Ever feel like escaping the stress? Ever feel like buying a cabin up north and just getting a simple job and escaping the stress of life in the cabin in the woods? Or maybe buying a simple house in Jamaica and spending most of your days on the beach?
The stress around Shepherd of the Hills seems to continue to rise. First, our contemporary worship leader left. Secondly, our DCE, Hannah, took a call to Missouri. Third, our beloved lay minister, Mark Peters, went to be in the presence of the Lord. Fourth, we voted to tear down a third of our building and rebuild, bigger and better. A good thing but still stressful. Then, our Director of Worship Arts resigned. As of Monday, June 17, it will be down to Pastor Steve and I as full-time ministry workers at Shepherd of the Hills and we started with 6 at the beginning of the year. All the transition. All the change.
Maybe there’s a lot of stress in your life too. Maybe things haven’t gone as you planned this year. Maybe your dealing with a difficult marriage or a difficult child. Maybe you have unexpected health issues or unforeseen expenses. Maybe things are imploding at work or in your relationships. God never promised life to be easy but he did promise to always be present with us.
It can be tempting to escape when the stress mounts. Stress can cripple us and even leave us with emotional scars at times. We can become more fearful, anxious, depressed and even angry. It can really hurt us, and it’s no different with a church.
But stress can also cause us to rely more on each other as a church. It can cause a church to step up and support each other through the stress, through the changes, through the transitions. Just like a family can become closer as they go through stressful times so can a church.
I am choosing not to let stress, anxiety or worry win. I am choosing the joy of the Lord.
In Matthew 11:28 we are reminded “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus reminds us to come to Him, not to do it all on our own. He reminds us to trade our stresses for his joy, our worries for his strength, our fear for his assurance, our anger for his peace.
I am praying more. I am sharing my burdens with friends more. I am leaning on others for support and help more. I think that’s what God wants me to do and I think that’s what God wants us to do as a congregation also.
One of the most stress-free and peaceful scenes in my mind is a person fly fishing by a stream. He or she is enjoying the trickle of the stream, the chirp of the birds, the swish of the fishing line. But even someone fly fishing on a beautiful July day can be dealing with mosquito bites, fish not biting, stress from work or depression from a difficult marriage. There is no where to escape the stresses of life ACCEPT in the arms of Jesus for His yoke is easy and his burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)
During this stressful time at Shepherd of the Hills and maybe in your own life too, let us hold on to Jesus.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt was installed at Shepherd of the Hills in June of 2012.