Klope: Holy stress relief!

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you thinking about God this week?

What is it around you that brings God to mind?

I tucked these questions inside the cover of my planner so I would be challenged as the week progressed. Visual cues such as these are helpful to people like me who tend to narrow our focus in times of increased stress. We’re willing to face the challenges and dig in. But we also want to figure it all out, tend to over-analyze events on occasion and press on with sheer will even when we feel weary. It’s a battle of letting go and letting God for a whole lot of us. Letting go of the stress of the moment and finding ways to allow God to share the worry. Calm the storm. Lower concern. Heighten awareness of his presence.

I’d been thinking about all these issues this week when the story of the Exodus came to me — that well-known trek into the desert Moses made with his fellow Israelites. If you have not thought about that story in quite some time, you may recall that the people of Israel had long been dominated by the powerful Egyptians, whose enslavement had caused great suffering and prevented them from worshiping God in freedom.

And least you think this is dry reading, grab your Bible and flip to those early chapters in the book of Exodus. You will rediscover that God went to great lengths, not only to convince the Egyptians that the Israelites should be released, but that he was a powerful God to be reckoned with.

To prove the point, God made his presence obvious. He sent to Pharaoh and his people a series of horrific plagues that include the Nile River turning to blood; frog, gnat, locust and fly infestation; the death of enormous numbers of livestock; outbreaks of boils on people and animals; hail storms; and unexplained darkness.

When Pharaoh continued to deny their release, God brought death upon every Egyptian firstborn, whether man or beast, during one long, terrible night. Only then did Pharaoh finally release Moses and his people.

Pretty powerful stuff. Even brutal and terrifying. But rather than focusing on all those astonishing plagues, perhaps the most interesting aspect of this account is the fact that Moses and his band of followers were willing to head into a desert with no map or plan, only the clear sense that God was with them and had worked mightily on their behalf.

I hold a burning desire to see the hand of God in my life in real and practical ways, don’t you? I want to have a clear sense — a blessed assurance — that God is working and moving with the same intensity today ... in your life and mine.

Not only do I long to see evidence of God, but I long to be like Moses. I want to have a heart that is wiling to try new things and go new places even though I may feel unworthy, unprepared and a bit untrusting at moments. I want discernment. Clarity. Strength. Hope. And some very good humor.

I want God to build in me courage, knowing that he may not reveal every step needed, but will give me all I need in little pieces. It all begins by simply thinking of him and actively looking for evidence that he is present and working.

Did you have a job interview and suddenly feel his presence at the very moment you felt the most insecure? Have you suffered a loss so great you have felt at moments you might break — if it were not for people who suddenly came to you in your time of need? Did you have one longed-for opportunity close, only to have another adventure drop into your lap?

Author A. W. Tozer encourages us to “constantly practice the habit of inwardly gazing upon God.” He goes on to explain that “even when you are compelled to withdraw your conscious attention in order to engage in earthly affairs,” there can develop within you a “secret communion always going on.”

And that blessed secret communion? It is nothing scary or mystical. It will be as wonderful as the name of a friend suddenly coming to mind, a prayer whispered with little thought, the lyrics of an encouraging song spontaneously springing forth as you drive in the car. It is having a surge of hope and insight. It’s seeing friends rallying around you, calling and visiting you. It’s people going out of their way to encourage and build your spirits.

May the joy of looking for God be both a conscious and unconscious joy and may we see God work in startling new ways this week, simply because we are looking.

Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and speaker who makes her home on Whidbey Island. Her award-winning column has run for 12 years in Western Washington newspapers. E-mail comments and speaking requests to faithfulliving@hotmail.com.

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