Not long ago, I was walking through an airport and noticed an area designated as a “Dollar minute, keep your shirt on” massage for weary travelers. As one who deals with constant inflammation of the joints and tissue in my back, this looked like a great deal. Normally, after preaching three sermons on Sunday, my back is so tight it takes a Shiatsu massager and four Advil, just to relax.
I’m a sucker for the newest gimmick designed to help me unwind. Those of us in the ministry know the stress and pressure of dealing with people. We’ve felt the sting of an unresolved conflict. We know all too well, the pain of watching members go out the back door because the disagreed with a decision we made. Those who say, “It must be nice to have a job where you only work one day a week,” have never been in ministry.
Tension is a fact of life. Everyone has it in one form or another. Some folks get stress related headaches. Others, like myself, find their back constantly tensed up. Whatever form it takes, it is there, in all of us. While a back-rub, massage or a few Advil might provide temporary relief, the stress is still there. What we need is a permanent solution. We need something that will get under our shirt and under our skin and go deep down to work out the stress in our soul.
King David lived with his share of stress. As a shepherd boy, he was constantly aware of wild beast threatening his sheep. He risked his life to protect his flock from silent, night predators. After being summoned to Saul’s court, he had to deal with the stress of Saul’s tension, depression and moodiness. Dealing with moody people can make a Goliath look small in comparison. For David, stress, adversity and pressure never ended. It followed him all the days of his life.
How did David deal with stress? We discover his secret in the Psalms. We find comfort in these songs of faith because they remind us of God’s sufficiency when life is falling apart. Many of the Psalms begin with an admission of tension, stress and adversity. Most end with a relaxed confidence in Jehovah.
Yes, I’ll still take a few Advil and look for the massager on Sunday nights, but I know these are temporary solutions. What I really need is a word from The Word. Stress points should remind us of Scripture points. These times of temporary anxiety and tension should drive us to time alone with God. What Advil will not do, the Comforter can. If you can’t afford a vacation, let the gentle breeze of the Spirit blow through your life. When you finish reading, why not take a stress break and massage your mind with the Word of God and absorb His joy in the midst of your pain. You’re in good hands, when you are in God’s hand.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.