Buffeted by a gale on a recent crossing of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Andrew and Benjamin "flew" into the wind-- But when we're blown off our feet by the press of life, it isn't so much fun . . . What do you do when you're overwhelmed?
It doesn’t take extraordinary stresses to overwhelm the soul. The accumulation of daily needs, piled one atop another, can smother the most stalwart. Demand exceeds our capacity. We must do what we cannot.
Symptoms vary: Quick, sharp breathing—we start to panic. Dull insensitivity—we plod on without knowing where we are going. Depression—we lose hope that the journey will ever end.
Sometimes we just want to cry.
David knew the feeling. “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint (overwhelmed). Lead me to the rock that is higher than I . . .” (Psalm 61:1–2).
“When I’m at the end of my tether, when I can’t do what must be done, when my capacity is insufficient for the demand—I cry to You.”
“You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy” (Psalm 61:3).
David struggles along a valley footpath in the twilight. He is no match for the enemy. His hands, skilled in battle, are not enough to save. His strategies are not keen enough to outwit his foes. His plans are not wise enough to carry him through. But when he looks up, he sees a welcome Shelter, a Great Rock towering above him.
“O God, I would come to you, I would shelter in the embrace of Your everlasting arms. But my strength is spent. I cannot climb out of the valley to enter the fortress of Your refuge.”
David is like a man who searches for water in the blistering desert sun and catches a glimpse of a cool oasis. If only he could crawl beneath the shade of the overhanging palms, he would plunge into the water, drink his fill, and recline with his feet still soothed by the water’s cool touch.
But his strength is all gone. Must he die with the vital water within view, but out of reach? The water must come to him.
“O Rock, come to me,” David cries. “I am overwhelmed and cannot see my way. My frayed emotions have worn through. My ability to do for myself is gone.”
And that cry is the beginning of the way out.
David, a man like any man, had to plunge to the full depth of his need before he was eligible for divine aid. He knew he needed a Fortress, a Refuge from his troubles—and he knew that he was too weak, too faint, to reach that Refuge on his own. So he cried out to God . . .
Much of the time, I find that I scheme and strategize when facing obstacles in life. And some of that planning is good: God gave reason and intelligence to use. But when I’m out of answers and don’t have energy to plot my course—that is the time to beg God to come to me, to lead me, stumbling and weak, to the Rock that is higher than I. In one sense, my Rock must come to me.
Sounds fantastic? Paul describes the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness: “ . . . they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (I Corinthians 10:4). Jesus, the Rock, followed His people; they drank from Him. Through forty years of punishment, wandering in the wastelands, God did not forsake His people. He followed them with life-giving refreshment; He met their needs at every turn. Their Rock came to them.
Overwhelmed? Join the chorus of God’s people through the ages: “Come to me, my God. I’m overwhelmed; my strength is gone; I cannot see the way. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”