Friday, September 2, 2016


According to, the word overwhelm means 

1. to overcome completely in mind or feeling
2. to overpower or overcome, especially with superior forces
3. to cover or bury beneath a mass of something, as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche

Example sentences include: 
  • Those who don't become part of the solution will be overwhelmed.
  • Children with autism are easily overwhelmed by information and can react badly-even violently-to the wrong kind of stimulus.
  • Feeling overwhelmed or inadequate is not a terribly unique feeling either.
  • Roberta does her best to help, but she feels overwhelmed.

I'm thinking those last two pretty well hit home for a lot of us. Honestly, for most of us, I probably didn't have to give the dictionary definition or example sentences - we probably could simply point to our own lives and say "This is what overwhelmed means."

Whether it is the daily demands of life, parenting, or the news of the day - most of us feel pretty overwhelmed most of the time. 

But today I heard overwhelmed come from the lips of someone who truly knows what overwhelmed means. Today I got to hear from an extraordinary woman, Allie Mellon of The Hard Places Community as she shared about the mission to fight against sex trafficking around the world. 

As I heard her share the stories of looking at these precious children who were being sold into slavery and because of the laws of the land being unable to do anything, I truly felt the weight of the word "overwhelmed". 

So much pain. So much hurt. So much damage. How do you fix that? Overwhelmed. Looking at how great, how impossible the need is and thinking, I'm not smart enough, rich enough, anything enough to know how to fix this! Overwhelmed. The need is so great. I don't know what to do. Overwhelmed.

Then she said a very simple phrase. God told her to just get out of the way and let Him meet the needs. He knows what to do. The need is great, but He is greater. Just share what He has given you - pour it out on them and get out of the way.

Overwhelmed, but this time by the love of God for the least of these. Overwhelmed by the desire to wake up and do something....anything. Overwhelmed by the knowledge that God loves these little ones and has spoken a dream into their hearts (have I forgotten that?) Overwhelmed that God wants to use me in this process. Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed.

I wonder if Moses looked at the vastness of the Red Sea and feel overwhelmed, yet he obeyed when God told him to hold up his rod. Did Joseph look around at the prison cell he sat in and yet still hear God speak to him about that dream he'd had so long ago? Did Nehemiah look out at the city that was torn to ruins and feel overwhelmed, and yet hear God tell him to go rebuild the walls.  Surely Peter must have looked at the stormy waters and felt overwhelmed - yet Jesus told him to step out. I wonder if even Jesus, when he looked at the cross that was before Him, feel overwhelmed, yet He went forward still.

Maybe it's time we felt overwhelmed not by the impossibleness of the task, but by the power of our Lord that calls us to it. That dream - the one you thought could never possibly be because it was just too overwhelming...maybe it's not so overwhelming after all. The needs He allows you to see, the ones you hope someone else will meet...maybe they are there for YOU to see so that God can work through YOU. 

The things you never thought you could do simply because you felt so inadequate and they seemed so overwhelming....Maybe it's time to realize that the things that look so overwhelming to us are not nearly as huge as the overwhelming love and power of our God. How overwhelming is that love? Remember the feeling you got the first time you looked into your child's eyes and thought no one had ever felt a love this great? Well that is only a small grain of sand compared to the vastness of God's love for us. (Yeah, I know - impossible to wrap you mind around, isn't it.)

I don't pretend to understand how so much evil can exist in the world today...all I know is that now I am overwhelmed with the knowledge that somehow God wants to use me to take back that which the enemy has stolen.

I try not to think too much about the "how" - since that overwhelms me. It's sort of like standing too long at the end of the high dive and looking down. Do that long enough and you'll talk yourself out of diving in at all...the kiddie pool looks like a much safer place to be. I'm thinking it's time to stop thinking so much and just walk to the end of the board and dive in. Then I can be overwhelmed by the depth of God's love instead of fear. That sounds live an overwhelmed I can live with.

Psalm 139:17-18

The Message (MSG)
Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
      God, I'll never comprehend them!
   I couldn't even begin to count them—
      any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
   Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!

"We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God's messenger. Accepting someone's help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing.

"The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it.

*Repost from 2012.

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