Chapter 11. Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

Capturing God’s Heart Volume #11 

We are all overwhelmed at one time or another.  Life has many dynamics to it, and we are often stretched beyond what we think we can do and beyond who we are.

And this is certainly true in ministry, where others are looking to us for answers and solutions and wisdom. In those times we are vulnerable to discouragement.

But I’ve discovered six principles that have helped to frame the challenges of our days and I want to share them with you.

1.  Lead with Generosity

History has shown that those who position themselves to bless others are leaders in the land. This is an opportunity that is open to any one of us at any time.

“They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor.  But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.”  

2 Corinthians 8:2 NLT

Generosity comes from the outflow of our relationship with the Lord and is based on who He is rather than our circumstances. (footnote #1)

Generosity is a hearts attitude that seeks to bless others.  It is a way of being in the world that is a blessing that honours and pours over others.

How might you lead in generosity today?

2.  Confess Fear

There are many things to be afraid of and many times we are frightened and shrinking back in fear.

Being afraid and fearful is normal.  There are so many verses in the Bible about ‘do not fear’ that we see fear to be a pretty normal problem for all of us in our humanity.

Yet just as many times we find these words, “Do not fear”, and in John we find Jesus saying this,

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  John 14:27 NLT 

The way to access the peace of Jesus Christ is to simply confess our fear, “God I am afraid.”

Rather than trying to not be afraid, “I will not be afraid, I will not be afraid, I will not…” which never works by the way (we cannot talk ourselves out of fear), open honesty about our fear secures us in the covering of God and submits our reality to him.

When we are afraid we simply confess, “God I am afraid” and the peace of Christ can takes its place in our lives. (footnote #2)

3. One Day at a Time

We can only live one day at a time, and it is important to discipline our minds and hearts to remain in that ‘one day at a time’.  In Proverbs we find good advice about staying in today and not living forward into tomorrow with pride,

“Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.” Proverbs 27:1 NLT 

And in Matthew we find the same kind of advice but this time about worry,

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today” Matthew 6:34 NLT

Both of these verses tell us to simply live in today.  The tasks for today are enough for today.  The blessings of today are enough for today.  And all we need for today we have today.

The grace for tomorrow we do not have yet, for it is not yet tomorrow.

We simply live in today – One day at a time.

4.  Do with What We Have

While it is easy to think that we need this or must have more of that thing etc, we can in fact move forward with the present reality and resources more than we believe.

While there are certainly times of preparation and waiting on the timing of God, when it comes time to move forward or to stretch into that next thing, we do so regardless of what we think might be missing.

‘Doing with what we have’ works two ways.

One, we put to rest the reasoning that we cannot do such and such until we have this or that. We simply get on with the work regardless.

And two, we experience today in all its fullness.  What we need we have, and what we have we fully utilize.  No longer do we live out in the future when such and such will come to be.

Rather we find gratefulness and fulfillment in the here and now. (footnote #3)

Doing with what we have is the secret to joy and contentment in the here and now. And we find this truth,

“And God will generously provide all you need.  Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”  2 Corinthians 9:8  NLT

5.  Be Poured Out

The needs of hearts and souls around us are many.  Oftentimes we are insufficient for them, but in the knowledge of God and of who he is, and because we have found him in our own lives, we can follow His lead and give of ourselves.

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” Ephesians 1:6  NLT 

Because of God’s pouring into us, we can pour into others.  Much like a healthy stream of water that comes from one place and goes to another, the act of being poured out ensures that there is a flowing spring of the spirit through our beings.

We take in the grace of God and we pour it out to others. (footnote #4)

6.  It’s Not Our Work

We come to see that as we minister to others that it is not our work.  We simply show up, and the Spirit works through us.

We therefore do not need allow overwhelm to stop us, or fear to hold us back.  Rather, we can boldly love and speak and minister because it is really the work of God that makes the difference.  We simply offer our lives to God’s touch. He does the rest. (footnote #5)

“There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.  God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”  

1 Corinthian 12:5-6 NLT 

  1. Lead in Generosity
  2. Confess Fear
  3. One Day at a Time
  4. Do with What we Have
  5. Be Poured Out
  6. It’s Not Our Work 

These provide a framework that gives strength to our days and direction for how we might be in the world.

The influence of our lives has little to do with us, and it has everything to do with God. 

As we live out of who God is, rather than our circumstances, we will find strength and encouragement in our days.  God bless each of you mightily, may you know him a little better today.

Application

1.  Set aside some time to come before the Lord.

2.  Invite the Holy Spirit’s revelation.

3.  For each of these six principles ask the Lord how to apply each in your own life: 

A.  Lead in Generosity,  B.  Confess Fear,  C.  One Day at a Time,  

D.  Do with What we Have,  E.  Be Poured Out,  F.  It’s Not Our Work

Prayer

“God we come before you in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We enter into your kindness and your glory.  Thank you for inviting us to participate in your kingdom here on earth.  Teach us to walk well with you. 

God I want to move only at your direction and guidance.  I want you to be my guide.  I leave behind my own best ideas and I welcome your voice to show me how to live each day, how to interact with the people I am serving, and how to honour you in all my dealings.”

Summary – overwhelmed

The joy of the Lord overflows in generosity.   2 Corinthians 8:2

God’s peace washes away our fear.   John 14:27

Live in Today and we leave tomorrow with God.  Proverbs 27:1 

We live in the sufficiency of God, today is enough.  1 Timothy 6:6

Give of your heart generously to others.  Proverbs 11:25

Remember that we are not the Christ.  John 1:19-28

 

Footnotes: 

  1. I recall the time in my life that I had only a tiny bit of food in my home. I had been through much difficulty and I was having trouble feeding my children. We moved into a new neighbourhood and the children on our street were coming over to play and get to know my children. Previously, before the trouble in my life, I would have been eager and glad to have shared our food with these children as they came to visit. But since the trouble and because we had so little food I was hesitant and even afraid to share the little we had. My heart had become pinched and narrow and I was losing my ability to be generous. Yet, I realized one day that I had a decision to make. I could share our one apple with the children because I knew God would take care of us, or I could keep the apple and not share it because I only had a little bit of food after all. I decided to be generous based on who God is and not on my circumstances. As I look back on that time I realize that it was a critical decision point in my life. Would I be generous based on my circumstances or based on the God that I served? I am certain that each of us are faced with these kinds of decisions all the time. I ask you, do you lead in generosity based on your circumstances or on who you know God to be?
  2. I learned to confess my fear this way from the Holy Spirit. One night I was asleep in my bed and a demon came and took my head in my hands and turned it so forcefully that my body turned over as well and I became unable to move. Immediately, the Holy Spirit said to me these three things, 1. Confess your fear, 2. Say Jesus, 3. Tell it to go in the name of Jesus Christ. I did these things as best I could at the time and the demon left me. Ever since, whenever I realize I am afraid, I simply speak out these words, “Jesus I am afraid.” I don’t try to pretend that I am not afraid and I don’t try to be unafraid on my own, rather, I give my fear to Jesus. In this way the fear is brought into the light and it loses it’s authority to affect us. Confessing our fear, simply saying it out loud that we are afraid, brings us into the light of God and we immediately feel the peace of God soaking into our hearts and minds. 
  3. To ground ourselves into each day it is important to stop what we are doing and to give thanks for the things immediately around us, the state of our heart in that moment, and the physical reality of our bodies. For instance, “I am thankful to be in Uganda as I write this. The day is cool and I have my sweater on — it feels good on my arms. The birds are singing and I am able to rest a moment. Thank you Lord.”
  4. When the Lord first began asking me to be poured out I was terrified. I thought he was telling me to become completely empty, and yet I found that this is not what he meant. God knows the principle that as we are generous with ourselves, as we pour out to others an expansive heart, compassion, listening, and kindness, that he is the one who fills us with these things. As we give out of our souls he pours into our souls. But his pouring in doesn’t work unless we are pouring out. We must become the river of the Lord’s living water. Once we begin to take risks to give  of our lives in a way that seems too much for us, we will find that God pours into us and all is fine. He supplies what we need as we give out as he asks of us.
  5. There is an organization in Los Angeles, California that feeds the people living on the streets. They make and distribute meals to some 600 men and women 4-5 days a week. They have been doing this for years. I spoke with the man in charge of this operation some years ago. I was realizing that with all that we do, even with our own great sacrifices and service to others, that it is never really enough. There is always more that can be done. And so I asked this man, “How do you continue on when all that you are doing is still not enough?” And he answered me this, “Do you recall where the priests and levites came to John the Baptist in prison inquiring into who he was, and John told them, ‘I am not the Christ’. Well, this is what I remember, I am not the Christ.” As we are in service within the Kingdom of God we must remember that we are not the Christ. We do what we can. We respond to the call of God upon our lives. We serve and we sacrifice as the Lord leads us. But then, we leave the rest up to God. For we are not the Christ.

 

2 thoughts on “Chapter 11. Overwhelmed

Leave a Reply