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Posted by Barbara Smith (BWSmith)
This message was originally posted on
Christian Homeschool Fellowship on the Web

Stress, invisible and deadly, frequently camps out at my house and sabotages many promising learning opportunities. Worse, it devastates my emotional and physical health, and stunts my daily spiritual growth. Recognizing when I am entertaining this unpleasant visitor is easy; my family quickly detects it.

First, my breathing becomes shallow; then my heart pounds, my eyes start to bulge and I lose the ability to speak complete, coherent sentences. Reflecting on what I must accomplish, and with what resources, all within a certain period, a small fire builds in my brain; words and phrases, usually cross and impatient, spill out of my mouth. Uncertain if they should take cover, my family gives me a wide berth as I begin pacing from room to room, clearly seeing what I have not done. When I check the condition of the yard, or decide to pay bills, or review the to-do list, stress and I become one. Seeing the obvious, my brave daughter urges me to "Breathe, Mom!" just before I keel over.

Stress is an invisible force exerted upon a body that may strain or deform the body's shape. Eliminating it has become a national pastime. However, stress can be a good thing; it is needed. Without "stress" sailboats would never glide so gracefully across the Chesapeake Bay. No stress on the mast of a sailboat, means no forward movement.

In sailing, wind fills the sails, which "stresses" the mast, which stresses the keel, and propels the boat through the water. How the stress is directed, determines how well the boat sails. The set of the sails distribute the stress. Therefore, a wise sailor watches and adjusts the sails, reefing in or letting out on the sheets, to harness the force of the wind. What snaps the mast in most sailing disasters is not the force of the gale, but the set of the sails.

Like wind, emotional stress is an unpredictable force. We cannot eliminate it, but we can learn from the seasoned sailor who reefs in the sail before increasing winds and lets it out if the winds slacken. A wise Christian pays attention to the prevailing "winds," and adjusts the set of the sails: our relationships, business responsibilities, chores and outside activities. If we direct the stress to our keel, Jesus Christ, He will propel us through murky waters and right us when we are about to founder. An unexpected, invisible gale stress does not have to swamp your boat!

We may have to live with one deforming force after another: willful children, unsaved spouses, no money or job, physical or mental disability or DISAPPOINTMENT. Some of us may wind up in alien or awful circumstances. What stresses us is NOT more galling than any other task Christ calls us to do, in HIS strength, for HIS glory.

On days when stress blows me off course, literally takes the wind out of my sails, and I am luffing and less then charming, Christ often reminds me: "You didn't ask Me for help setting your sails. You didn't let ME navigate and you didn't provision your little sailboat with prayer."

Christ knows about the stresses that unnerve me. He told His disciples to expect tribulation. (John 16) Jesus warned them during the Passover supper to keep them from stumbling, to prepare them for trials and to remind them that they would face trouble. Christ, who at the moment was under more stress than they knew, counseled them to take courage; to look to His example, for He would overcome the world.

On the night in which He was betrayed, Christ's disciples added to His stress! The men with whom He spent three years missed the point of His teaching during the Passover meal. Later, they dozed when He asked them to pray with Him. Judas double-crossed Him with a kiss. Peter's blustery bravado fizzled into cowardly denial, and even John, the disciple whom He loved hung back.

Having to bear even a smidgen of these indignities would drive me nuts. Yet, Christ maintained His equilibrium by remembering His calling. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Though verbally assaulted, scourged, mocked and tortured to death, Christ still remembered the joy set before Him; He embraced the Cross, so that we persevere. We may never completely avoid the mental, physical tension that goes with our age and stage. However, Christ understands stress, and HE has given us everything we need to overcome it (2 Peter 1:2-11)

© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved
Please contact Barbara Smith at workbook@toad.net before reprinting any of Barbara's messages. These messages are taken straight from the chfweb.com Message Board and Barbara may want to check them over for publication. Please include, in the body of your message, which message you are interested in reprinting.

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