And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?* If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:25-26
This may be one of the most recognizable scriptures of all time. Even if you haven't read the Bible, you've heard that it says not to worry.
That's all well and good, and of course Jesus is right, but it isn't that easy, is it? It doesn't tell us how NOT to worry. In fact, we can get to the point where we begin to feel guilty about worrying and worry about THAT. More to the point, anxiety can be part of a mental health issue. We may have worried ruts into our brains that make it incredibly difficult not to worry. So, a few words on the how:
1) There are many issue that affect our ability to avoid worry, but guilt about it isn't going to help. So stop the guilt. Let it go.
2) Write it down, ask yourself why, and make it worse. Usually, the worst thing is still manageable in some way.
3) Limit Caffeine. The scripture says not to put God to the test, and we can't pray for peace at the same time we're giving ourselves the jitters. It really does make a difference.
4) When you are worried and anxious, focus on relaxing your body. It can trick your brain into thinking everything is ok, which helps change your thinking. Gentle stretching, muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can really help.
5) Laugh and smile. Again, you are giving yourself body cues to know it is safe to think happier thoughts. The smile works even if you fake it, and the laughter you can borrow from sitcoms, comedians, or funny books.
You can worry less, it is part of what Jesus wants for you. But he doesn't expect you to white-knuckle your way out of it. It can be learned. It can be practiced. Jesus can help you.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. James 1:22-25
I laughed out loud when I saw the above quote. And immediately thought, "yes, that's me"! But then, I was a bit more shaken by the idea. Yes, that's me. It is me when I know the scripture, and let it languish in my mind instead of living in my life. It is me when I know the powerful words, but have lost my connection with the Master who gave them to me.
The scripture is Holy. The Word of God is full of power, full of answers, full of joy and peace and help for all manner of trouble. It is full of commands for how we treat one another and how we behave ourselves. And knowing the Word is really important. It is where we must start. When the kids began to take Karate, they were taught the name for their uniform, taught how to count to 10 in Japanese, the words for the moves. And that is all well and good.
But counting to 10 in Japanese is pretty useless in a fight. The scripture is meant to be alive in us, acted upon and lived out. The word is to be done. Rick Warren had a good idea about how. When you have read your Bible for the day, don't leave the time of devotion until you have written out an action item. What should that day's word make you DO?
...but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough. Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the complaints I hear most, and frankly one of the complaints I have the most, is exhaustion. People are weary, tired in body, mind, and spirit. There are many reasons, trouble sleeping, technology, increased financial worry, loneliness and disconnection, less exercise, and chronic illness. For all of these issues, there is plenty of wisdom out there in books, magazines, and on the internet about how to have more energy. And many of them can help and will help your overall health.
However, there is a weariness of spirit, that no amount of sleep or spa weekends can help. It happens when we lean on our own understanding. It happens when we trust our own strength. It happens when we face into the future alone and have deluded ourselves into thinking it is in our hands. That is too great a burden to bear.
Emerson is spot on about the energy the horizon gives you. When you see where you are going and that there is an end in sight, you are somehow much more enthused and energized. However, that is impossible for life in general. We might see the end of a project or a season, but we can't have everything in view.
When we wait for the Lord, the strength comes because it no longer has to come from us. It isn't the strength of our wings that makes us fly, but the lift of the Holy Spirit underneath them. We can stop flapping about and simply soar. How might you turn your eyes on the King today and let God be your strength?
We spent so long in snow and ice, so long waiting for the spring buds, for the dawning of the warmth. Today, whatever the whether may be, praise Him.
BY GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS
Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
It came to my attention recently that not everyone knows this important and powerful song. It doesn't have a lot of words, but they are vital: There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain."
Galatians 5:1 tells us, "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
Christ set us free so that we could BE FREE! What a concept! Jesus has the power to break the chains of anything that would bind us. So, what chains? Anger, addiction, prejudice, violence, fear, hopelessness are a good start. But you can't let him break chains you don't know you don't have.
Once you know your own chains, you also must know this important truth spoken by Fannie Lou Hamer, "Nobody's free until everybody's free." We are bound by the chains of our brothers and sisters. And Jesus has the power over these chains, too. It is just as important to see the chains of others as our own, and to commit ourselves to work with Christ to break EVERY chain. Then, our freedom will be complete, at least as much as we can attain this side of heaven.
Come worship with us tomorrow at 11 am to know more fully the power of Christ.
You can digitally download this wonderful song by clicking below:
Rev. Jana Quisenberry is the minister at Brightwood Christian Church. She's an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN, She now resides in Mt. Lebanon with her husband, two children, and dog, Sookie. Pastor Jana loves the church, science fiction, and coffee.
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