By Johnnie Godwin
Contributing Columnist, B&R
At breakfast recently, wife Phyllis and I were talking about technology. Another new tech gadget was advertised on TV. Phyllis is not anti-tech, but she declares I dragged her “kicking and screaming into technology.” Let me explain. Phyllis has been a professionally published writer for over 45 years. She never wanted to become a writer, but I “bootlegged” her into it when I became a LifeWay editor in 1970 and another editor needed a Vacation Bible School writer. Phyllis was well-qualified with a diploma of theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
“It’s Too Much.” When Phyllis became a professional writer in the 1970s, we used manual typewriters, though I owned an IBM Selectric at home. No problem. Now it’s 2017, and Phyllis says she’s completing her writing career with a final assignment she recently completed. But what about her tech journey? I bought my first PC in 1984. Ever since then, I have brought Phyllis through every tech invention to the present. So at breakfast, the mention of yet another tech gadget caused her to exclaim, “It’s too much!” And I said, “I totally agree with you. I won’t buy it!” Peace at home!
But everyone’s world tends to become too much. I preached my first sermon 65 years ago. God has blessed me with His calling more than I can tell. But the world of people I’ve met has caused me to identify with Neil Diamond singing, “Everyone wants a piece of me!” I’m grateful but somewhat overwhelmed at times. I’m not complaining when one more invite or prayer request comes, but I tend to feel, “It’s too much!”
Jesus must have felt that way many times in His ministry. Crowded into a house overflowing with people, not a single person could make his way to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12). So four men of faith tore up part of the roof to lower a paralyzed man for Jesus to heal. There are many other examples of Jesus facing “too much.” Besides Jesus enduring “too much,” what else did He do? I’ll tell you because it’s also what we need to do.
When life becomes “too much,” we need to retreat. After Jesus had a full day and had fed more than 5,000 people, He seemingly had had too much for that day. Jesus immediately made the disciples get in a boat and head for the other side. Jesus dismissed the crowds. Then the Bible says, “He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone” (Matthew 14:21-25, HCSB). Renewed in strength and power by the Father, Jesus came down from the mountain about 3:00 a.m. to walk on the water and rescue His disciples. We always have to come down from the mountain to keep on answering God’s call until He calls us home.
Let God be your pacemaker to guard against “too much.” Again, everyone needs to follow Jesus’ example of retreat in some way. Otherwise, they may burn out and give up their calling. I remember reading of an early itinerant evangelist who drove himself on horseback so hard and long that he ruined his health. As he lay dying, he said, “I fear that I have killed the horse on which I must carry the gospel. And he died.” Successful pastors do that today. Serious laymen and laywomen may do much the same thing. Those in every walk of life can fail to realize that there comes a point in life that is “too much!” I did that at age 25. Why did I not become a foreign missionary when I felt God had called me to be one? I drove myself night and day for eight and a half years of preparation in college and seminary. I worked and commuted day and night and cared for my wife, our three sons, the churches I pastored, and the other jobs I held. I guess I thought I was Superman. But I crashed and burned. My Christian doctor said, “Johnnie, you don’t have a spiritual problem; you have a physical problem.” And God used Dr. Robert Bone to get me back to health. Nevertheless, I failed the medical requirement of the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board). But God had other greater plans — beyond my dreams and imagination. Now, at 80, I still arise each day to ask God His will for today!
What about you, our society, our world, and “too much?” We’ve had too much of too many things! We’ve had wrenching political differences and bitterness. We’ve become workaholics that may lead to alcoholism or family and personal dysfunction. We’ve pursued our desires of worldly fame, worldly things, sports, technology, and wants to the neglect of God and His church. Let me tell you the ultimate answer to “too much!” Jesus gave the answer: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33-34, HCSB).
And finally, Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33, HCSB).
Conclusion. When your life becomes too much, find peace in Jesus and what He teaches you in His Word. When your suffering becomes too much, be courageous; because, Jesus has conquered the world. And in Him, you too can do all things! (Philippians 4:13, paraphrased). Now, I feel better. And I hope you do too. It’s time to get over “too much!”
— Copyright 2017 by Johnnie C. Godwin. Write: email@example.com