Overwhelmed. I’ve been hearing this word a lot recently.

I hear it on the news. I hear it in music. I hear it in the lift lines. I hear it in the middle school. I hear it in parents. I hear it in the bus. And if I’m honest, I hear it in my own head.

Yes, I think if we are honest with ourselves we all have times (days, weeks, months or even years) where we feel a little overwhelmed. This feeling is so squarely within the range of normal emotions that I think it almost goes without saying that everyone feels it. The question then becomes what can I do about it.

But before we get to that question I figured I needed to have a solid definition of what it really means to be overwhelmed. So I looked up a couple definitions and found one that I think will resonate with you all. It said, “to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as an avalanche.” Now, I know that this is speaking to the more physical sense of the word overwhelmed. However, doesn’t it sometimes feel like life comes in avalanches?

A couple weeks ago I was on top of Buttermilk with a troop of six graders digging in the snow for an avalanche beacon. They were preparing for their 6th grade Outdoor Education Trip (which is a hut trip) and part of their preparation was a lesson in snow science and a chance to simulate searching for an avalanche victim using an avalanche beacon. An avalanche beacon is a device that can both receive and transmit a certain radio frequency. If someone is caught in an avalanche the beacons can be used to search for the victim under the snow. My group (can you tell I’m proud?) was super quick to find the beacon buried in the snow— something that I’m sure the victim would appreciate if there was actually a victim.

This experience made me think about what it would be like to be skiing with a group of friends and then all of a sudden be separated from them by a wall of white snow. I wonder if it’s anything like my spiritual life when I’m cruising along and out of nowhere an avalanche of life hits me and all of a sudden I feel separated from Jesus. Why is it that prayer is the activity that gets pushed to the side when we get busy and overwhelmed? Isn’t prayer the beacon that allows us to talk to Jesus even when life is so overwhelming we feel like we are far from Him? Even Jesus knew that He needed to pray when life became the craziest. In the Gospels, it is common to see Jesus withdraw to a lonely place to pray (Luke 5:16). I figure if Jesus needed to maintain that connection to His Father, then I definitely do!

So next time you find yourself covered up by the aftermath of a life avalanche think about the true priority of prayer. I know it’s easy to focus on all the things that need to be done and the wrongs that need to be righted (because I do that sometimes!) but I think you and I both will be pleasantly surprised at how differently life goes when we pray first.

P.S. If this resonates with you and you would like more thoughts on the topic consider coming to our event entitled “Fear, Anxiety, Shame, and Wellness” this Wednesday evening. Click here for more details.