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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hey, soul...take a chill pill!

There are times when we think we have everything under control, then control seems to just escape us like all those grains of sand we might try to hold so tightly in our hand, but which manage to find tiny cracks from which they can slip through.  Try as we might, the best planning can sometimes end up in the most chaotic mess!  When it does, what we do with the pieces which are falling through our fingers makes all the difference in the world.  As our psalmist finds out, the attacks may come and the enemy look pretty foreboding, but the focus we maintain in that moment will either get us safely through, or will become our undoing.  When we focus on the circumstance, we get overwhelmed by the size of the issue at hand.  When we focus on the one who rules our lives (Jesus), he overwhelms the circumstance!  Whatever we maintain in our focus will be the thing which appears to be the "biggest" or most important!

Then I called on the Lord’s name. I said, “Lord, save me!” The Lord is good and merciful; our God is so kind. The Lord takes care of helpless people. I was without help, and he saved me. My soul, relax! The Lord is caring for you. (Psalm 116:4-7 ERV)

Helpless people - kind of describes each of us, whether we'd willingly admit it or not.  We are in the position of helplessness probably a little more than we might think.  If you don't believe me then simply think back to the last time you were the passenger in a vehicle of some type.  It may have been a bus, taxi, or a friend's automobile.  Now, how "in control" did you feel not being behind the wheel?  There are times when our span of control is entirely changed by the circumstance we find ourselves in.  When we are not "fully in control" it can put undue stress upon our hearts, minds, and spirits.  There are definitely times when we need to take that proverbial "chill pill" and just let go of the control so that God can take over.  In those moments we often find ourselves doing exactly what David did - we talk to our souls!  We "tell" our souls to just relax because it is like we have to talk our souls into a place of "peaceful submission" to someone else being in control at the moment.  In order to do this, there is an element of trust which must be attained - but trust isn't something we just muster up in the moment - it must be established before we "lose control".

I had one of those weeks last week where my "control" was going to be tested just a little bit.  In our healthcare industry, the various departmental agencies which ensure our regulatory compliance may "pop in" as they wish.  We live in a state of being continuously ready for any inspection of our processes and outcomes, so we shouldn't be caught off-guard when this does occur.  Have you ever noticed the most trying tests of your life come when you least desire them? We were down to two people in the department, with one member on vacation and another on family leave.  To make matters just a little more complicated, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer were both on vacation! So, it was just the two of us in the department, and there were other demands looming which needed to be addressed, as well.  Contracts had to be tracked down to get final signatures so we could continue to use a much needed service; reports on outcome measurements were due to the Board of Directors; the day-to-day teams which meet and need our help still had to occur; and the list goes on.  In our work environment we refer to this as "all the holes in the Swiss cheese lining up" - everything was in "perfect storm order" to allow for than unannounced survey!

Yep, it happened and we made it through!  Not because either of us maintained our own control over the situation, but because we knew a couple of things:

1) We could trust each other's ability to do their parts in the moment.  We had a plan and we knew how to "work the plan" to the best of our ability.  But...

2) I also knew who held us in his hands and would help to guide us through the stuff we might not have so well-planned!

There was a moment about two hours into the survey in which I had to step out, take a deep breath, then lean into Jesus.  No one really knows how much they need to do this until the moment gets a little crazy and you know your own resources are a little limited at the moment.  At that moment isn't the time to "develop trust" in the one who holds the key to getting you through the circumstance - you need to have established that trust ahead of time!  In those moments, you lean hard because you know the one who holds you up is never going to leave or forsake you!  You have that as an established fact in your mind, heart, and spirit.  Your soul may be trembling a bit, but when you speak those words, "My soul, relax", you lean into him and you are fully supported when you do.  Some of us need to take that "chill pill" more often and lean into his ability in our lives a little more than we do.  Others of us need to do a little less "personal management" of the circumstances of life and learn how God would handle the circumstances instead.  Either way, the relationship we develop with Jesus along the way is the most important factor in getting us through when the "holes line up" for the perfect storm in our lives.  Just sayin!