The Discipline Of Being Overwhelmed

Beside the road, the grass was parted into a path created by the feet of those who had walked there before me. I didn’t know the destination, but I had time, so I decided to follow the lead of those feet and find out where they were going.

It was a good decision. The path took me over a rise and around a corner, then sloped down gradually with a panoramic view of the ocean in front of me. On the right, the ground sloped down sharply towards a rocky cove where people were swimming. On the left, there was no ground. Only a sheer cliff, and the waves far below.

How can I tell you about the smell of the sea when it breaks itself on the rocks? How can I describe the springy softness of Irish grass that has never been cut? I don’t know what the seagulls were saying there, but it seemed to me they had the right language to say it in, because crying out with astonished delight is really the only appropriate response in a place like that. As I sat down on the cushion-grass, I was overwhelmed. I felt small, and so young, and the rocks were so old and the sea so big. For a while, I could see everything a little more clearly, outside of the walls filled with furniture and ceilings that are all scaled to my size, outside where the world is too much for me and I am not the centre of it and I can’t control it and I am overwhelmed.

It’s good to be overwhelmed. I need it. I need it in regular doses like a strong medicine that goes down deep and reacts with my ever-inflating pride and helps cut it back down to size for a while. Of course, being overwhelmed with difficulties and troubles can achieve the same result, and I thank God for that, too. But that kind of medicine doesn’t taste good at all, so I leave those prescriptions to God and self-administer with doses of wonder. I go outside, where the glory of creation is scaled to God, not me. I remember his strength, and my need. Then I remember the way he reached down to save tiny little me from my own sin and rebellion against him, and I cry out again in astonished delight.

6 thoughts on “The Discipline Of Being Overwhelmed”

  1. Seth
    Thanks for a good perspective. Amazing how being overwhelmed relates to us in so many ways—from despair to seeing God’s awesomeness. Your post is a great encouragement to me this day.

    Liked by 1 person

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