branches cold conifers environment

Consumed

Reports are due.  Training needs completing.  Students require assistance on many fronts.  New school division strategies must be implemented.  Meetings to attend.  Massive emails to read.  Students need counselling and observation.  

I could make a very long list about what needs to be done in my teaching week.  Just when I think I have scaled one mountain, there are four more on the horizon.  I find myself unable to keep up with everything and so what is my solution – long hours to try to fit it all in.

It is now the weekend and the pile of work I brought home stares me in the face, taunting me with its necessity.  I know I need to tackle it to make the upcoming week more productive but I am at my limit.  

A teaching career requires many hours beyond those spent in the classroom.  I know that.  Normally I enjoy planning creative and engaging things for my students.  This year, with the burden of all the procedures, initiatives, and practices at a new school, the requirements pressed upon me are much greater than just planning lessons.

Do you have things pressing down upon you?  Maybe it is caring for an elderly parent or dealing with continual demands of an infant.  Perhaps your job is taxing or your relentless job search drains your well-being.  Poor health or life limitations might dominate your circumstances.  The list can get to be a long one.

What do I do when life starts closing in on me like this?  I am drawn to God’s amazing Word.   The Old Testament writer of Lamentations says the following:

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have HOPE:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:19-23 NIV)

This reminder is soothing.  There is no earthly task or demand that is outside God’s reach.  We have hope.  We might be disheartened or despondent, but we are never out of God’s realm of care.  

The writer in the above passage firmly remembers all that causes him to feel so low and hopeless.  What does he do?  Rather than dwell on them, he brings to mind God’s promises.  He changes his mind-set to focus, not on his trials and challenges, but on the Almighty God who sees him through whatever is going on.  

As long as we are on this earth we have challenges to face.  Whether these are big or small, they have the same effect – they cause us to focus inward on ourselves.  All that gets us is a loss of perspective.

Daily bring to mind the hope that only God can give.

In these early weeks of my teaching year I confess to a horrible case of looking inward, focusing on my long list of things that are causing me stress at the moment.  As long as I choose to point the direction of my attention to my troubles, my shortcomings, etc.  I will be consumed.  I lose my perspective.  I get short with people who interfere with all that I have to do.  I tackle my to do list with dread.  I cannot see beyond myself.

It is time to take to heart the words in Lamentations.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will bring to mind God’s wonderful promises of help and support.  It requires a daily giving over of whatever wants to consume my life to my Heavenly Father.  When it all rests with Him, I have hope.  

The blessings of God are “new every morning”.  That means that God gives us what we need for our day.  It doesn’t matter what is on the to do list or what obstacles come our way.  God is there amidst them with His gracious compassion to see us through.

Whatever is consuming you today, I pray that you find your way to the hope that God gives you.  May you gain His perspective on what is important and needful.

As for me, my school pile is going to sit for a bit.  I need a long walk in this gorgeous weather to restore my spirit and focus on what is truly God’s purpose in the job He has given me.  Only then can I truly have the perspective needed to do my job in a way that doesn’t consume my life.

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