“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.”

Psalms 23

 

While waiting for the red light to change, I noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. “Just when I thought I was winning the rat race, along came faster rats!”  My thoughts immediately drifted to the absurd schedule through which I had hurled myself that day. It was a schedule without margins or boundaries, every moment assigned to something or someone. My stress level grew with every task. My head pounded and my stomach churned.  I couldn’t wait to get home, change into my comfort clothes and escape to a quiet, peaceful place.

 

Stress, however, was eagerly awaiting my arrival at home! Children needed clean clothes, clamored for hot food, required transportation to various activities, begged for help with homework and longed for a listening ear and the loving attention of a mother’s heart.  Right!  I was ready to hand them off to my husband but he had experienced the same kind of chaotic day I had experienced and desperately needed peace and quiet for his own frazzled soul. 

 

Stress is a familiar and faithful companion, an unavoidable part of life.  It doesn’t matter where life takes us, we will encounter stress. Unless we learn to manage and deal with that stress – God’s way – we will surely find ourselves trapped, an easy target for the enemy.

 

A friend recently told me the story of a farmer who, as the owner of a large piece of land along the Atlantic seacoast, constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic because of terrible storms known to plague the area.  As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, applied for the job. “Are you a good farm hand?” the farmer asked. “Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man.  Although puzzled by this answer, the desperate farmer hired him.

 

The slight man worked hard, to the delight of the farmer. Then one night, the howling wind blew in from offshore, signaling the approach of a monstrous storm. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. “Get up! A storm is coming!” he yelled.  The man rolled over in bed and firmly responded, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”  Furious, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarps. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in their coops, the doors were barred and the shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand had meant.  He, too, returned to his bed to “sleep while the wind blew.”