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,
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
though its waters roar and foam