Overwhelmed

Jennie Allen
November 05, 2019

Jennie Allen

Bible teacher, founder of IF:Gathering
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Okay, wherever you are right now, I want you to raise your hand if you feel stressed or overwhelmed. I know it's probably awkward if you're sitting in your office or on the couch by your family, but I want you to do it. Do it because I want you to own it. I am writing to you today because if you just raised your hand, you're stressed. You're overwhelmed about something or about lots of things. 

I think this is an addiction in our culture right now: busy-ness. We are all so busy or at least we act like we are. No matter what your schedule is during the day, you're going to feel busy at the end of the day because your brain has done so much. You have thought about so many different things. We are all sick with being overwhelmed, and it's about unanimous that we all are stressed. So what are we going to do about it and what does God have to say about it?

A GOOD WAY TO LIVE

The foundation of what we believe about God is the very most important thing about us. Yes, because it shapes our eternity, but it also shapes our every single minute and are every single day and our every single relationship. So how we think about God matters, and we're going to talk about it as it has to do with decision-making, rest, and what it means to make a life that is well lived.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.

- 1 Peter 4:7-10

Peter is laying out a good way to live. He's saying, listen, be clear minded. Make good decisions so that you can have time and margin to pray and so that you're going to have time and space to love well and to use the gifts that God's given you in the short life. These are the three simple things that he's laying out as a good stewardship of life: prayer, love, and using our gifts.

MAKING TIME

The number one reason women say that they're not using their gifts, that they're not loving their neighbors, that they're not praying is because of time. They're too busy. But yet the scriptures tell us that that is what we're supposed to be about, all of our lives. It's what it's supposed to be about. And we don't have time for it because of what, what has invaded our time. We are now living, spinning out, without time to do the three most fundamental things that God's given us to do on earth. I think it's because we let our lives happen to us instead of building the life that God has called us to. We've got to start making better decisions, and we've got to start submitting those decisions to and through the filter of knowing and loving God. 

If you are somebody who is overwhelmed because of your schedule, you're going to notice yourself starting to say things like, "I'm good, I'm just busy". It's part of our soundbite responses to people. We don't even think about it. I believe changing this is actually very practical and simple. It's just quitting things. I mean, it really is scheduling rest, scheduling margin, and saying no a lot. But to do that, you've got to look at your life and go, what's important? What am I doing and why am I doing it? What do I need to be doing, and what do I not need to be doing?

MAKING CHANGES

I'm going to mama bear you a little here because we need to be the bosses of our lives. We need to quit being the victims of our lives, and we need to start being the bosses. And I have to constantly remind myself that I am living out the choices I made. Some of you might be living out the choices you made four years ago, but we're always living out the choices that we make. And we can always make a change. I've really seen this in the last year when I decided I am losing my soul. I am a master to things that I've created rather than enjoying and delighting in creating with God. So I appointed new leaders over those things, and I truly let go and backed up, which is always hard for a leader to do and still is for me. But I have gotten my soul back.

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I also looked at my life and what God's word says about rest. And true rest starts by understanding I am not necessary for anything. I am not necessary for anything. My life is short, my life is finite. I am not necessary. I'm able to just say, you know what? I am a small part of this bigger plan. And it is a great thing to be a part of a bigger plan. None of us actually want to be the center of the universe. Our souls weren't built for it, and we are exhausted by it. So when we play our small part, we realize we're part of a family and a team and a body that's working together. It's so much more fun. It's how we were meant to live and that Christ is the head and the center. He gets the credit and the glory and each of us are serving him by bringing our part to his story.

SAYING NO

I say no to things as a default answer. It's a rule in my life. I say no unless I am absolutely compelled to say yes. So we've just joined a new church, and I am so excited to be there and to serve it however I can, and I've really wanted to say yes to anything that they want or need. And recently, someone that I respect so much called me and asked me for something that I could not do, but I couldn't say no. I couldn't because I didn't want to let that person down. I want her to like me, and I want to serve her and be a good teammate and friend to her. I technically could have carved out the hour for her, but it would have caused chaos in my family that night, in my day, and in my week based on every other commitment I had. 

After about a week and a half, I finally I was like, there's just no way. I do not have a peace about it. I don't need to do it. So Chloe calls me back after deciding it was a no because this friend asked if I could do it the next week. And I could. I thought it was a one time thing. I sweated and stressed and caused chaos in my mind and in my life for like 10 days when all I had to do was just obey the first thing, which was to say no. 

It's not a big deal. It's not the end of our relationship, and I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to meet everybody's desires and demands for our lives. Even with our kids. I thought we were going to scar them forever because I have to miss games and all these things. But none of my kids would say, "Mom, I'm so disappointed that you did not go to my game". All of my kids would say, "Mom, I love what you do. I get it, and I want you to do what you love to do and what God's called you to do". And we have this mentality in our family that we support each other. We are for each other. We are not the center of each other's universes. God is. And where obedience is there is thriving. And I think what my kids know at the end of the day is that I'd rather be at their game, but I'm obeying God to do what he's called me to do on this day. 

SURRENDER AND OBEY

I think we've got to first start with the reality that life is hard, and it's hard work. Again, this is why I always come back to worldview, and how we view God in our lives matters most. Because if that gets right and fixed in our head, then how we spend our time is going to get fixed in our head. And so when you think of eternity and you think of words like "run your race" and "work out your salvation", these are very intense working words, right? You see a God who from the very beginning, before the fall, created work we cannot wish away. 

Every single minute of our lives is surrender and obey. It is the way we are meant to live. It is how we're supposed to breathe, how we're supposed to parent, how we're supposed to do the PTA, how we're supposed to do an office cubicle. Like this is it, we surrender and obey. Now what we're doing with our days is the platform, the environment with which that obedience usually takes place. So basically what are your gifts? What are your passions? Who are your people? What are your places? You lay out all these things, and you start to see this is the place and these are the people that God has for me to love, to pray for, and to serve with my gifts. 

You know, ultimately we're all looking for purpose. But that purpose is usually found in the DNA of our everyday lives. It's not that we need to go overseas or change our job necessarily. There are times that a Holy Discontentment kind of rises up in us, and we need to listen to it because God's trying to move us. God gave me specific gifts to equip the saints for the work of the kingdom. But perhaps you're the Saint on the front lines that needs to be equipped so that you can help someone feel their way to God in your office, workplace, on your college campus, or in your classroom today. That is the story of eternity. And if we're doing that and thinking that way, then what we do with our time is less important. 

WHAT'S TODAY, GOD?

We'll all have our own reason to say no. Our own reasons to say yes and what the power of a few voices help us. And what we'll do is we'll sit down with those voices and fill them in big picture on our lives of what's happening in that year. And then we'll kind of bring him things regularly as well. It's small group right now. I remember going to an event recently and meeting this amazing woman, Dr. Cynthia She's opening up a home for 120 women who have come off the streets, and she's hosting these brunches, and we're sitting there wondering, how do you do all of this stuff?

You can tell she's not tired, she's full. I asked her, how do you do it? And she said, I wake up every single day and I say, what's today, God? Don't ever have an excuse any day of your life for not saying, "what's today, God?" And, and he'll show up. He shows up in the mundane, and he makes the mundane purposeful. So today, wherever you are, ask God, "what do you want today?" And he'll surprise you.

So here's one last hard question for today: what can you quit? You can quit something today. Just quit it. Like cancel it. Call up someone. Say, I can no longer volunteer here. Or you can quit something today and simplify, create a little more margin. And with that margin, you can go to a bookstore, go to a coffee shop, take your Bible, take a journal, take your headphones and spend an hour with God. And I promise you it will not be a waste of time. It will steady your soul and it will give you wisdom for the next decision you've got to make.

Jennie Allen

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