by Sandra Hasenauer
This post is part of a Lenten Series. For other posts in the series, click on “Lent” in the list under “Find Posts About…” in the menu on the right.
The schedule of classes for my doctor of ministry program involves, at the moment, a looming deadline for the final paper for my January class in contextual analysis at the same time as I’m juggling assignments and paper deadlines for my spring class on Sabbath. And it just happens to be a particularly busy time at work and one during which a lot of family events are falling. All the readings I’m doing about Sabbath for class sound great, but feel unreachable. I’d like to think my professors would accept, “I’m sorry my paper is late but I was taking Sabbath” as an rationale but somehow I suspect not. I’m drinking chamomile tea by the gallon and have a “Tranquil” blend pouring out of my desk-top aromatherapy mister. Tastes nice, smells nice, not quite meeting the intended goal of peace of mind.
As I write this, I’m very aware that I’m not particularly unique. The details of what’s keeping me busy and stressed may be unique. But my guess is that most of you reading this post would be able to say much the same thing, filling in your own unique details: Family responsibilities, work responsibilities, school responsibilities, volunteer responsibilities….the list can go on. It’s not necessarily all bad stress, by the way. In my case, I love my family, I love my job, I love being in school. It’s all good stuff. It’s just a lot of it, all at once. Even good can be stressful when you’re juggling a bunch of it at the same time, right? Even worse if it’s bad stress, though–negative things, unhealthy things. That kind of stress really wears you down.
Lent is a time when we’re invited to pause and reflect on our relationship with God and with the rest of the world. If we’re running ourselves ragged dealing with the rest of the world, are we missing what’s available to us through our relationship with God? Where does peace of mind come from, after all? We get peace of mind through the priceless wine and milk we can have without money (Isaiah 55:1) and the shelter of God’s wings (Psalm 63:7). These powerful passages remind us that when we thirst for God, our thirst is quenched (Is 55:1). We rest in God and are satisfied as with a rich feast (Ps 63:5). When we cling to God, we’re upheld (PS 63:8) and God reminds us that God’s ways are what matter, not the ways of the world (Is 55:8-9).
You can be sure that more than chamomile tea and aromatherapy, I am resting on God’s strength, God’s wisdom, and God’s patience and courage to help me keep my head on straight every day. I pray the same for you. I pray that as you’re reading these words, and as you take a few moments to read Isaiah 55:1-9 and Psalm 63:1-8 in their entirety, you will reflect on all the strength and peace of mind that God has blessed you with in past moments and will invite those same blessings into your soul for whatever moments you’re facing now. May the remaining weeks of Lent bring you the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with the strengthening God.