When Overwhelmed, Distracted, Frenzied, What to do, What to do?

So many things to think about, so many things to do, so many things to read, so many viewing options, so much world conflict, so much local trouble, so many broken souls, so many fractured lives, too many broken promises, too few believable voices, too many options at the grocery store, so many restaurants to enjoy, so many toxins in food and environment, too few reliable sources of anything, so much disappointment through experience, yet so much hope in youthful vigor, too few stable anchors, but then only One is needed.

Take a breath!

Most generations concur: ” It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Charles Dickens juxtaposes extremes in his famously exhausting while invigorating, opening serial sentence of A Tale of Two Cities. In my exhausting but not invigorating opening serial phrases ending with a clause, I scan my cluttered  vicissitudes.  These are the weights that so easily entangle  me (Hebrews 12:1).  I have been considering so many noisy topics and themes to explore in my life and my posts so that I’m overwhelmed and paralyzed. When life overwhelms, how can a liver live and a  writer write? Thoughts-words become mazes seeking some cathartic end – a purpose.  So, I’ve avoided you, dear JNC. But here I am, ready to dig through a tunnel or two in search of a horizon.

Good morning!  While my fingers have been sliding over my keyboard, the pink dawn rolling over the Mingus Mountains sends gracious rays through my living room, informing me that morn has come and I need not search for that horizon. It has found me out. Sadness can slide away with the hopes of this new day. Hope is a tenacious thing nestled in my DNA.  I will not let overwhelming, weighty distractions drive focus altogether from me. I can choose to silence the din and discover some harmony.

Here are a few, narrowed good thoughts for the day:

1.  Choice is power. I choose to enjoy a few good yeses. Yes, I’ll have some hot, chai tea right now.

2. Yes, I have fascinating stacks of books (and magazines and online sites) to explore, but I can shuffle a few good reads into one priority stack.

3. Yes, so many local needs cry out, but as one very limited person, I can serve one neighbor today.  I’m scheduled to aid her at her garage sale for a few hours today, offering another set of eyes to protect her things, to engage in chatty conversations with visiting scanners and buyers, and to “man” the place while she takes a few quick breaks. This is real life; forget conceptual contemplation. Be kind to the person in front of you. This is a good, good “yes.”

4. Yes, at least complete a draft of this post before showering, so you can feel a sense of accomplishment, which makes life seem less cluttered.

5. Yes, recommend three books in your priority stack to your readers. Some are curious about what reads are distracting you.  Okay, here are three good reads:

Ooo, Ooo!  This is so good.  The Hidden Smile of God,  by John Piper (2001). The subtitle should sufficiently intrigue you: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd.  This three-biography narrative can richly feed today’s souls on the soul-food and stories of yestercentury’s Christian brothers.

Ahh! Hmm! Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, by Paul David Tripp (2002).  Subtitled  People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change, this book offers outstanding guidance regarding how the body of Christ as individual laypeople can interact, becoming wise and kind counselors of one another. It will help you to face yourself squarely and Christ-graciously, and will help you to be a true and beneficial friend to your friends.

Ohhh, yes! Trusting God, by Jerry Bridges (1988).  No subtitle, so I’ll give you a substantial quotation.  “Any time that we are tempted to doubt God’s love for us, we should go back to the Cross. We should reason somewhat in this fashion: If God loved me enough to give His Son to die for me when I was His enemy, surely He loves me enough to care for me now that I am His child. Having loved me to the ultimate extent at the Cross, He cannot possibly fail to love me in my times of adversity. Having given such a priceless gift of His Son, surely He will also give all else that is consistent with His glory and my good.”

What a quotation! Jerry is encouraging us to lead ourselves (following the Spirit) with our minds — to take our thoughts-emotions-attitudes captive to a reasoned, biblical view. How interesting that faith is reasoned-faith, not fluff-faith, not wishful thinking.

This is “doing theology” by shaping our response to our circumstances through our biblical philosophy of life. This makes conceptual, abstract thinking powerfully practical and concrete. This is Christ-transforming — being personally re-shaped into Christ-likeness through the crashing intersection of my daily life with my biblical worldview. Real stuff here.  Dropping the clutter of overwhelming distractions, the entangled weights begin to peel off. The frenzy subsides. The warming Son shines on my rising horizon.  This is the day. . . .


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