The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23:1 NKJV).
Friend to Friend
Stress happens … a lot. In fact, stress seems to be a constant companion in many of our lives. Yes, we live in a world filled with people and circumstances that seem to feed our stress. But I believe much of our stress is the result of an innate quest to love and be loved. The problems come when we look for that love in all the wrong places.
There is only one right place where we can find true love – in a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
It is really very simple. When we know God, we will know love. When we experience His unconditional love, we are then free to love ourselves and to love others. When Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives, He becomes our Shepherd – and that is all we need.
“The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1 NKJV).
I have personally discovered that it is downright frustrating and completely impossible to live the Christian life when you are not a Christian. I tried.
For years I desperately struggled to be a Christ follower with only head knowledge of who God was and wanted to be in my life. The result was a pitifully shallow existence with stress and frustration as my constant companions.
I grew up in a Christian home, attending church just about every time the doors were open. I sang all of the right songs, spoke all of the right words, and did all of the right things in front of all the right people. I fervently prayed that my works would validate my faith, and desperately hoped that by following the rules, I would please the Ruler. It was not until my first year in high school that the spiritual integrity of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for something more.
I wanted to know God.
I desperately longed for and needed to experience the unconditional love of God.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).
During a Saturday evening church service, I sat in my usual spot with the rest of my high school friends, clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. I was an active church member, a soloist, and the pianist for our worship services. I even directed a children’s choir.
I was a fake! How embarrassing to walk down that aisle, admitting to everyone that I’d been living a lie!
My mind argued that I knew all about God – and then the deeper truth of that argument hit me. Yes, I knew about Him, but I didn’t know Him.
God’s perfect love settles for nothing less than an intimate and loving relationship with His children. That night I met God. I surrendered all that I knew about myself to all that I knew about Him.
The course of my life was changed forever, but I quickly discovered that my problems did not magically disappear. I still had to deal with stressful situations. The difference was that God’s love preceded me. His power and strength surrounded and sustained me as I lived each day. And that made all the difference in my stress-filled world.
Knowing we are loved fosters contentment and peace in our hearts, and when our hearts are filled with peace, there is little room for stress.
Father, thank You for the peace that comes from knowing You. Help me remember that no matter what comes my way, You are with me. When I am tempted to worry, give me the strength to choose faith over fear. Teach me Your ways, Lord, and empower me to walk in them.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
On a scale of 1-10, how much stress do you deal with? Are you ready for a challenge that will change your life? Read Psalm 23 every day for one month. Then check your stress level. I would love to hear how this exercise impacted your life. I’m just an email away!
More from the Girlfriends
Need help dealing with stress? Get Mary’s book, Escaping the Stress Trap, and learn how to control anxiety in your life. A verse-by-verse study of Psalm 23, Escaping the Stress Trap offers practical steps you can take to lower your stress level. Great for both small group and personal study.
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Need prayer? Email our Prayer Team Director, Ginger Meador. We would love to pray for you!
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Thank you for this message. This is exactly what I needed to read today.