Emergency Powers

Monday, October 18, 2010

A few nights ago I had fallen into a deep sleep when suddenly the phone rang. I sat straight up in bed and my heart began to pound the way it does when my mind tells my body, “An alarm has sounded, get moving…now!” It turned out to be a wrong number but at that point my body was in overdrive and it took a couple of hours for the adrenaline flow to get back to normal.

The “emergency powers” of my brain had activated my body. We all have these emergency powers that lie dormant as we go through the routine of daily living. However, in extra ordinary circumstances, we are able to call up extra powers. The brain has powerful hormones that are intended for short-term duty in emergency situations. The emotional and physical responses we have to stress are set in motion by a series of chemical releases and reactions. When we deal with emotional stress, our bodies react in order to help us cope. The term stress is short for distress, a word evolved from Latin that means "to draw or pull apart." When we’re “stressed out”, most of us probably think we’re being pulled apart. In fact, our typical response to stress is “fight or flight.” When we’re under stress our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) turns on a fight or flight response. The SNS rapidly prepares us to deal with a perceived threat. Once this stress response has been activated, the system keeps us in a state of readiness so that we can deal with the problem at hand. Hormones are released that allow us to cope with a stressful situation. Our adrenal glands release adrenaline that increases our breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. We then have more energy and our senses become keener and we are less sensitive to pain. This system is put in place to help us in an emergency situation only.

Unfortunately, some of us stay in this emergency state day after day, “living on the edge” or “wired.” If we continue to live in a high level of stress, our bodily functions will suffer. Our growth, reproduction, and immune systems go on hold, and we increase our chances of getting sick. When we have a continuous stress hormone release and daily compromised immunity system, we end up with what is sometimes called, “adrenal fatigue.”

It’s important to calm down this emergency system and let our body return to normal. The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) promotes the relaxation response and is responsible for helping us to regain our metabolic balance. If our minds and bodies have been called on to deal with stress for a long period of time, we will need to make a conscious effort to relax. Our systems are typically slow to calm down. The job of the PNS is to help us “rest and digest.” The PNS works to save energy so that our blood pressure decreases, our heart beats slower, and digestion can start.

I’m thankful God designed our bodies so that we can cope with emergencies that come our way. The greatest source of emergency power though is found in a deep abiding faith in Jesus Christ. In his words,

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Popular 19th Century minister Charles Spurgeon put it this way -
“Come to Jesus by quitting every other hope, by thinking of Him, believing God’s testimony about Him, and trusting everything with Him. If you come to Him, the rest He gives you will be deep, safe, holy, and everlasting. He gives a rest which develops into heaven, and He gives it this day to all who come to Him.”

Real rest is in Him!


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