Push, Pull, Come Along Side

5943-Alaskan-Eskimos-Canoing-Down-A-River-Clipart-Picture


3 December 2013
By Reverend Paul N Papas II

I recently walked into a store that had signs on door saying Push Pull – on the inside and outside of the same door. The instructions are confusing as they present two opposite commands at the same time, now you have to decide which command is better. Ever feel like you’re being pulled in opposite directions at the same time, now that is stressful.

This time of year can accentuate feelings of being pulled in opposite directions and not having enough time to get everything accomplished, increasing stress. We take great pleasure in finding the right gift for that someone special even though that creates stress.

Today’s life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands. For many people, stress is so commonplace that it is a way of life. Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price. You can protect yourself by recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.

The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.

The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV.

Beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.

In today’s spiraling downward world economy many people will not be able to enjoy Christmas as they have or would like to, which can be harmful stress to your body. How you react and manage yourself in that situation will make all the difference in the world to your health.

A study performed by the American Psychological Association indicated that Americans, particularly women, are more likely to experience increased stress during the holidays [1]. The same study also indicated that people are more likely to engage in comfort eating or sedentary activities like watching TV to manage their stress. I would suggest simply pushing away from the table, desk, or TV and go out for a walk. You’d be surprised when a little fresh air and exercise will do you.

You have something to give that won’t cost a lot, won’t create a lot of harmful stress and which can put a smile on your and someone else’s face. Whether you see their smile or receive a thank you or not, you’ll notice your stress has been reduced and you’ll experience joy – which is not the same as happiness. The prescription is simple: give of yourself and do something nice for someone else while not expecting anything in return. As you do something nice for someone else while not expecting anything in return you will not feel like you are being pulled in opposite directions, rather that you have come along side the person you are helping…

Many years ago a large family faced a prospect of no Christmas dinner and no presents for any of the children. A few days before Christmas three grocery bags were discovered on the porch by the front door. The bags contained a turkey and plenty of food for a grateful Christmas meal as well as several full books of S&H Green Stamps which provided the gifts. The greater gift given that Christmas to the anonymous giver and the grateful family is joy. The ones who received that grateful gift of joy are still paying it forward. For a brief moment in time the anonymous giver and the grateful family came along side each other, stress relived, and burdens were lifted.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours.

The stressful time we live in today seemed to make this post relevant. We could use the spirit of Christmas today.


Footnote
1] Berktold, Jennifer. Greenberg, Anna. “Holiday Stress”. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf on December 2, 2013.

Clipart by Dennis Cox: http://clipartof.com/5943

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/push-pull-come-along-side/

When You Feel Like Your Dreams Are on Hold

Shadia Hrichi

“Would I bring to the point of birth and not deliver?”

These are the words God pressed on my heart yesterday. I was in my living room during my morning quiet time. But my mind and spirit were anything but quiet. My journal was open as I furiously penned thoughts and frustrations, prayers and praises … dreams and disappointments. Page after page after page.

Hurricanes on the east coast, wildfires on the west, and COVID racing around the globe. So much chaos swirling all around us. Yet at the same time, here we are simultaneously trapped in our homes. Work from home. School at home. Church at home … What a paradox! Proverbs 27:1 warns us,

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

Isn’t that the truth? 

Truth be told, there are quite a number of Bible verses that remind us not to hold on too tightly to our plans. That can be hard when we live in a society where we are virtually tethered to our calendars.

But what if God gives us the vision? What if our plans are conceived by the Holy Spirit? What happens when we move forward in obedience only to feel like we just slammed into a brick wall?

God says in His Word that when we yield to Him, we will hear His voice saying,

“This is the way, walk in it …” and that He will lead us in the way we should go. (Isaiah 30:21, 48:17).

So we move forward. We step out in faith … then suddenly, wham!

A dear friend had just moved into a lovely home in the beautiful redwoods of Mount Hermon. She had been looking forward to having a quiet place where she could rest and God could give her son room to heal. Just weeks later, she was forced to evacuate because of approaching wildfires.

Another friend has a daughter who had been planning her wedding for over a year. Then COVID hit. They postponed the date. They postponed it again. Finally, she told her parents, “I just want to get married and move on with my life.” Others have lost their homes or had to say goodbye to loved ones from a distance.

As I was praying and journaling, I was struggling with my own disappointment over the LEGION Bible study video production dates being canceled at the last possible moment due to the fires. Add to that the enemy’s attempt to pile on guilt in knowing that my disappointment is trivial compared to what many others are dealing with.

The worse part of it is that no one knows when it will all end. In times like these, it is so easy to give in to despair, but that’s when we have to stop and say, “BUT GOD …”

BUT GOD knows. And God cares. In fact, long before He gave you the dream, He knew exactly how the path, timing, and outcome would look. This is when we need to remind ourselves that God is sovereign over all. In fact, this is one of the key themes in the teaching sessions I will be recording for the Legion Bible study. (Good grief, I need to heed my own words!) And so as I was praying yesterday morning, “casting my cares” on God about when or if the video production would happen, I heard God’s gentle voice, saying,

“Shall I bring to the point of birth and not deliver?”

In other words, if God has pressed a dream into my heart or yours, would He bring us to the edge of fulfillment only to abandon us there? NEVER. GOD IS FAITHFUL TO FINISH WHAT HE STARTED. The path may look different than what we imagined. The timing may not be what we had hoped. But if God gives us the vision, the OUTCOME is as sure as the tomb was empty on resurrection morning.

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8)

What dream are you trusting God to fulfill in this season?

Copyright © 2020 by Shadia Hrichi, author of LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues Me and HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me. Used by permission.

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