Saturday, January 2, 2010

Confused? Overwhelmed? Simply Take the Next Right Step

(Walking our niece Whitney back home to our hotel through the confusing streets of downtown Chicago at dusk,carrying her shopping bags, holding her hand. She didn't have a care in the world because her beloved Uncle Greg was leading her, one step at time and she knew that he knew the way.)

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Charlie Shedd told the story of his young daughter Karen, who became overwhelmed by the multiple pieces involved in creating a model of the human brain for a science project. Her friend Ben was helping her but still, she could not see the forest for the trees of "brain parts." One evening Karen came home, excited about a new plan she and Ben had worked out. "Ben says I should bring the whole business over to his house. Instead of me taking him the parts, he wants the whole deal. then he'll give me the parts in their right order."

What a concept to apply to our tangled lives. Give God the whole deal (whatever your current "overwhelm" might be) and then let Him show us which thing to do deal with and how to do it, one focused step at a time. Only He knows where we ultimately want to be, and revealing too much at once only clogs our all-too-human brains.

Stormie Omartian wrote a book with the title, Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On and the title alone may be worth the price of the book. It's a powerful way to deal with overwhelm when there are too many tasks to be done, too many bills to pay, too many relationships in confusing disarray. At this juncture I've found it helps to simply stop, drop and roll on over to God's presence and say, "Okay, I'm going to give you the whole business and let you tell me which part you want me to tend to today. Please give me just enough light for the step I'm on."

Jesus warned us not to worry about tomorrow because "each day has enough trouble of its own." We were not created to borrow tomorrow's worries. Like manna, God only gives us a daily portion of strength to deal with the next 24 hours. Overthinking about tomorrow,leaves us paralyzed for the only task we are equipped to handle and lands us in a place that fries our brains.

In the bestselling book, Eat, Pray, Love, the author Elizabeth Gilbert recalls a time when she could not sleep because she was so desperately confused, living in an unhappy marriage, and overwhelmed as to what to do about the mess she was in. She finally had nowhere to go but to God. She asked Him what to do. The answer was very clear. "Go back to bed." It was the first of many small steps to getting better, but it was an important first. She needed the sleep to give her brain the rest and strength for the turmoil ahead.

If you have no idea where to begin or start, with anything that needs fixing in your life, you might begin by praying, "I trust You to show me the next right step." Then do that, and when it is done, ask for your next step. It is amazing how fast this will clear mental fog and bring peace to anxious hearts.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7

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