Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Overwhelming Perspective

     Note:  As North Park University is the University of the Evangelical Covenant Church, we naturally begin all meetings with a prayer or short homily and a prayer. In our School of Business and Faculty Senate, that honor rotates amongst the professors. At our Faculty Senate Meeting on Monday, September 24, 2018, it was my turn.
     Most times, the theme of the devotion is clear to me. This time it was not. So, I started with what was bothering me and it led to the following, which I thought was #blogworthy.

Overwhelming Perspective

     Just five short weeks ago, we were excited to greet our students and colleagues and begin this school. Like our students, we… well at least I, were excited and enthusiastic with the start of another school year.
     Now, it is just week 4, and again speaking for myself and a few others I have polled, I am wondering where that excitement and enthusiasm went. It feels like the 25th week of a 16 week semester. Heck, I will admit it, I am feeling overwhelmed. In our school, we are down two full time professors as a result, a few of us, including me are about to have three quads of double overloads. One is a course that needs some surgery and I only have taught it once, like three years ago. Another is a brand-new course that we need, and I am best suited to develop and pilot. It is not clear if I volunteered or was conscripted for this workload.
     I looked up Bible verses on being overwhelmed. There were plenty of them. Here are two, representative passages from Psalms (NLT):

When I am overwhelmed,you alone know the way I should turn.
Wherever I go,my enemies have set traps for me. (Psalm 142:3) 
From the ends of the earth,I cry to you for help
when my heart is overwhelmed.Lead me to the towering rock of safety, (Psalm 61:2)
     I simultaneously felt better and suddenly foolish. Needless to say, things are not nearly this bad. There are no enemies, that I know of, setting traps for me. I am not anywhere near the ends of the earth crying to God for help. I am not this kind of overwhelmed. But, I am some kind of overwhelmed.
     Clearly, this is a matter of perspective. So… yes, I did seek out bible passages on Perspective. These kinds of searches never really pan out in my humble opinion unless I am searching on words like Salvation, Sin, Love, or Forgiveness. Perspective? Forget about it.
     So, I have written my own prayer on Feeling Overwhelmed and Seeking Perspective.

Dear Heavenly Father. 
I am feeling overwhelmed. I have more tasks than I can accomplish. I have more responsibilities than I believe there is time or mental capacity to achieve. I am feeling lonely and helpless in this regard.
Please, lead me to that towering rock but not for safety. Take me to the towering rock where I can have perspective, where I can clearly see priorities, and I can realize how blessed I really am.

Lead me to that towering rock to see and understand that I am blessed to work in this wonderful school, with great colleagues, teaching amazing young people. Let me see and understand those around who are truly overwhelmed with illness, family issues, hunger, in true physical or mental jeopardy. Help me to realize what I so easily forget, that in my humble case, I need to take some deep breathes, to stop being paralyzed by the seeming mountain range of tasks, and instead organize and prioritize them so I may begin chipping away at them. Lead me to the towering rock where I can see that the mountain range is but a small hill. 
Help me to keep the old German Proverb with me at all times: Start to sew and God will provide the thread. It is a truth I too easily forget. 
Lastly, Father, forgive me for exaggerating my pressures. Please provide comfort and safe passage to those who are truly overwhelmed with their lives, dealing with serious illnesses, or otherwise in desperate need. 
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


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