God is not overwhelmed
My undergraduate New Testament professor — Dr. Polk — had this wonderfully entertaining habit: he would be reading a scripture passage to us, directly from the NRSV translation, and then suddenly he would burst into his own quirky paraphrase.
“[Jesus] said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him: Right you are, dummy!”
As silly they were, Dr. Polk’s paraphrases sometimes helped me remember the serious messages of scripture in the times when I needed them most.
I remember a moment during my senior year of college when I felt overwhelmed by shame. I’d made some mistakes; a close relationship was crumbling; I felt lost. Then, as if out of nowhere, one of Polk’s Paraphrases came to mind: “God knows you’re stupid, little lambs. But God loves you.” And I felt a rush of peace and acceptance. My professor’s silliness had provided me a pathway to healing.
The words of Jesus that Dr. Polk was paraphrasing are from this teaching:
“Do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”.(Luke 12:29-32)
Here Jesus brings up the worries of people who needed to focus on everyday survival: food, clothing, shelter. When these things feel overwhelming, Jesus said, remember: God is not overwhelmed. God is more powerful.
In that rough moment during my senior year, I felt overwhelmed by my own feelings of guilt and fear. When this passage came to mind, it felt like the Holy Spirit reminding me: God is not overwhelmed by these things. God is more powerful.
What sorts of things make you feel overwhelmed? Today, take a moment to remind yourself: these things cannot overwhelm God, and God is with you.
Now thus says the Lord…
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned,
And the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.(Isaiah 43:1-3a)
God of peace: I thank and praise you for each moment of life that you grant. When my days become chaotic, I often feel far from you and suffocated by my distorted sense of perspective.
Lord, your word has the power to calm the raging waters. Trusting in that word, I pray that you would breathe into my weary and anxious bones these words of peace: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Help me to remember that no matter what stressful situations I may encounter — you are Lord and I am your beloved child. Transform each moment of stress into an opportunity for me to use the gifts that you have given, and to reflect the joy that comes through your resurrection. Amen.
[Prayer from In Thy Light We See Light: The Valparaiso University Prayer Book]
Feb. 10, 2021
Rev. Katherine Museus Dabay serves as university pastor at the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University and takes turns writing weekly devotions with University Pastor James A. Wetzstein.
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A call to courage for 2021
- A charming tale for over-achievers
- A Lesson On Beans … and Being
- A New Place
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- A Time of Dust
- Acquiring a peaceful spirit
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Anastasis: the Greatest Story of God’s Saving Power
- Another kind of darkness
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- As if we needed a reminder
- Beacons of hope
- Better Together
- Blessings As You Go
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Fear of the Lord
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Getting through this together
- God is not overwhelmed
- Good Friday
- Grief & Graduation
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How do you keep from giving up hope?
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- Imagining Eternity
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In everything, grateful
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Jesus among us
- Killing off our future selves
- Knowing a Good Thing When We See It
- Lessons in fire building
- Let there be light!
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- Naming our demons
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- On the day after the night before
- Persistent and Extravagant
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Praying for Reconciliation
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Rest is Holy
- Right where we are
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Surprisingly Simple: Breathe!
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Trouble with Mammon
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You might be a Lutheran if…
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- WWJD? We already know
- Walking in the Light of Jesus’ Resurrection
- We had hoped
- We’re on a mission from God
- What do you do with your anger?
- What good is a shepherd?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When God uses something terrible for good
- When heaven & earth click
- When joy and sadness live together
- When stress overwhelms
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- When we are moved
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Won’t you be my neighbor?
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future