The Little Things Kill Me

Matthew 6:34, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Was that you doing all that screaming outside this morning?” That was not the greeting I had expected as I walked in the door. But there they were. My family stood there looking at me, waiting for my reply. My wife continued before I could answer. “Savannah was in her room getting ready for school and she heard someone in the driveway screaming.” Two thoughts immediately ran through my mind. The first? I couldn’t believe that I had actually hollered that loud. (I did not scream. I hollered. There is a difference, thank you very much. Girls scream. Guys holler.) Secondly? I felt really, really stupid. I couldn’t believe I had been caught and was now going to have to confess my sin to my family.

The morning had started out poorly (stupid alarm clock). I woke up feeling tired from the night before. The football game had went into overtime and that put me in bed late (stupid Giants couldn’t win in regulation). On top of that I didn’t sleep well (stupid head cold). I stumbled through my morning rituals feeling rushed and wishing I could go back to bed (stupid job). Finally got everything ready and opened the front door only to be greeted by rain (stupid cluttered garage). Cold. Wet. Rain (stupid Georgia winters). I dashed back and forth between the car and the house trying to get everything loaded into the car without getting myself soaked in the process (stupid laptop, stupid lunch box, stupid umbrella).

Finally got in the car, started the engine, and flipped on the headlights. Only problem? No headlights. Climbed back out of the car and started fiddling with the cable to the lights (it has a short). As long as I held the cable, the connection worked and the lights came on. But as soon as I let go of the cable the lights went back out. Get the picture? The sun had not yet risen. Rain is falling. I’m tired. I’m wet. I’m cold. I’m aggravated. Not at all looking forward to the day ahead (stupid Monday morning meetings, stupid annual physical). And so what do I do? Great man of faith and wisdom that I am? Over 20 years of professional ministry as a missionary and pastor? I started hollering at the top of my lungs. No cursing. No swearing. No vulgarities. I just yelled. “AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!! WWWWWHHHHHYYYYY????? Lord, when will it ever end?”

Now, as most of you are probably aware, my outburst really had nothing to do with the headlights. Or the rain. Or my job. Or the bad night’s sleep. Or Eli Manning’s inability to complete a pass in the closing minutes. Yes, all those things combined together to become the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. But the real issue began much earlier. See, I struggle with stress. Increasingly so in these later years. Most of you know my story. You know about my son’s autism. You know about my wife’s cancer. You know about some of my own health issues. You know I am trying to work full-time while also attending school full-time. Well, this morning it just all came to a head. The weight of it all was more than I could bear. And so, at 6:00 am today I probably put the fear of God into all my neighbors. (I imagine they were looking out their windows, thinking, “Stupid neighbor.”)

Worry is at the heart of so much of my stress. I worry about my wife’s long-term health. I worry about my son’s limitations. I worry about my responsibilities at work. I worry about balancing school and work. I worry about failing. I worry about not doing good enough. I worry about not measuring up. I worry. And I stress. But there in the midst of my tantrum I heard the still small voice of the Spirit. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own.” At that moment the light went on. Literally. The headlight started working and I drove the entire 45 minutes to work in silence, prayerfully reflecting on my Savior’s promise. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

I don’t profess to have all the answers. Never have. And I never will. I’m just a guy who works at a paper mill and writes devotionals. I struggle. I fall. I fail. And at the present moment I am wrestling with stress. What I find amazing is that during this most difficult season the Lord refuses to release me from this blog. (Believe me when I tell you I have wanted to quit. Many, many times. Tired of the whole world knowing my struggles.) And so, today I am asking for your prayers. You don’t know me and we will probably never meet this side of eternity. But if you think about it, and if God lays it on your heart, say a prayer for this stressed out blogger today. These past few weeks have been tough (stupid stress). But I know that God is in control of it all. And I know that He is causing all things to work together for my good. And I know that through God’s faithfulness and your prayers I will make it through this season. Thank you. Take care and God bless you.