Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Overwhelmed Life - Part 1

by Shelley Rees

What does it mean to live an overwhelmed life? Typically, if I was feeling overwhelmed, this meant that I was feeling overrun by difficult or challenging circumstances. I was experiencing more activities than time, more expenses than money, more needs than my emotional resources could meet. Life seemed out of control and therefore, I felt out of control. With this mindset, I often did not respond well to these situations and allowedmyself to succumb to the full gamut of negative emotions—anger, frustration, bitterness, despair--and frequentlysinned in the way I vented these feelings onto my husband and kids. My understanding of an overwhelmed life was where circumstances ruled the day and overpowered me. But as I’ve grown in deeper revelation of the truth of the gospel, I’ve learned that my reality isn’t always the truth. My perspective of the overwhelmed life didn’t line up with the truth of Jesus Christ. In fact, his truth actually redefines the overwhelmed life and releases power to overcome in all challenging circumstances, and even allows me to experience joy in the midst of them.

So what's the truth about an overwhelmed life? In Romans 5, Paul writes that as sin came into the world through one man, Adam, so grace and life came through one man, Christ. However, in verse 15 he says, "But the gift is not like the trespass. In verse 16 he repeats his point saying, "Again, the gift of God is not like the result of one man's sin." He then goes on to explain that the gift of grace is overwhelmingly more abundant and powerful than the effects of sin ever were. He makes it very clear that the power of sin doesn't hold a candle compared to the flow of grace that is poured out to us through Jesus. So if this is true, then what power does sin or the effects of sin really have over me, the new creation that I am? If I live in a state of overwhelming grace, then sin is no more than an annoying external force attempting to get my attention and distract me from the truth.

Have you ever experienced one of those pesty gnats persistently flitting in front of your eye? Totally annoying, right? When this happens to me, this very small creature and its pesty behavior can capture all my attention as I attempt to swat it away. All my focus is on the aggravating behavior of such a tiny insect and its close proximity to my face, and I allow its "power" to prevent me from seeing the much larger world all around me. Like that gnat, sin poses as something really powerful but is completely insignificant in the surge of grace, favor, love and kindness that is toppled onto us.

From time to time, my husband, Dave, and I have faced significant financial hurdles that have put the big-time squeeze on our checking account. In the middle of this crisis, the voice of poverty pipes up, presenting itself as something large and looming, and starts speaking dreadful things about our future. It catches our attention, and then condemnation and judgment join in telling us how bad we've been with our money and start saying, "if only....". It feels awful, and it all begins to sound mighty powerful. But the truth is, Dave and I have a better word being spoken over us overriding poverty's pesty voice. We've been separated from our sinful past with all its sinful spending habits. We are completely free from our past mistakes and can now remain in peace believing the heavenly word of overwhelming favor, grace and provision that is overflowing into our home and overpowering all sensations of lack. We can watch as the Lord supernaturally redeems our finances and brings increase into our home. This is life in the surge of grace. This is the true overwhelmed life.


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