Stop, Breathe, Decompress
“I was swimming through the chambers of a hundred-year-old ship on the bottom of the ocean when my aqualung hose got caught in a net. No matter how much I struggled, I couldn’t get free. I began to panic and breathe way too quickly, using up more of my oxygen than I should. Suddenly, I heard a voice and felt a calming Presence of what I could only understand must have been God. He told me to breathe slowly to save air in my tank. Then he instructed me exactly how to get free.”
My ninety-year-old dad once again told this story last month when I saw him. This experience led him to faith in Christ when he was a young man. Though Dad has been telling this story for over sixty years, he still gets tears in his eyes when he tells it. As he always says, “Your old man would not be here if the Lord had not come to rescue me that day.”
This story always impresses me to have more faith in stressful times. When I begin to get anxious and my mind races to get free from my struggles, the Holy Spirit reminds me to stop, take calming breaths, and call on the Presence of God to walk me step-by-step to freedom.
Jesus tells us, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27). In fact, the stress of worrying so impacts our bodies that we are literally subtracting hours from our lives. Matthew 6:25-34 is like an aqualung of fresh air that can get us through our next challenge. Breathe in God’s words of hope. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear . . . your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matthew 6:25, 32).
What I am not saying is to sing the song “Don’t worry, be happy” and everything will be all right. Though I admit that I love this song with its catchy tune and bubbly advice, it sometimes is not enough to repeat over and over to yourself to “Be happy, don’t be anxious.” We need to consider the root of our anxiety. This question can lead to weeks of counseling or mentoring (which I have done and found very helpful), but the bottom line is to realize that the main point of Jesus’ speech in Matthew 6:25-34 is encouraging us to trust the very nature of the Father’s love for us. The Lord is powerful, generous, attentive, caring, and mindful of our needs.
Recognize that behind your fears is doubt that God can and will come through for you. He’s got your back. This is what brought peace to my dad and saved his life. He heard the voice of God and trusted that He would guide him through his crisis. Though most of us don’t audibly hear God, His Spirit can put thoughts in our minds to lead us in next steps to take. His Spirit can lead us to specific Scriptures that help us in our current situation. The Lord can intervene in our circumstances to work them out.
Application: stop, take calming breaths, and slowly speak out your needs to the Lord. Invite His presence into your situation. Let Him lead you step-by-step – relieving your fears and filling you with His joy and peace. He will not let you down. Our Father has unfailing love for you. Not only that, but He will move mountains for you because you are His precious daughter.