I've learned something in my own pursuit of a stress-free life: If I want peace rather than the pressure of stress in my life, I must choose to seek direction from God in every situation. Our God is a God of peace. He'll always lead us toward peace and joy, not anxiety and frustration. Therefore, we have to be listening for His voice. By following His voice, we can find peace and overcome the stress that so many are dealing with today.
To find peace in our lives, we simply need to obey the promptings God gives us each day. A prompting is a "knowing" deep down on the inside, telling us what to do. First Kings 19:11-12 refers to this knowing as a still, small voice. A prompting isn't a whack on the head with a hammer! In 1 Kings, the Lord didn't use the great and strong wind, the earthquake or fire to prompt Elijah. His voice came to Elijah as a sound of gentle stillness and a still, small voice. A prompting doesn't even have to be a voice at all. In fact, God often gives direction by speaking to your heart rather than to your ears.
Since a prompting is very gentle, some might question whether or not it's from God. When you're unsure about a prompting, it's often easy to ignore it. One time after I had been shopping at the mall for three or four hours, I sensed that God was saying, "You need to go home now." I had only purchased half of the eight items on my shopping list, so I ignored the prompting and kept on shopping.
The remaining items on my list weren't immediate needs. But, like many determined, goal-oriented people, I wasn't about to leave that mall until I purchased every item on my list. I had come for eight items, and I was going to leave with eight items! I didn't care if I had to be dragged out of that mall; I wasn't leaving until every item was crossed off my list! And I wasn't going to listen to any voice that said otherwise.
I remember reaching the point of being so tired and upset that I wasn't able to think clearly. All I wanted to do was finish shopping and get out of there. It was almost more than I could do to remain civil to the other shoppers and clerks in the store. I was stressed out!
Looking back, I can't remember how many times I've done that—stress out because I've pushed beyond the prompting of the Lord. I can always tell I've gone too far when I'm not able to practice even the most basic manners—politeness, kindness and self-control. If I simply had obeyed the prompting of the Lord when I heard that still, small voice telling me to go home, I would've easily relieved the stress from the situation. Instead, I pushed my way through in my own determination to achieve my goal, and I ended up bringing stress on myself and everyone around me.
If we'll simply learn to listen to God and do what He says, we'll discover that things will go well for us. No matter what the situation, we need to listen to God and obey His voice. Proverbs 3:6 states: In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. You may not understand the reasons that God is asking you to do certain things, but as you listen to His voice and obey His direction, you can experience a peaceful calmness as your stress level begins to decrease. So listen up...and de-stress!
We do not need to strive for power or hope to have power someday; we have power now! The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us (see Rom. 8:11) and we can be quickened (filled with life) by that power. This is not a onetime filling that slowly drains out of us as the days go by, but we can be filled day by day and even moment by moment. We can constantly and continually experience God’s presence and power in our lives. When we belong to Him, there is never a time when His power is not accessible to us.