Now isn't that a question? Not worrying was one of my New Year's goals for this year. Interestingly, I've had lots of opportunities to practice this skill but not always very successfully. How do you not worry? Is it really a sin if you do? (this one I can answer - it is because we are commanded point blank 25x in the New Testament - I know - Ouch!)
I was getting some books at the library the other week and decided to look up a couple by Beth Moore. I had been wanting to read Get Out of That Pit, so off I went to that section. While browsing, I found another book I've been meaning to read - Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I took that one home too, thinking this will be a nice, little read encouraging me to chill instead of work. That is something I can totally relate to.
Instead, I found this paragraph: "The word used most often for worry and anxiety in the New Testament come from the same Greek word, meridzoe which means "to be divided, to be pulled in opposite directions, to choke"... The Old English word for worry menat "to gnaw." Like a dog with a bone, a worrier chews on his problems all day long. Jesus warned us specifically against this kind of chronic anxiety when he said,"Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life" (Matthew 6:25, AMP) Why is the Bible adamant about our avoiding fear and worry? Because God konws worry short-circuits our relationship with Him. It fixes our eyes on our situation rather than on our Savior."
Does that strike a sore spot in you too? I had to reread it several times, just taking in that truth. Worry chokes us. We swallow down those anxieties and they get caught in the throat - too big for us to swallow and digest yet still we swallow them down. The thought hit me that if I don't put something in my mouth, I have very little chance of choking on it. Instead, when I take a bite out of some circumstance or suck in that thought and let it wallow around, instead of trying to swallow it down, I need to spit it back out at God in confession, discussion or praise.
There is that simple song that says, "Why worry when you can pray", but it really IS that simple. "Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace which surpasses all expectation will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6,7) It's rather ironic that for years I told people this was my life's verse as I worried away and was filled with anxiety.
If we unpack that verse, the answer is very simple and right there for us. First there is the command - "Be anxious for nothing." It doesn't say try not to be anxious or strive not to worry, but DON'T DO IT! God knew that was hard to do so He gave us an alternative to anxiety - "but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Then He gives us the incentive or the WHY we should do this instead of worry - "the peace which surpasses our expectations." And what does that peace do? It will "keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." This is right where our minds need to be - not on the circumstances but on Jesus. (again another old song comes to mind - "Turn your eyes upon Jesus/look full in His wonderful face/ and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace")
In the next verse, Paul shares with us the way to avoid anxiety to begin with - what to keep our minds occupied with - "Finally bretheren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
I find it interesting that the very first thing on this list is what is true. How many times do we go down the anxiety rabbit trail based on untruth? I know I can work myself into a tizzy about what might have beens or even miscommunications or plain old untruths. The ONLY way we will know truth is if we read and study it in God's Word. Closely studying REAL truth tends to make things that are false more evident.
So there it is in three verses located in Philippians - the recipe to throw worry out the door for good. I have always thought not worrying was a nice thing to attain to, but surely God didn't expect us to really NOT worry about ANYTHING. But He shows us right here how to do it.
I am sitting here having a major DUH moment. It was there all along, but my eyes didn't see nor did my ears really hear (I mean how many sermons have I heard on this subject???). The light bulb has finally turned on for me. These verses work if we believe that God is good and we trust Him. Otherwise, we won't want to turn to Him nor will we trust His answers if we do. Maybe God just needed to lay the groundwork for the other things before He could turn the lightbulb on for me.
Isn't that just like God? He cares enough to prepare my heart and mind for a truth that is life changing so that when I get it, I can really get it. Don't we serve an awesome, loving, HUGE God?