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I CAN'T HANDLE THIS!
Several years ago I was a guest speaker at a weeklong event for high school students. Everything was going along as smoothly as you could expect when you have several hundred teenagers all packed into one place ... until that Thursday I will never forget. I was informed that morning by the leader of the organization that for the afternoon activity we'd all be going tubing.
Before I continue with this story, you have to understand that I may be the biggest doofus on the planet when it comes to anything remotely adventurous. Now don't get me wrong—I like working out and going to the gym, but every time I try something another person claims will be "fun and exciting" (such as snow skiing, waterskiing, or white-water rafting), I always—I mean always—get injured. Because of this, anytime someone tells me that "we" are going to try something that involves plummeting from heights, my go-to reaction is most often "You can go eat rocks—there's no way I'm getting involved!"
I asked the guy in charge what he meant by tubing, and he kindly explained to me that it was nothing more than sitting in an inner tube and floating down a local creek. "It's one of the most fun, relaxing things on this entire trip," he assured me.
So I agreed to go.
My first clue that this was not going to turn out so well should have come when we arrived at the launching point. The people at the tube rental were informing the camp leader that they had considered shutting down their business for the day because the area had recently received record amounts of rainfall, and as a result, the creek was at flood stage.
The second clue that this was going to end badly was that the "creek" looked much more like a raging river. It was moving so fast that as I got closer to it, I could hardly hear people's voices above the rushing water.
Honestly, I was getting a little stressed; however, I thought, It's a creek—what's the worst thing that can happen?
I was about to find out.
My wife, Lucretia, was with me, and she went first on the tubing adventure. The thing you need to understand about my wife is that she is perfect. She was the valedictorian of her high school and college classes. (I beat up our valedictorian.) She went to medical school. She's a second-degree black belt in karate. In short, she is a born winner. So when she set off in her tube, I wasn't surprised to see her head down the creek with a huge smile on her face.
Then it was my turn. So began what I like to refer to as my "three minutes of hell on earth." I sat in the tube and started down the creek. But while my wife had already sped out of sight, my tube seemed to be having issues. Finally I made it over a rock and dropped about three feet—at which point I came flying out of the tube and it continued down the creek without me.
Losing a tube on the creek wasn't a problem. I'd noticed that several other people had been thrown out of their tubes as well due to the water conditions, and I knew that if I could crawl to the creek bank and wait for a few seconds, I'd be able to grab an empty tube that some other poor soul had been flipped out of. I waited no more than ten seconds before I had another tube, thus giving me a renewed opportunity for more fun and excitement.
I plopped down and took off again, experiencing fun and excitement—for about fifteen seconds. Then I abruptly flipped and went under the water. But instead of popping back up to the surface like I had the time before, I got caught in the current of the "creek" and couldn't get myself upright again. I began to wish for things we take for granted in life, such as oxygen, and thought, So this is how it ends for me. I'm going to die because I drowned in a creek.
I began grabbing for anything I could find—anything that could pull me out of the current—and I finally managed to get hold of a vine that was connected to the bank. I held on with both hands and pulled with every ounce of strength I had. At last I managed to get my head above the water, and I immediately started gasping and choking, my lungs begging for air.
Eventually I made it out of the creek and collapsed on the bank for quite some time, trying to catch my breath and thanking God that the creek hadn't taken me down. And I can assure you, I didn't get back in that creek again. I staggered and stumbled through the woods until I finally found where our vehicles were parked.
That experience has been on my mind a lot lately as I have prepared to write this book, because it's a tangible reminder of what it feels like to be completely overwhelmed. We climb into college, adulthood, a job, a marriage, or a new endeavor, and we honestly believe it's going to be easy. For crying out loud, we've seen other people do this, and they seem to be just fine.
But before we know it, we've fallen into the creek and feel trapped in the current. We are utterly overwhelmed and can see no way out. As a result, we begin grabbing on to anything we hope might pull us out of the current we're caught up in, which often leads to greater problems instead of helping us.
All of us have been there or perhaps we are there—that place where the current of our circumstances seems to be swirling faster than ever. If we're not prepared, we'll be taken down with it and buy into the lie that insecurity, fear, worry, anxiety, and doubt are the new normal.
But nothing could be further from the truth!
Overwhelmed or Overcoming?
We live in a world that seems to focus on problems, uncertain situations, and the absolutely ridiculous. In the past several weeks I've watched the news at night and heard reports about how our economy is about to go from bad to worse, how solar flares from the sun are going to make airplanes crash, how an asteroid barely missed Earth, and how to survive a zombie attack. (No, I am not making this up!)
Some of those situations are pretty extreme; however, some of the overwhelming situations in life aren't "out there"—they're real and they're right in front of us on a daily basis. Here are just a few of the overwhelming situations you may be up against:
getting laid off at work
experiencing struggles in your marriage
having your first child
graduating from college with a degree, thousands of dollars' worth of student loans, and no job possibilities in sight
taking care of aging parents
getting a call from your doctor saying you need to come in as soon as possible
not being able to get over a past full of mistakes
losing someone close to you
I could go on, but I'm sure you get the picture: life can easily become overwhelming!
There are two types of people you don't want to encounter when you're going through something like this. First you have the "that's no big deal" types. You tell them what you're going through and how you're struggling, and their response is, "That's not such a big thing—you need to shut up, quit your crying, and just get over it." Most often they think it isn't a big deal because it's not happening to them. If they were in your shoes, they'd be freaking out too.
Second you have the "let me tell you my story" people. You tell them what you're going through and they proceed to insist that your situation pales in comparison to what they've gone through. By the end of a conversation with them, you feel as if you've been emotionally run over by a bus.
I'm going to try not to be either one of these people. Instead, I'm going to share with you some of my own struggles and speak the truth to you—not in a condemning way, but with understanding and practical application.
The first thing I need to say is that your overwhelming circumstances will always be overwhelming, if you allow them to be. In fact, the things that have you worried or stressed right now will most likely not go away by the time you finish reading this book.
Before we go any further, there's a question you must answer honestly: Are you willing to settle for being overwhelmed by circumstances forever, or do you want to step up and overcome whatever is robbing you of joy and life?
Change begins with a decision: to be overwhelmed or to overcome. Some people never make it out of the current of their circumstances. Instead, they surrender to stress, anxiety, and fear—simply because they don't know how to take the first step out.
The path to victory is paved by making the decision that life is not going to overwhelm you anymore—period. I know this may sound simplistic, but it's true. What gets our attention ultimately determines our direction. If we are constantly focused on our circumstances, we will be overwhelmed.
Let me be very clear. I'm not saying that if you simply think you aren't in bad circumstances, they'll just go away. However, it's a fact that as we shift our focus from our circumstances to Christ, everything in our lives can change. We see this challenge issued to us in the Scriptures over and over again. The author of Hebrews says, "We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne" (Hebrews 12:2).
All too often in my battle with fear and anxiety, I kept looking at my situation and my struggles, thinking things would never change, when my focus should have been on my Savior. After all, Jesus died on the cross not only so I wouldn't have to go to hell, but also to give me an abundant life on this earth (see John 10:10).
I know what it's like to live outside of this abundance. I had the incorrect focus for more than three agonizing years, and it resulted in a season of crippling fear, anxiety, worry, and even a dark depression.
I was looking to Jesus to change my circumstances; He was trying to change me.
And He'll do the same for you. It's possible to stop the hamster wheel of feeling overwhelmed day in and day out, and embrace the full, satisfied life Jesus planned for you.
Excerpted from Overwhelmed by Perry Noble, Stephanie Rische. Copyright © 2014 Perry Noble. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted June 14, 2014
Allow me to illustrate just how powerful Perry Noble's book, "Overwhelmed" is. I was reading an advance copy while driving with my husband, and occasionally I'd giggle or burst out "Oh, wow!" I shared a few passages with my husband as we drove along.
One of our stops was a bookstore. Guess what my husband purchased? Yup! His own copy.
Perry takes a very familiar Bible story and turns it on its head, bringing to light new details is a fresh and applicable way. Daniel and the three Hebrew children (who were actually young men, but eh...what are you going to do) perfectly illustrate how to refuse to live life perpetually overwhelmed.
And Perry writes from personal experience. He shares from deep places within his heart, and details from his childhood and his past that many would prefer to keep hidden from public view. But he insists that church isn't a place of perfection, rather a place of process and progress, and it's time we all were honest about our 'overwhelmedness'...just made that word up. Pretty clever, huh?
The wonderful thing about God is His timing. He knew I needed to 'choose' to pick up Perry Noble's book and read it now. I thought I was just getting to a review...instead, I was getting one of the best and most helpful life lessons I've received in a long, long time.
My thanks to my friends at Tyndale Publishing for my advance copy via NetGalley (and to my husband for our purchased copy) in exchange for an honest review (hey, it was an honest review that got my husband to buy the book!). "Overwhelmed" is the best book in today's market for today's believer. Deena Peterson, reviewer
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 24, 2014
Great Encouragement in an Entertaining Way. This book does call us to face what is distracting us, and deal with shortcomings, but the writing style is great. It feels as if we are hearing a fascinating sermon, or having a friendly chat with a good advisor. The points are well made and the concepts are useful. He does not sugar coat the message but he uses humor expertly. I'm not saying this is to be read for entertainment, but the illustrative stories make things clear in a memorable way. I am encouraged to apply these concepts and get back to total reliance on God.
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Posted August 31, 2014
I have mixed feelings about this book. I was excited to read about strategies to cope with struggles of daily life - the busyness, stress, never ending to-do list, and juggling of responsibilities. I found that I could identify with Noble as he shared his struggles of depression and being overwhelmed. So I was hopeful that this would be one of those books that I would get a lot out of and could chew on for some time to come.
However, I found that there was not a whole lot of information in this book that I hadn't already read elsewhere. While it is good to be reminded of the fact that God is present for us and loves us and knows what we are going through, I was hoping for more concrete information that I wasn't already aware of.
Perhaps this book wasn't as helpful to me as it could be for others because I am not significantly overwhelmed at the present. I can see how this book could be helpful to some readers in the midst of a great struggle.
For me, the most positive part of the book was the writer's engaging writing style. I found that he has a very light, conversational tone that is easy to read. Although the topic of the book is heavy, the book itself is a quick read.
If you are looking for a book to remind you of truths that might uplift and encourage you, this could be a good choice. If you are looking for a groundbreaking book that will change your life, you might want to look elsewhere.
Posted August 29, 2014
Overwhelmed. It is a feeling that many with worry have. We worry because of all the things that could go wrong. We are overwhelmed by many of the things we have in our lives. Exhaustion leads to burn out which can lead to despair.
In his book Overwhelmed, Perry Noble writes about how weak we as humans are. We have this idea that we can do it all and are superhuman. Nothing is too difficult and when it seems to the contrary we try harder believe we can overcome. Instead what typically happens is being overwhelmed.
Enter God. God is bigger than our problems, fears, and worries. However, it is a sad, but true statement, that when we are stressed we often forget to spend time with God. We forget the God who is bigger than everything.
Perry Noble points out that our troubles start with the absence of God is our lives. We then struggle with more and more because we do not take things to God. We forget the source of our strength and thus become overwhelmed. Noble points out that we must let go of control and let God control the situation. This must be based on trust.
However, we trust not because we fear what might happen. We also have such a frantic pace in life that we do not have time to even get to know the God that we desperately need to trust. We also fear being disappointed as though God will somehow let us down.
Yet Noble shows again and again that God is faithful and will do what is right. We must align ourselves with Him and He will work all things together for good, including giving strength when feelings of being overwhelmed are present.
Posted August 28, 2014
I found Overwhelmed to be an easy read. The book deals with different aspects of being overwhelmed. And gives advice on how to overcome anxiety and stress. The author reminds the reader that God loves us always, no matter if we succeed or fail. The book was sometimes funny, sometimes serious, and sometimes boring. There were some advice that I really could use in life right now.
3 1/2 stars
Posted August 28, 2014
Parts of this book would have made me give it 5 stars. I think it's an excellent book. The reason I only give it 4 stars is because I don't know that it gives concrete enough steps to take if overwhelmed. The subtitle also says winning the war against worry. To me it was more about depression. Depression and worry are not the same thing. I loved the author's quirky sense of humor. He made it a fun read, while talking about a tough subject. I thought he made a lot of really good points. He used both Old and New Testaments characters to illustrate his message. Some statements, though simple, can be profound. For example, "what gets our attention will ultimately determine our direction." "We claim we can't trust Jesus because He didn't do what He said He'd do, when in actuality what we thought He said was really what we said." "We will never be free of stress until we see the Savior." I particularly liked how he would use Bible stories to illustrate the "fire" of someone's life and how God was there in the midst of it, but that they needed to "see" Him there. Not our circumstances. Nor the fear. But God in the midst of it. Too often we fail to see, as Noble said, "the purpose of the fire is not punishment but promotion." He goes through those things with us. "He will walk with us through whatever flames we have to journey through" Highly recommend this book to any believer. There will come a time that we are overwhelmed. It serves as a great reminder of who He is and where He is in the midst of our lives.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 27, 2014
The author starts each chapter with an honest look at something that happened in his own life and then uses a Bible passage to prove that God is bigger than all our worries. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were often mentioned because they had a lot of worries. The author wasn't afraid to give the reader a glimpse into his own personal life and was completely honest about the depth of emotions and feelings he has discovered on his life journey from young boy to founding pastor of NewSpring Church.
Posted August 7, 2014
Pastor Perry Noble has written a book about overcoming difficulty that is heavily rooted in personal experience, having gone through a lengthy season of depression and despair. Interspersing his own stories with principles that are biblically based (lots of scripture that support the topic) as well as common sense, he presents his points in a friendly and conversational style that many will find appealing. He provides the reader with a number of perspective shifts, and is totally willing to be transparent about his personal struggles. Although I clearly don't know him personally, it doesn't seem like he is holding back. I found a number of different ways to view challenges and I bet you will, too!
Posted July 25, 2014
I really liked this book. Perry had a very down-to-earth way of writing. In some ways, it seemed like scattered thoughts combined into chapters, but I thought there was some really good stuff in there. There are some common cliches that can seem like pat answers to problems, but sometimes those cliched answers are the solid truth and we have to cling to them no matter what. One new thought for me was the falseness of this pat answer, "The safest place to be is in the center of God's will." Look at Jesus and what He suffered and He was in God's will. Being in God's will and following Him isn't necessarily safe as far as no worries or pain or disappointments, etc, but it will give you the strength to keep pressing on when life seems hopeless.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 22, 2014
A frank and truthful expression of how depression can strike anyone at anytime and how to turn your thoughts around. Great nuggets and tips to help you better deal with the lives we create. I have a hard copy AND the nook version. Love it!
Thank you Pastor P for sharing your story and your wisdom.
Posted July 21, 2014
Mr. Noble begins this book by telling the reader he was so overwhelmed with life that he wanted to kill himself. So, his goal is to bring the reader closer to hopeful, not hopeless; peaceful, not anxious; and free, not overwhelmed. In each chapter the author gives personal antidotes, Biblical stories or verses and truths to live by to bring peace and hope to our lives. I loved his personal stories as he talked about beginning a church, meeting and marrying his wife, having a little girl, financial strains and material desires and so many more. A down-to-earth author that I enjoyed reading!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 17, 2014
The author shares his story of depression. He has tips for working with anxiety and worry. I'm reminded of an album of movie themes, I could listen to each chapter again and again.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 7, 2014
Overwhelmed by Perry Noble is a book about how God reaches us using circumstances that feel overwhelming or disappointing. Compromising won’t cut depression and bad times can occur whether or not you’re a Christian with enormous faith. Noble points out signs indicating you’re heading for trouble and he tells how to overcome stress, anxiety, and the need to control. He reminds us that Jesus is greater than every problem, for He is our creator and redeemer. Noble also reminds us that above all we must avoid sexual sin and greed, forgive others, and remember God loves us in spite of our failures. Jesus says He’s our friend. Jesus loves us. Life is hard, but God doesn’t give up on us.
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Posted May 31, 2014
No text was provided for this review.