Have you ever been tense? Do we know what tension is? Where does it come from? I’m sure we can come up with a few examples. According to the dictionary, tension is the act or state of being stretched or strained, manifested in strained relationships, mental or emotional strain, a situation or condition of hostility, suspense, or uneasiness. Can anyone here identify with those signs of tension? How about the tension caused by a schedule packed too tight? You know the one where the agenda in your hand and clock on the wall are in direct conflict with the speedometer of your car. We rush off toward our destination, hoping for no red lights, and please God, no semis. Just when you think you’ve won the battle – the flashing strobe light behind you tells a different story. Now this is tension in its truest form. Tense!
Tension is one of the leading causes of headaches, back aches, and shoulder pain. The makers of pain reducing medication love tension; we do not. It’s a pain – literally! Tension is also responsible for anxiety, even debilitating anxiety. Tension can come from the worry cycle. Did you know that worry stems from control? It’s that overwhelming feeling of helplessness when a situation is outside our control. We obsess about it until we’re in a state of inertia, unable to act, but fear the outcome. Tension! Someone said 90% of the things we worry about, never happen. I think ratios are impossible to apply to anything of a subjective nature. Still, worry solves nothing. “Why pray, when you can worry?” or maybe we should turn that around and say “Why worry, when you can pray?”
Tension! Did you know tension can be good? Think of tendons in our arms and legs. If there was no tension we couldn’t walk or lift our arms. We couldn’t write or use a keyboard. Lack of just the right amount of tension to belts holding parts of our engine together is a guarantee our cars won’t run; they won’t even start. The result of poorly calibrated tension in the threading mechanism of sewing machines is a tangled mess of knotted thread. Tension, properly applied is good.
How do we coexist in a world with the reality of tension? Our schedules are always going to be over stuffed, many of our tasks are never fully complete, we get sick, circumstances are outside our control, we have regrets, we fear the future. Sound familiar?
While reading the Bible this morning, Psalm 39 shouted at me and made me realize how tension can so quickly become anxiety and how easily it creeps in to suffocate my joy. “My frustration grew; my anxiety intensified. As I thought about it, I became impatient. Finally I spoke these words: “O Lord, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life! Let me realize how quickly my life will pass!” If my ultimate goal is to live Jesus in front of people, I can’t let the tensions of this life render me useless. Isaiah 8:22 describes what can happen when I take my eyes off of God and forget to live out his purpose. “When one looks out over the land, he sees distress and darkness, gloom and anxiety, darkness and people forced from the land.”
That’s not what I want to portray in my life. I don’t want others to see gloom and anxiety. I don’t want to live in such a state of tension that I can’t be thoughtful of others and be a helper to them. If I’m going to be impatient, I want to be impatient to live my life reflecting the Light of the World. I want the tension in my life to be calibrated to the level of strength and motivation, but well within tolerance of God’s plan.
Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy.
My goal today is to provide an encouraging word that brings joy. I’ll start by seeking the Lord of my life.