Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Without Ceasing.

Some days, when life is stressful, the best thing to do is check out from your hectic schedule.  Take some time and relax.

Spend time with a loved one.  Eat your favorite snack.  Read a Psalm.  Hold a puppy.

These last two weeks have been a couple of the busier weeks of my life, as you've probably noticed.

Yesterday was particularly difficult.  I woke up an hour early to attempt to get some more things done, which put the amount of sleep I got the night before under five hours.  I arrived at my earliest class feeling a little more relaxed after I had completed a project and finished some of what I had wanted to do... until I saw my friend Stephanie intensely flipping through pages of a review packet for our sociology class.

"Are you ready for the sociology test?" Stephanie asked in a slightly strained voice, looking up at me for a moment and then turning back to her notes.

I shrugged.  "Not entirely, but it isn't until Wednesday."

"Emily, the test is today."

I looked over at another student who actually happened to be in the same sociology class as Stephanie and me.  He nodded.  "Yeah, the test is today."  Well, great.  Although I had studied for the exam ahead of time on Wednesday and Thursday, it was now Monday.  I certainly needed to review some of that material at the very least... and sociology class was coming up next.

I sat in my sign language class, trying to keep calm while thinking about how I would possibly catch up in time for the next class.  "God," I whispered, "help me out today."  I'm not good at handling stress.  When I become too overwhelmed, I break down.  I can only take so much.

After a few minutes of class, my professor stood up and signed to us, "You all look very tired.  I will let you out early today.  Get some sleep."  She ended up letting us out of class an hour early, which gave me just enough time to study for my exam.  I actually think I did pretty well.

My third and final class of the day, Math Analysis, filled me with fear and dread.  Our third exam is coming on Wednesday, which scares me a little bit.  Math is my worst subject by far.  Our professor returned the last quizzes we took and I ended up doing very poorly.  My heart sank at the sight of the grade I made.

I sat at my table, my head in my hands as I stared at the grade on the paper.  The professor began to talk about how he knew we were all stressing about the test on Wednesday and how he wanted us to all feel prepared... so he would give us a free 100 on our next quiz.

Thank God.  I needed that 100 so badly.

Someone in my Impact camp sent out a text yesterday that said, "1 Peter 5:7 'Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.'  If any of you are feeling a little overwhelmed... remember that we serve a big God who cares.  Remember that these trials are fleeting, but if we allow Him, God can use them to grow us in faith and maturity.  Be faithful to work hard, but don't be defined by that work.  And take time to break the cycle of business with stillness before your God.  I promise you it's what you need most."  Those were wise words.

Overall, yesterday was stressful and busy and overwhelming, but the Lord walked with me through it all.  He showed me that even in the little things, He is taking care of me.  He's got me.

On the way home from class, I spoke with my friend Ian about taking time to pray in class.  Ian said he prays in class all the time, especially during difficult tests and assignments.  I pray in class on nearly a daily basis.  Perhaps it seems silly to involve God in worries like, "I don't know if I will be able to make an A on this test!" but if I care, He cares.  If I am stressed, He wants me to put my faith in Him rather than on my own abilities and worries.  He cares about what is causing this distraction.

The Lord has taken care of me with such faithfulness and grace this week.  His gentle hand has been guiding me without fail.  On days I start out feeling entirely stressed, I keep ending up feeling a deep sense of peace instead.

Only the Lord can provide that.  And I'm so thankful for it.

I don't know if this time of year is as busy and stressful for you as it is me, but take some time and talk to God today.  He does care about what's going on in your life.  He will guide you through it with gentleness and love.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray without ceasing, and as difficult as that might sound, that's my personal goal.  I want to be in constant communication with my Father.  I want Him to be involved in my life, not just in the big things.  

Don't stop praying today.  Give Him your concerns.  He'll take care of you better than you will ever imagine.

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