A few years ago during my annual physical, my doctor told me that my blood pressure was creeping up. I was positive he was mistaken since my blood pressure had always been on the low side. Yet when I started monitoring it, I found that my doctor was right. It was gradually creeping higher so he put me on blood pressure medication. Because of this, I now have to monitor my blood pressure regularly. To me that means I take it every day so I will notice if it starts to creep up again. Most of the time it is right where it should be but there are times, when under a lot of stress, it is higher than it should be. Sometimes even just wondering if it is higher than it should be weighs on my mind enough that it makes my blood pressure go up.
I’ve come up with an aid to help me when this happens: I simply think of myself in a very relaxing place. For me, that place is a trail in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. This particular trail gradually ascends as it follows a beautiful stream and passes several cascades and small waterfalls along the way. When Claire and I went there the first time, the fallen leaves had covered the ground making every sound muffled and quiet. It was calming, peaceful and quiet. So that is what I think about when I feel stressed and take my blood pressure. That calming beautiful hike soothes my mind and makes me relax.
This trail is a picture of how our lives can be. We think things are calm and wonderful and sometimes before we realize it, we are in the thick of something that can be a bit overwhelming. Or things may be cruising along and suddenly we find ourselves in a situation that is far more demanding and trying than we could have imagined.
At the end of Deuteronomy, Moses is preparing the people of Israel to enter the promised land. They had been told that the land was fortified and the people were strong. The thought of entering this land had been terrifying to the people (Numbers 13) and as a result that generation was not allowed to enter the land. It was still the same formidable land and the thought of entering it certainly must have raised their collective blood pressure! However, Moses assured the people in Joshua 1, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Here is the thing that should calm us and enable us to press on regardless of what we are facing. Whether we are walking comfortably or struggling on the uphill parts of our lives, God is always there, always with us. While we may still struggle, God never leaves us and never forsakes us. He is with us every step of the way.