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“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress; I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5-6.


As you embark on a New Year is your life centred? Are you grounded and living on a firm foundation?


Finding our center is often referred to as a state of emotional and spiritual equilibrium. Finding our center is supposed to help us to be accepting of the good and the bad in life and understand that things are always changing. When troubles arise, we are supposed to be able to return to our center to help us feel more balanced and grounded. For many, attempts to find one’s center involves eastern meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, etc. Often people will use the terms centered and grounded interchangeably. Some will attempt to separate them. But for this blog, I will use them interchangeably.


Richard Swenson is a futurist, researcher, and author. He believes something is terribly wrong with our current society. He refers to our societal malaise as a “psychic instability” in people’s lives, something that prevents peace from being firmly implanted in the human heart.


Swenson believes people’s lives are in turmoil, they have no center. They are frazzled, anxious, and depressed. As people look at the future, there is a fear that grips their heart, and they do not know how to be delivered from it.


Swenson points out: “Progress has given us an unprecedented affluence, education, technology, and entertainment. We have comforts and conveniences other eras could only dream about. Yet somehow, we are not flourishing under the gifts of modernity, as we would expect.”[1]


He then asks:


Why do so many of us feel like air-traffic controllers out of control? How can the salesman feel so stressed when the car is loaded with extras, the paycheck is bigger than ever, and vacations last 4 weeks a year? How is it possible that the homemaker is still tired despite the help of the washing machine, clothes dryer, dishwasher, and vacuum cleaner? If we are so prosperous, why are the therapist’s offices so full? If we have ten times more material abundance than our ancestors, why are we not ten times more content and fulfilled?[2]


Swenson is simply pointing out that our lives are far from being centered. Instead, many are living an aimless and disconcerted life. So, why do we have so much angst and uneasiness? I believe it is because people are drifting away from their need for a spiritual foundation. When we move away from God, we begin to experience a real sense of our own finiteness. Without realizing it, we take on a position in the universe that is too big for us to handle. As this begins to happen, we develop a real sense of insecurity and fear creeps into our lives.


To understand this sense of insecurity and fear, we need to understand what true security is and where it is found. I love the following definition of security: “It is when you build your life on that which cannot be taken away from you.” Conversely then, insecurity is when you build your life on something that can be taken away from you. And that is our problem. A myriad of people are building their lives on the wrong foundation.


The key phrase in that definition of security is, “build your life upon.” We should all ask ourselves, what have we built our lives upon? If it is something that can be taken away from us, something unstable, fleeting or temporal, then fear will be a constant disquieting force in our lives. Jesus alluded to this in his parable in Matthew 7:24-27:


Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it, is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.


Obviously, building our lives upon Jesus and his teachings is the very foundation that Jesus desires for all of us. St. Augustine said our fears can tell us a lot about ourselves. He said, “You can always follow your worries to that which you have built your life around.” Building our life on the wrong foundation will always give us plenty of worry and instability.


Rollo May is a highly regarded therapist. He said, “Anxiety comes when something that you have put your real security in, something that made you feel in control, something that made you feel like you had an identity – is threatened or implodes.” And this is exactly what happens to people when they build their lives upon the shifting sands of this world’s foundations and allures.


Steven Covey in, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People ,speaks to the heart of the matter when he says, we all have a personal center, and whatever is at the center of our lives is the source of our security. Jesus pointed this out as well when he said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Matthew 6:21. While Jesus was specifically referring to monetary treasure as a misplaced focus, his words have a much broader and more encompassing application for all of us.


The great question of life is this: “Is there an ultimate security, a true foundation that we can build our lives on, and which will not be taken away from us?” The Bible’s answer is yes! Christ can be our personal center and sure foundation. He desires for us to walk with Him through life where He can guide us, comfort us, gives us wisdom, and become our ultimate security.


A simple way for us to understand this picture is to see and understand our position in life. God uses great metaphors to help us understand ourselves and our great need for Him.


We are told in the Bible that we are like sheep. It is the only animal that God compares us to. Sheep are not smart. They will follow one another off a cliff or into a ditch. They are easy prey for wild animals or thieves. They are helpless, and God says we are just like sheep. We may feel like we are self-made individuals, with no need for God, but we are only deceiving ourselves. Like helpless sheep, we bleat about the unimportant, we pursue things to the precipice and our cravings plunge us over the cliff into an abyss of our own making. That aimlessness and hopelessness is depicted by Isaiah in shepherding language in Isaiah 53:6, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.”


For sheep to live, they must have a shepherd. A good shepherd leads, protects, guides, and feeds their sheep. This is the role of the shepherd. However, shepherds can only fulfill this role if the sheep stays close to them. When sheep encounter a wild animal or any type of danger, they can rest in the shepherd’s care. However, when they go their own way and wander off from the shepherd’s care, it is hard for them to rely upon the shepherd when a crisis comes along.


All of us are like sheep and Jesus is the good shepherd (see John 10). If we have never been close to Him or have drifted away from Him to follow our own paths, He invites us to come and draw near to him. The Apostle Peter describes this shepherd/sheep relationship like this: “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25) For good reason, Peter would also say to those who are ridden with fear and uncertainty in 1 Peter 5:7, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” In doing so, you will find your center.


Finding our centre in this this New Year will happen if you follow Isaiah's advice, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3).


 

[1] Richard Swenson, M.D., Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, (Colorado, Nav Press, 2004) [2] Ibid.

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