How to Know When it’s Time to Panic – Mark 4:37-40

Being a new parent was often stressful and confusing. I didn’t know how to juggle decisions about my infant’s care, like when to hold him and when to let him fall asleep on his own. And where should I draw the line for my older children—between intervening in their disagreements and letting them manage without my help?

I may have been overly concerned about doing everything right at first, but I did relax in my role over time. I enjoyed learning and growing with them.

One of my lessons came while chatting with a young mother in her yard one day. As she turned to go into the house I saw her little girl fall off her tricycle and start whimpering. The child clearly wasn’t hurt badly, looking around to see if mom was nearby before letting out a howl. Before the girl drew her next breath mom was running to pour out comfort with hugs, kisses, and coos in a way that I thought was overdone.

But I took her actions to heart and made a deal with God.

I knew there would be times when I needed to act quickly to protect my children or others from danger, so I prayed, “Lord, I don’t want to be overprotective or fearful, but I also don’t want to be foolhardy. Would you tell me when it’s time to panic?”

I finished my prayer asking him to help me listen to his warnings.

I’ve had many situations where the plan to stay calm until I’m told to move quickly worked out well for me, one being when I encountered a large snake in Africa (that’s a story for another time). It’s comforting to know he’s in the boat with me, helping me understand what I should do during life’s storms.

And a great windstorm arose, waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Mark 4:37-40 ESV

I’m happy to announce that my most current devotions have been released in the Summer 2021 issue of the Warner Press devotional magazine, Pathways—Moments With God. Yes, I’m a little late letting you know, but here’s where you can order your copy.

Comfort for When Life is Out of Control – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I went through a season of depression when I felt frightfully out of control. I didn’t like being forced to admit such vulnerability, but life became so dark that no amount of positive self talk, counseling, Bible study, declarations of faith, or prayer could keep me steady.

What can we do when important aspects of our lives are out of our control?

Nothing helped. At times I was so distraught I thought I might drive my husband and family away. After all, who would like to come home to an angry, tearful, accusing spouse?

The slippery slope

What scared me most was realizing I might be fine for weeks, my normal, contented heart trusting in God and serving others, but then the clouds would gather, blocking rational thinking and making my foundation slippery.

Was I on the path to becoming the crazy woman people talk about, living alone in a shack somewhere?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV

One day I prayed, Lord, you are my rock, but sometimes I’m powerless to hang on. I’m convinced I’ll be swept away if you don’t have a firm grip on me. Please fix whatever is broken, but if it is not your will to do this then show me how to honor you in these hard places. I know your grace is sufficient for me. Help me to rest in you.

That is the comfort I can share with you. No tips or formulas, only the gritty honesty that agrees that sometimes we can’t help ourselves – that God is there, and he remains faithful no matter what state we’re in.

Sing what you believe

I found my son, a kindergartner, on the front steps singing a song to God. He was a kid who loved being with people, but when he found himself without playmates that day, he sat and created a song to express his sadness and lift his soul.

My prayers are sometimes songs as well, made up as I go. Singing my thoughts helps me to be more honest with myself and more real with God.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 98:1 ESV

It’s good to sing what is true, to our God who hears us. I continually find new references in the scriptures that tell us to sing to him. I’m happy, and honored, to comply.

In my case, being honest about my hopelessness led me to a better way to manage life, and now my song is much more joyful.

If any of this sounds similar to your story, or you are interested in a discussion about mental health, suffering and following Jesus, I suggest you listen to my friend and former pastor, Wesley Towne. He left the Oregon church he founded (Ekklesia Eugene) due to his wife’s health concerns, and he is an excellent resource on this topic.

Blessings on your hope-filled journey!

Advice I’d Like to Give to My Young Mother Self – Matthew 4:18-20

To my dear self at twenty-three, from an older you,

This is what you asked for.

All your life you have wanted to know your purpose. You desired the freedom that comes from living simply and trusting God. You prayed to become a wife and a mother. Now live it.

He added a husband to your life, and children. No one has ever been the wife and mother that you are to these people. Your family is unique. No one else is you.

No one will do it like you. God made and equipped you to be you.

Yes, your rebellious heart did damage to his creation, but in Jesus you are completely forgiven, thoroughly redeemed. He has given you a new heart. Your job now is to follow Jesus and “he will make you . . .” Trust him, learn from him, seek him, cling to him.

Just like God designed your body with a place for a child to grow and a way to provide a newborn’s first food, he will continue to equip you to tend, teach and train until your job is through. He does nothing for the purpose of frustrating you. With him, you can do what he gives you to do.

He is with you always, and following after him, you will arrive at the destination he has planned for you.

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.  And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-20 ESV

Trusting doesn’t mean you do nothing. Following is a relationship. Trusting and obeying him is your contribution to the relationship, and your desire to be close to him, and your reliance on him, pleases his heart.

Just follow him. He has made and equipped you, and he will continue to.

And to my older future self, all of the above still applies.

Kathy Davis