of our “Year in the Word” reading plan. This post is adapted from that but goes a little deeper for those who are curious about my journey…

“So, raise your hand if you’ve ever been stressed out. OK, so, if you can’t see it right now, hands are going up all over the internet. From Facebook to Instagram people are like, “Yea, I’ve been stressed out before.” Well, if I’m being honest I have been stressed out a time or two in my own life. And if I’m being completely transparent, I’ve struggled with a few panic attacks over the last year.

Honestly, I don’t know why they started but I got to a point in one situation where I just didn’t know how to handle the stress of what was going on around me. All of a sudden, the walls started to close in, my throat got a little tight and my breathing elevated. Not having any idea what to do, I got up and went outside to my front porch, shut out the world and tried to breathe. It felt impossible. I remember trying to tell my wife what was going on and struggling to get the words out. Truthfully, I didn’t really know what was going on. All I knew was that I couldn’t breathe and I just wanted to run and hide. To where? I have no idea. Why? I have no idea. What did I hope to accomplish? I have no idea. Eventually, I was able to calm myself down and “pull it together.” But then they started happening regularly. It took me some time to identify the triggers, but once I did, I learned how to manage them. I’m still not “cured” and they haven’t completely gone away, but it is something that I try to give to the Lord regularly.

In the book of Matthew Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I can remember in the worst moments of those panic attacks feeling like a heavy weight had suddenly been placed on my chest and the burden of not knowing what to do with that was incredibly difficult to bear. But scripture shows us that this isn’t how God operates. It seems here that if we are carrying these huge weights of stress, anxiety, or feelings of being overwhelmed by the things we have to accomplish, that doesn’t come from Him. It comes from the world. Oftentimes, it comes from between our own ears.

The truth is, we have a father who loves us, who wants the best for us, and who offers the invitation to come to Him. If I look at my life, the days I struggle the most with anxiety are the days that I forget to truly “come to Him,” and rest in his presence. It’s clear that coming to Him is the condition for this “rest,” that he promises. When we do that, when we make time to rest in His presence a priority, then we get rest, relief from our burdens, and a yoke that is easy to bear.

Have you taken the time today to come to Him? To simply enter His presence and let Him give you rest? I’m not talking about checking a box on a reading plan, but truly allowing Him time to speak to you and sing songs over you. Give Him the opportunity to confirm your identity in Him and give you the rest He promises.”

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