Julie and I just returned from our one week escape into the Pacific Northwest. It is amazing to me how much time it takes to wind down from my hectic life, and how awesome it is to actually sit down each day to reflect on the beauty God has given us on this planet. It seems that life for a yuppie like me consists of a flurry of workouts, phone calls, e-mails, internet, and TV becomes the relaxation point in the day. Oh how I look forward to time off.
I know I have been stuck in this place of breaking down the complexities of life into simple truths lately. I think this is because my life has seemed very complex this year with all that is going on. Sometimes I feel like God is opening a door just to close it, and in the meantime, I am trying to force my own doors to open. My mind never shuts down which makes it worse, and I tend to play a ton of ‘what if’ scenarios through my head about every situation you can think of.
I had dinner with a business colleague just before my trip. The man is a solid Christian and was talking about how his Faith makes him different from everyone he works with. “I’m always happy.” He said, “People can’t figure it out, but it is because I am saved.”
Now you can translate ‘happiness’ to mean a number of different things, but what I think he was eluding to was the peace he has no matter what the situation he is faced with. His peace comes from the Faith that all is taken care of, and at the end of the day God is really in control.
I took this thought with me into my trip. In situations where I began to stress out a little bit, I took a step back and just let the world turn round. And you know what? Everything worked out. God really was taking care of things!
One of these situations was in Vancouver. Julie and I arrived in Downtown from the ferry terminal, and began to make our way toward our hotel. We were shocked at the crowds of people and number of cars Downtown. There were people everywhere and we were getting nowhere. Turning the corner in our rental car, we found out that our whole street that our hotel was on was roped off making it impossible to get where we needed to be. We were both hungry which didn’t help things at all. We finally found a police officer that told us the international fireworks competition was that evening, literally right in front of our hotel. 300,000 people would be there.
I was kicking myself for booking the hotel across the downtown core. Julie had suggested another hotel the week before that would have kept us out of traffic and put us closer to shopping and the popular ‘gaslight’ district. Instead, I was the smart one to book this other hotel which appeared to be closer to the huge city park.
Frustrated with the situation, we took a deep breath and asked the cop what to do next. The police officer opened up the barricades to let us through to our hotel. Battling through the crowds, we made to our hotel to find one parking spot remaining right in front of the hotel!
We got out, checked in and immediately started thinking about food. Not an easy task to find a restaurant to eat at with 300,000 people milling around. It was 9:15 PM and the fireworks were supposed to start at 10. “Let’s try the hotel restaurant”, I said.
What do you know? One table left. Food is served, check is paid, and we walk out the front door to see the internationally renowned firework show at 10PM. We could never have planned this any better if we would have planned for a year!
Case after case on our trip, God provided amazing things for us. No line at the Seattle Space needle. A parade in Seattle two blocks from our hotel. Un-crowded hiking trails in Olympic National Park- just to name a few. All of these as reminders that God is there looking out and he is really in control.
The trick for me is taking this lesson and attitude from vacation and applying it to my everyday life. It sunk in on the flight home, that the majority of my stress and anxiety is self afflicted. The second I got on the plane I began stressing out about work, training, and all the stuff I had to do when I got home. “Stop” I told myself. “It will all work out”
I think the simple truth in all of this is that little thing we call Faith. How much do we take what God has done in our lives, and place Faith in him to provide and take care of our future? Do we apply this Faith to the point where we don’t worry about everyday stresses that plague our non-Christian counterparts?
I have to say I am a long way from always ‘being happy’ and living ‘stress free’, but God is showing me that sometimes I have to consciously step back, make a choice to be happy, and trust that he really does have it all under control. Perhaps someday soon, people will take notice that I too always appear happy.
In the words of Jesus himself: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)