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I have always been a worrier.
When I was five or six, I walked out of my bedroom and into the kitchen where my mom was washing dishes. In my little worried voice, I asked my mom, "Is my heart still beating?"
I don't know how at that age I knew that it was important for my heart to be beating, but I was very concerned that it had stopped.
That moment is my earliest memory of worrying, but it certainly isn't my first. I am very good at thinking up all the possible ways a circumstance can turn out. Of course, I never think of the simple, non-earthshattering possibilities.
The Bible is full of scripture that talk about trusting God and not worrying.
"And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You." Psalm 9:10
"But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation." Psalm 13:5
Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him, and He will do it." Psalm 37:5
"How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood." Psalm 40:4
"When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?" Psalm 56:3-4
"Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:8
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
"'Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.'" Isaiah 12:2
"'Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.'" Jeremiah 17:7-8
(All scripture is from the NASB)
In spite of all those verses, I had decided for myself that I just couldn't not worry. I was born that way, and there was nothing I could do about it. So on I worried, disregarding what the word of God had to say on the topic.
A few weeks ago, I went to a conference at church where Graham Cooke was speaking. I tried to find this particular sermon online, but I haven't been able to. If I find it, I will add it here.
Graham told us about a vision he once had of Jesus. He was looking at him sternly and kept saying to him, "Give Me My stuff back!" Graham questioned Him, not knowing what He was asking for. He responded, telling him that He wanted the anger, the fear, the guilt, the shame, the anxiety that He died for. "Give Me My stuff back!"
Jesus died to take these things away from us. Jesus lives so we know there's nothing to be anxious about. Click to tweet!
Honestly, I tear myself up on a regular basis, worrying about this, that, or the other. But Jesus wants the anxiety back. He died so I wouldn't have to be anxious, but I have taken that back from Him. I'll let Him handle my sin (except that I often "forget" that anxiety is sinful) and my eternity, but I can't seem to trust Him to take care of my everyday life.
As if worrying about it makes any difference.
As if imagining all the ways it will go wrong makes any difference.
All it does is distracts me from what's happening in the present that I need to deal with. It keeps me from trusting my Savior to handle things.
I walked away from the conference with a completely different outlook on anxiety. It was really an amazing few days. It seemed as if anxiety was completely gone from my life!
But of course, it's just not that easy.
A week or so after the conference, something happened that had me worried again. I mulled over what might happen, and what I would do if it turned out that way. Then I came up with another possibility of what could happen, and then I decided what I would do if it turned out that way. I was distracted from what I should have been doing, almost completely focused on all the possibilities.
And then I remembered. Give Him His stuff back.
So I told myself this:
It is what it is.
What will happen will happen.
I trust God to take me through it.
And in the end, what happened? Nothing at all.
I was turning myself into a worried, anxious mess over something that was nothing.
Really, that's how it usually goes for me when I get worried over something. But this time, instead of worrying about it for hours and hours, I shut it down, knowing that He would be with me, no matter how the situation turned out.
I want to end with a song that I listened to in high school. Ginny Owens' song "Free" has always been a favorite of mine, but it is especially suitable now. Putting aside the anxiety makes me feel freer than I've ever felt. I hope you love the song as much as I do.