Steven Furtick - 4 Reasons You're Stressed
This is an excerpt from: The Path of Peace
What would you give your stress level, 1 to 10, just in this moment? I'm hearing a "3". Who said 3? You're not old enough to have a 3 stress level. You're supposed to be like 80 before you realize all the crap you worry about isn't worth worrying about, and then you can have a 3 stress level where you just don't care. I can't wait to get old and just not care. That would be great. You're too young for that. Somebody said "10". I'm not going to ask you why. In fact, I don't even have to. Here's what we'll do. We'll do another one real quick. I know this is personal, but at every location play along.
Close your eyes. Get the thing on your mind that is the greatest source of stress in your life at this very moment. You'd better not be picturing me. Get it on your mind. What is the single greatest source of stress in your life? We'll broaden it a little bit. Not in this very moment, but in this season of your life. Got it? Now open your eyes. You're going to be shocked, but I know what you were thinking. I know this much. I know the thing you thought of fell into one of the following four categories. It was either related to a place, a pace, a problem, or a person…or maybe people.
Peoples, just in general, all of them, every last one of them, just human beings, Homo sapiens. It's either a place you're going to after this or even for some people church can be stressful. I'm sure it's stressful to come to Elevation, especially if you've never been here, because it's confusing. They have violins and cellos on the stage, but then they start shooting laser beams. It's mixed messaging, like, "What kind of church is this? Is this a white church, black church, traditional church, untraditional"? Yes to all of the above. It's the kind of church where you can't figure out what kind of church… It's a "good news to all people" kind of church.
Some of the stressful places we will go this Christmas season… It could be a place. If you have to fly, I certainly understand your dread for that experience. Just walk through the airport telling yourself over and over again, "I'm not a human; I have no rights," and you'll be okay. The pace of life. I hear people mention this a lot. "How are you doing"? "Busy. Oh, I'm busy. Busy, busy, busy, busy. I'm busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger". Someone said that to me the other day. I think that's weird. "Busier than a three-legged cat trying to cover up his poop on ice" somebody said to me. "Running around like a chicken with my head cut off".
So violent. All I said was, "How are you doing"? You're decapitating chickens. It's the pace of life. I understand that if you've been running people everywhere. You've been like an unpaid Uber driver for a 13-year-old. I understand. Sometimes it comes down to a problem in your life that is persistent, and sometimes it comes down to one you're just pushing through right now. A lot of people listening to me preach right now are having a hard time focusing with their mind because of the pain in their body. Or what can be even worse, it's somebody you love, and you can't do anything to comfort them. That can be difficult.
The fourth category I mentioned, people… That's really the whole thing, which is why when I asked you to imagine in your mind the greatest source of your stress I was very clear. I said, "Imagine it," because some of you would have started pointing if I would have let you, which is a bad idea. Some of you are sitting next to what you perceive to be the source… See, you should look really confused right now, is my advice. I think it's important before we begin a discussion on the path of peace to try to talk about the source of stress, because whatever you identify as the source of your stress determines where you will seek your peace. Whatever you say, "This is the source of my stress" about regulates and determines where you seek your peace.
The Christmas story, of course, comes along and challenges us. In all of those ways we experience stress and pressure, Christ is born to challenge us as it relates to our expectation of peace. The Jewish people had a very particular expectation of the kind of peace the Messiah would bring. Zechariah states it very clearly and paints a picture of the kind of peace the Jewish people were looking for God to bring through the prophesied Messiah. It features such expectations as mentioned in verse 74. He says, "This Messiah will rescue us from the hand of our enemies".
Notice the word from. The expectation of peace for the Jewish people was that God would deliver them from their circumstances, from their oppression, from their being marginalized, from their poverty, from their despair, and from their darkness. It was surprising, then, for me to see the shift Zechariah made in verse 79 where he said the rising sun will shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death. It represents a shift in perspective. God does not always rescue me from; sometimes he visits me in my trouble.
For so many years, I have thought the thief of my peace was other people or certain places or the schedule of my life, which is kind of funny, because I'm the one who said yes to all that stuff I'm stressed about, so now I'm asking God to take away the things I committed to. I've tried so long to arrange my life in such a way that I would no longer experience those stressful events and stressful people, and if God would just change them, and if everybody would just act the way they should act for a little while this Christmas… The Lord has been speaking to me in these last few days about the path of peace. What I realized the more I reflected on this promise of peace God gives us… Isaiah 9:6: "His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace".
Notice the prophet didn't call him the "Prince of Convenience" or the "Prince of Ease" or the "Prince of Comfort" or the "Prince of My Preferences". A lot of times when God promises me peace what I hear in translation is that God is promising me convenience or ease or my preference being met, but the Lord has been speaking to me… Maybe you don't need to hear this, but just in case you do, it is impossible to experience peace when you are expecting perfection. See, my problem (I'm coming to realize this) is not other people, not the place, not the pace, and not the problem. The problem is not the problem. I can tell you the problem is not the problem because Jesus was born in a manger.
The angel appeared to shepherds. The shepherds were the people you would least expect the herald to make the announcement of the birth of the Son of God to, yet he showed up to the least likely people in an unlikely place. So it's not the people. It's not the place. It's not the pace. The shepherds were always on the move from place to place to place to place. It's not the place. It's not the pace. It's not the people. It's not the problem. Here's my problem. My problem is I can't receive peace because I'm expecting perfection. I'll make it quick. Here's the whole message. If you need to go, if you have things to do, I'll give it to you right now, and you can go on and get to Target, and hopefully everything will turn out all right. The enemy of your peace is not other people. It is not other places. It is not how fast life is or the way the world is. The enemy of your peace is your insistence on perfection.
When heaven came down and appeared to humanity, it was not in the form of perfection. In fact, God did not come down looking like a deliverer. He came down looking like a dependent. He came down as a baby. When the Prince of Peace came, he didn't come dressed in power; he came in Pampers. Why? Because God wanted you to know he's going to bring you peace, but not like you expected him to bring it. It's not going to look like you pictured it. It's not always going to fit your preferences. It's not always going to live up to your exact specifications of the performance of people. So if I'm going to live at peace, I have to surrender my expectation of perfection. I feel like I could leave. Every Christmas party you attend is going to be so much better because of what I just told you. Every place you set your foot over the next three days is going to be so much more peaceful because you just realized that peace isn't found in a place. Peace is not found in a set of circumstances that are problem-free. It is not that he delivers me from it; it's that he meets me in it.