Weekly message from Cypress Church: Finding calm in 2020

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I was walking on the beach with my wife this past week and we were doing a bit of thinking. We were thinking and discussing these past few years as we looked forward to whatever God has for us in the years to come. See, over these past few years, we have had a lot going on in our family. Kristi completed her master’s program. We lost both our moms, Kristi’s brother, and a grandchild (still born at 16 weeks). Seven other grandchildren were born. Kristi had major surgery. Kids got married, made various moves in their housing and jobs, and I finished my doctorate. Add in the stress of a teaching job, a pastor’s life, and the normal stresses of life in our world today, and life can be far from calm. Now yes, others have or are experiencing more stressful life conditions and others less, but for us at least two major mind-consuming and life-intensive issues have subsided. One of those issues was my ailing mom slipped into eternity and she is now at peace with her Lord. Though she was in a wonderful facility that could care better for her 24/7 needs, her care and well-being were constantly on our minds along with regular visits and managing her frequent medical needs. The other issue was completing all the necessary requirements for completing my doctoral degree. It was a five-year process of reading over 110 books and an abundance of articles, writing numerous papers, attending two weeks of residency for three years, researching four case studies (including field visits and interviews), interviewing four city mayors, and writing 192 pages of a dissertation (which included many rewrites and edits).
As we talked, hearing the crashing of waves and watching the ebb and flow of the surf, we were encouraged that with all this stress and intensity, we still were fairly emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy, but we both were feeling the effects of chronic stress and hurry. We felt the need to take more initiative and find calm in the year 2020, to as Psalm 34:14b says, “seek peace and pursue it.”
So how do we find calm in 2020? Scripture encourages us to pray. Prayer not only accomplishes a lot (See James 5:16) but as we pray, an amazing calm comes over us.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There is no secret way to pray or special key words or phrases; prayer is just talking to God. It’s having a conversation with Him, letting God know your thoughts, feelings, hurts, struggles, joys, triumphs, frustrations, questions, and everything you would share with a loving Father that greatly enjoys your company. Imagine Him asking you with a smile on His face and twinkle in His eye, “Tell me all about what you think and feel.” And though He knows what you will say (see Psalm 139:4), He can’t wait for you to say it. Try it, you will feel that sense of calm come.
As well, when we pray the Bible encourages us to cast our cares on Him.
1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
It is the act of giving our issues to God, to ask for God’s help and trust He will be working in ways we don’t understand.
This of course takes trust, another challenge from the Bible: to trust God for direction.
Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Also, a trust in God’s care.
Psalm 23:1-4 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalms 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
There is much in life to create hurry and stress, yet there is something to be gained in finding calm. I am going to pursue that more in this new year of 2020. Will you join me?

Church can be a great resource in finding God’s calm. If you don’t have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches. Every Sunday we learn from the Bible and seek to know God more. We would love for you to join us. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net. You can even attend one of our live-streaming services (see http://live.cypresschurch.net/).