Do Not Worry – No, Really, Do Not Worry

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Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they?  

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27

I could be a professional worrier. I used to have an odd believe that crept up on me unawares, I believed that if I worried about something enough, it couldn’t happen.  Odd, I know. When my oldest daughter began driving, I worried about her getting in a wreck because of the roads being bad (Montana ice and snow roads) and I worried that she would drink and drive and I worried that someone else would drink and drive and an accident would occur and on and on. Seemed to be no shortage of things I could worry about regarding her driving. There was something addicting and oddly comforting about worrying. Surely those things couldn’t happen because I worried about them enough.

When her car became airborne and hit a power pole several feet up in the air, none of those reasons were the cause. A neighbor chose to check his mail by parking on the wrong side of the road and when my daughter came around the turn, she saw headlights in what she thought was the other lane. She drove to the right of them, right into a power pole.

My worrying had accomplished nothing. Even in my wildest worrying imaginings, I couldn’t have come up with this scenario. I’d like to say I learned my lesson about worrying, about what a waste of time it is, but alas, I didn’t.  My worrying had no power to prevent anything. Worry only stole from me. Worry stole my peace and my ability to enjoy the present moment. Worry gave me nothing in return.

“When God tells us in the Bible not to worry,

it isn’t a suggestion.  It’s a command.

Worry and/or anxiety is specifically mentioned twenty-five times in the New Testament alone as something we should avoid.”  

Joanna Weaver

Apparently God takes this “Do not worry” command seriously and understands our propensity we humans have towards worrying.

Maybe one antidote to worrying is found in this verse in the question – “are you not much more valuable than they?”

 The more I believe in God’s love for me, the more I can trust in His care for me.  

I am more valuable than the birds in the air and He feeds them. He will feed me.

He watches over them. He will watch over me.

 He created them and designed them to be unique.

 He created me and designed me to be unique.

He hasn’t turned his back on the birds. He won’t turn His back on me.

Heavenly Father, how gracious You are. You know me intimately. You know the minutes, OK the hours, I spend worrying when I could be talking to You. You have proven Your love to me over and over again. Please forgive me for the times I allow worry to preoccupy my mind and my time and my affections. Thank You that my life is in Your hands and You lovingly watch over me and mine.  You are truly  a good God.  Amen.

 

Great… Another Interruption!

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Be clear-minded and alert.

Your opponent, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion,

looking for someone to devour.

I Peter 5 : 8

 

Interruptions are a pet peeve of mine. Because I work with kids, when they are the interrupters, I use them as a teachable moment trying to help the kids look at the scene and determine the best way to get the attention they want/need at the moment in a way that is respectful of others. This probably comes up two dozen times a day.

When it is an adult that interrupts, I stop for a moment and practice what I have tried to teach the kids – I survey the scene, weigh out possible responses and determine whether this is the time for me to stop what I am doing or respectfully say, not now, please. One thing that has helped with these kinds of interruptions is for me to do less and create more time for them, knowing they will come. And to make peace with the fact that dishes can really wait.

Recently, we had cancer rear its ugly head in my husband and my daughter’s lives. I know God is our Healer and knew He had this in His hands, but still I found myself with a knotted stomach and clinched teeth and sleepless nights. I know better and I agonized over why I am reacting the way that I was because I do know better and yet, could not get clarity on this.

Several questions were asked in a discussion group I attend on interruptions, how we deal with them, what kind of responses do they elicit from us, do we see them as time wasters or God moments? This is a class on emotional intelligence. It wasn’t until thinking through these questions about interruptions that I realized why this was getting to me the way it was – because it is an interruption – a pet peeve of mine. These diagnoses stole resources (time, money, energy) from us that we had designated for better things and it made me angry, only I didn’t recognize it as anger until I could see if for what it is – an interruption. One I am powerless to change, so the teachable moment becomes mine. A moment for me to survey the scene, recognize the source and plan appropriate responses.
All easier said than done.

I have surveyed the scene, I recognize the hand of the enemy, our opponent, the devil and I see his schemes for what they are – an interruption – a device to steer me off course, a method to get me anxious and fretful and worried even if only for a moment. He’s still the same as he was in the garden of evil, trying to cast doubt on the goodness of God and all that God has provided for me and for my family members and for you. And my new more appropriate response – my God is able to restore all that has been taken because of this interruption. He is a God of restoration and healing and holds my husband and my daughter in His tender hands, close to His heart.

Thank You Father, for opening my eyes to the source of my anxiety. Thank You, once again, for being my Ever-Present Help in time of need and the Healer for my husband and daughter. Restore to them, I pray the resources that this interruption stole from them and bring them up to higher places in You, with You, for You. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

picture credit: inbound.co.uk

Casting My Cares

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Casting the whole of your care

all your anxieties,

all your worries,

all your concerns,

once and for all on Him,

for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

I Peter 5:7

My husband and son are planning to go casting today at a local pond. They both have new fly rods and have been waiting anxiously to try them out. They don’t have fishing licenses so they can only work on casting. I decided that in their absence, I would practice casting as well. I don’t need to leave home to do this, nor do I need a fly rod or a body of water; I just need a few moments of quiet with my Savior.

I am good at hanging on to cares and worries and concerns but right now I purpose to cast them off, to give them to Jesus and let Him take care of them. I made a list of concerns and cares and rated them from worst to not so worse. Then I separated them into likely to happen and not so likely to happen, and ones I can do something about and ones I can’t do a thing about.

As I write this, it seems odd that I would invest the time in that, but I found it strangely helpful. Almost like how a To-Do list helps me be more organized, providing I remember where I left the list. I gave some serious thought to this, working though what would happen should the worst case scenario happen. I decided that should it happen, I have done all I can to prepare for that and God will take care of the rest. I crossed some things off the list; when written in black and white they lost some of their power.

I’m not sure this is what Peter meant when he said to cast our cares, odd are, he didn’t make a list and check it twice, but I found it freeing. There isn’t a care on my list that is too big for God to be able to handle nor too small for Him to care about.  He is watching over me and cares for me more than I can ever imagine. What would be on your list? Anything too big or too small for God?

Father, how tightly I have held onto my list of cares and worries. So much so, that my stomach has been in knots lately and I have lost sleep. I pray You will forgive me. I know better, I know You have my life in Your hands and under Your watchful eye, but still the anxieties and cares got to me. I purpose today to cast those cares onto You and allow You to bring peace and comfort and victory on my behalf. If I try to pick them up, will You whisper in my ear that You are watching over me and that You care? I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

picture credit: sandscribbles.net

A Dangerous Read

Study to shew thyself approved unto God,

a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,

rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

 

“When Frederick Douglass’s master discovered that his wife, Mistress Sophie, was teaching this eight-year -old slave to read the Bible, he sternly forbade her to do so again. “If he learns to read the Bible it will ever unfit him to be a slave, he said, and in no time, “he’ll be running away with himself.” This, the renowned abolitionist Douglass later reflected, was the first antislavery lecture he had ever heard, and it inspired him to do anything he could to read more of the Bible. He recalls zealously gathering scattered pages of it from the gutters of Baltimore streets, carefully washing, drying, and collating them to read in secret. He had begun to realize what Master Hugh (and no doubt Mistress Sophie) knew – that there was power, indeed subversive, revolutionary power, in reading and interpreting the Bible for oneself, and that the institution of slavery in fact depended on controlling biblical literacy – who can read the Bible when and how. Many years later he wrote, “Let the reader reflect upon the fact, that, in this Christian country, men and women are hiding from professors of religion, in barns, in the woods and fields, in order to learn to read the Holy Bible.” Hiding, that is, from those who claim authority to say what it means, to control its interpretation. The Bible can look dangerously different when you read it on your own. *

That may seem like a time gone by, when people couldn’t read the Bible on their own, but oftentimes, people, even today, have formed opinions of God and His word based on something somebody told them sometime. God has been portrayed as harsh, judgmental, punishing, indifferent…the adjectives go on an on. Verses have been twisted to serve someone’s purpose and some people in some religions (here in America) are told not to read the Bible, leave that to the pros.

It’s so simple and yet profound: knowing God’s word brings freedom, subversive power and can actually be a threat to slavery. What are you enslaved to? a habit, a relationship, depression, chronic pain, loneliness, a substance, fear, feelings of unworthiness, anxiety…?  What if the revolutionary power of the Bible could set you free? What if some of the things you have heard about God simply aren’t factual? Is your belief system built on truth or slander? Your freedom from slavery may depend on getting to know God and His word on your own. But be warned – it could read dangerously different than what you thought!

I remember Father, the first time I read Your word. I was so shocked at how different You were from what I had been taught and believed. All of the years I had spent in slavery to fear and anger and feelings of worthiness and You set me free just from reading Your word. What an awesome God You are to love me so much that my freedom is upmost in Your heart and mind. Please help me to study Your word carefully so I can know You more fully. I ask in Jesus’s name. Amen.

 

 

*from Biblical Literacy by Timothy Beal

picture credit: anacostiaatscenter.com

Anxious Thoughts

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When my anxious thoughts multiply within me; Your consolations delight my soul.  Psalm 94:19

I’d like to say that I am breezing through this chronic pain with joy and grace and peace, but alas, that’s not true.  Oh, sometimes, it is.  Maybe even most of the time.  But often, in the wee hours of the morning when sleep has once again evaded me because of pain, my thoughts become anxious and they multiply within me.

Thoughts like when God when, why God why and please God tell me how to get through this.  When my brain is filled with the noise of pain and lack and the frustrations of not being able to do all I think I need to do, I lose sleep and peace.  How about you?  Ever lost sleep or peace over anxious thoughts that seem to multiply, sometimes exponentially?

In those moments, I have to purpose to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”.  I have to make a conscious effort to think on the character and goodness of God and reflect on His promises.  When I am able to do this, I find peace and sometimes drift back to sleep easily.  Sometimes, it is a song that consoles me, other times, it might be a Bible verse I have memorized.  Sometimes I just start listing the things that are good and right in my life. And I am consoled.

Father, help me to remember that Your consolations delight my soul; that Your word brings me peace and Your promises are Yeah and Amen.  I delight in Your word and the peace that it brings me surpasses comprehension.  You truly do exceedingly abundantly above all I dare ask or think and I praise You.  Thank You for rocking me to sleep on those nights when sleep is evasive.  Thank You for being my pathway to peace.  Amen.