Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ I Kings 19:11-18.
Devotional Scripture ~ Philippians 4:6-7.
Often when asked "How are you doing?" my response is one word - stressed. It is hard to be pastor, parent, partner. It is hard to have a job and maintain a household. It is hard to have friends as an adult because I open my eyes in the morning and close my eyes at night and somehow between 16 and 18 hours have lapsed and they were all filled, yet I do not exactly recall how!
And then - for fun - or not so much fun - let's just sprinkle some pandemic on top.
And by sprinkle I mean all.out.deluge.
Stress is a viscous cycle - a viscous spiral. What if this happens...what if that happens... Around and around the thoughts go and they take with them our discipline for self care - eating a balanced diet, being active, drinking water, sleeping through the night.
Just like our God does not intend our lives to be ones where we grit our teeth and bear it - I also believe our God does not intend our lives to be overwhelmed and defined by stress.
In our devotional scripture from Philippians, Paul counsels the faithful that through prayer they can release panic - stress! - and receive peace.
The New International Version translation of these verses ends with "...and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." The Common English Bible offers this translation, "then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus." Reading the word safe connected, for me, the relationship between sharing the concerns of our hearts - the stresses of our lives - with God and security. The vulnerability that precedes and is necessary for sharing invites closeness and intimacy into any relationship - most importantly our relationships with God. When hearts and minds are safe, we function passionately and productively. The freedom resultant of experiencing security from and with God welcomes us into the space of doing what we are to do and trusting God to do what God does.
Reflection Question: Write down what you are stressing over right now. Ask God to take away your burden and please it with God's peace.
Prayer: “Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom, sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom, by waters still, o'er troubled sea, still 'tis his hand that leadeth me. He leadeth me, he leadeth me, by his own hand he leadeth me; his faithful follower I would be, for by his hand he leadeth me.”* Amen.
*"He Leadeth Me," The United Methodist Hymnal 128.
Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal