The Way to Break Free of Stress
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
When I feel like we’re drowning in all of life, our daughter Hope and I will go up to the lake and feel the waves pound, sense the serene fury of water.
As the waves break against the earth it quakes the inner cochlear, and there’s nothing else to hear but the breaking. Hope stands there with windblown strands of hair across her face, the electrical energy of each breath of wet, briny air sparking something in her.
“Is there anything lovelier, really, than the way waves keep touching the shore no matter what tries to keep pulling them away?” I lean into her and say it over the sound of the wind, of the crashing surf.
Hope tucks her hair behind her ear, “Love’s like waves — it keeps reaching out, no matter what tries to keep pulling it away.”
She and I stand there in the battering of the elements, watching waves, eyeing how the light catches in water, how the waves move like the earth’s own pulse, like our own heartbeat.
“You know — a pool isn’t like this.” I say it slowly, watching the waves, seeing it for the first time: “It has no power, no life — because it has no breaking of waves … Strange how that is: It’s in the breaking, there is life.”
What did my husband say again and again? “Never be afraid of being a broken thing … Unless a seed breaks, there is no life.”
All down the shoreline, the waves keep crashing and breaking … and living.
Hope slips her arm through mine.
All of life’s losses break us, break through us, scar us. I want them not to. Frankly, there are days I’d like to hide my scars and the jagged edges of my brokenness, days when I wish there were no marks to bear. But if losses don’t leave their mark, how can we say we were ever marked or shaped by love? Scars are signs that show the way we loved.
Hope’s hand rests on mine.
“You’re famous for helping; God, give us a break.” (Psalm 79:9, MSG)
Give us a break, God, in the midst of overwhelming stress and the pounding of waves, the storms of life.
And I don’t even realize I’m saying it out loud: “When you’re hit by the breaking waves, break deep.”
You’ve got three options when breaking waves hit, when you feel like you’re drowning.
Either let fear make you run hard — but fear never makes you safe, fear just makes you fall — and fall hard.
Or, fall back on your pride and try to stand against that wave breaking over you — and it will break you.
Or lastly, when you’re hit with a breaking wave — you can break deep. You can break deep into that breaking wave and let yourself be moved by Living Water and transformed and formed by Christ and remade by the rising current of His Love.
The only way through a breaking wave — is to break deep into the wave.
The only way through the overwhelming waves is to break deep into the roiling water and dive into the depths and stretch out both arms through the fathoms and let yourself be made into the shape of a cross.
That’s all there is: You can either be broken by fear or broken by pride — or you can break into the surrendered, cruciform shape of Christ.
Break deep. Break deep, and break free.
I turn to Hope — I kind of feel baptized. She and I — we can face stress, the waves coming from every side, because we can break deep into the wave of whatever comes at us, arms opened wide and choose to live shaped like a cross, cruciform. It feels like surrender. When you choose to break deep into the breaking waves — when you break the surface of the water again — you can feel born again. Remade into the image of Christ.
When you’re in over your head, you can touch the depths of God.
Hope turns to me. “Hear it, Mama? It’s like every crash of the waves is echoing it.”
Break deep — break free.
Lord, when waves of stress rise and threaten to overwhelm, cause me not to be broken by fear of being overwhelmed or by the pride of standing in my own strength. When I feel stress, cause me to break deep — break deep into whatever is coming at me, shaped like Christ, acting like Christ, formed like Christ, broken and given and surrendered like Christ, cruciform like Christ. Cause me to break deep today — and break free. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 4:24, “And then take on an entirely new way of life — a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” (MSG)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think of one stress today you are facing. What’s one way you can break deep into that wave, surrendered and living Christlike?