A few weeks ago I attended the Orange Conference in Atlanta with 8,000 of my closest friends. The focus was on ministry with families, children and youth, but the take-aways were profoundly larger than that. I had the blessed luck to fall into a seminar with a comedic genius named Jon Acuff, and I am still feasting on the manna he poured out that day. In fact, part of the reason I decided to go ahead with starting these daily devotionals is because of this one hour session of encouragement to risk-take.
One of the many great things I heard that day is, “Don’t give real time to fake worries.” Let that just settle into your brain a minute. Take another sip of coffee, and let’s dwell there for a moment.
How many times have you spun out with anxiety over something, only to see it through in real time as the no-big-deal that it truly was? How many hours of sleep have you lost fretting over something, only to wake up to the reality of:
1. It wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be.
2. It was already being taken care of.
3. You had no control over it anyway.
4. It looked much smaller in the daylight.
Yet you spent real time obsessively worrying over it. Time that could have been spent more productively.
I spent a lot of time, and I mean a LOT, worrying about my parents’ deaths. Perhaps this is a preoccupation of pastors, since we sit with a lot of families alongside a deathbed as part of our pastoral care. I can remember in my early years of ministry making the fiftieth visit to a home where someone was slowly dying of cancer, and driving away thinking I could never have the strength to watch my parent linger like that. This worry fueled many a sleepless night.
As it turned out, my father came home from the grocery store one day with a headache and died of a sudden brain aneurysm, and my mother died in her sleep. I was with her that evening, and neither of us had a clue she would die in a few hours as we kissed and said, “See you tomorrow”. And so all those years of fake worry in real time only robbed me of peace in a situation I could not control anyway.
Psalm 46 breathes a word of sanity into our spinning:
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
God is looking at your anxiety this morning and whispering, “I got this.”
Jesus reminds us:
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Today, let’s take that worry and cast it out. Let’s bundle it up in newspapers and carry it out to the curb. Let’s approach the throne of grace and lay it down. AND THEN LEAVE IT THERE. The only beneficiary of our worry is the Enemy, who loves the distraction worry brings into the abundant life Jesus is trying to give us. Don’t let him win.
Gracious and Loving God,
Help me let go of the fake worry that consumes me. Fill me with calm reassurance that you’ve got this, if I let go of it. Teach me your ways so that I know your power to set things right in my life if I let you. Ease my anxiety, and fill me with your peace. AMEN
Dear Pastor Betsy,
Thank you for this beautiful reminder that Our Heavenly Father is in control of all things. We just need to rely on Jesus’ strength, instead of our own, by taking each day one at time. Our Blessed Saviour will lead us safely to our Heavenly Home in His Own Time.
Love, Nancy Jones ♥♥♥