With summer nearing its end and I’m starting to dread yet another crazy school year. If only I could pack a few extra hours into each day—make that twelve—then perhaps I could maintain some semblance of sanity when everything around me turns chaotic.

Christ said he came to give me abundant life (John 10:10). He promised to grant me peace. So why do most days feel as if I’ve got one foot on a conveyor belt and the other on a treadmill—moving in the opposite direction?

I know my peace comes from the God of peace, but how can I live by the Spirit when life gets crazy?

One frantic morning, I woke up late only to rush headlong into one mess-up after another. I spilled coffee grounds on the counter, dropped my daughter’s lunch on the floor then stepped in it, effectively grinding banana goo deep into the tile. Before long, my surly mood turned contagious, and my daughter and I began to argue. It wasn’t pretty. Or Christ-like.

Grabbing my phone, a very unspiritual scowl etching permanent wrinkles in my forehead, I stomped toward the car only to find the tank was on empty. And I’d left my purse inside.

In more of a vent than a prayer, my heart cried out: Could this day possibly get worse, Lord?

God’s reply? Yes. But it can also get better, if you would but take the time to connect with me.

Spending time with God sounds counter-intuitive when the very thing we lack is time itself. And yet, attempting to navigate our day without the Holy Spirit’s help is like taking a road trip without programming the GPS. We might get on the road faster, but we’ll waste a great deal of time circling the back roads without getting anywhere.

Pause to consider the words in Psalm 139. Speaking of God and his infinite, intimate knowledge, David says:

“You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say before I even before I say it, LORD. … You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day passed.”

In other words, God knows everything! Every hurdle or stressor we’re going to face and every callous or self-defeating word we’re going to speak. He sees everything before the chaos hits. Going before and following behind us, with his hand of blessing on our heads (vs. 5), he longs to guide us through it all. If we would but tune our heart and ears to his gentle, ever-present Spirit, so that, wether we turn to the right or to the left, our ears will hear a voice behind us, saying, "This is the way; walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21).

One day, when my daughter was young, I determined to follow every nudging I perceived from God. My goal was two-fold: To learn to discern God’s voice, something I believed would come through practice, and to discover and follow God’s leading in every area of my life. It seemed silly at the time, to ask for guidance on such trivial matters such as when to mop the floor or which grocery store to shop at. But I was learning to commune with God throughout the day, regardless of what lay ahead.

I found my two goals worked together. By intentionally turning my focus to the Holy Spirit’s leading, I better learned to recognize his voice. Similarly, by responding with surrendered obedience when I sensed his leading, I became more sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life as your Lord and Savior, you already have the Holy Spirit living within you (Ephesians 1:13-14, Romans 8:9 and 11). But just like that GPS sitting on our dash, to receive the utmost benefit, we need to engage. The problem is, when we encounter stress, anxiety, frustration, and the general chaos of living in the 21st century, we often spend more time chasing fires than connecting with and surrendering to our power source.