In the introductory post for this series, I did a bit of soul-baring about my growth as a Christian and pointed to Tom Greentree’s short but powerful article on that very topic. In it, Tom describes the three reasons Jesus gave why some Christians are like seeds planted among thorns – their growth is stunted and very little fruit is produced.
The first reason is worry (a.k.a. fear). I know full well that despite previous efforts, I still fall back into old worries or have never dealt with others. The stupid thing is that before reading Tom’s post I already knew what worry does, and the solution! Clearly my problem has been not following through on that knowledge.
Here’s Tom’s definition of worry:
What is worry? Worry is inverted prayer, where our minds comb through, again and again, the areas of our lives we feel in least control. Worry indicates our primary concerns–it’s what we fix our minds upon, what we wake each day thinking about. And worry is powerful, for under its power, it is difficult to experience the peace and power of God in our lives.
I’ve added the italics on the last phrase because that’s the problem, the kick in the teeth that worry and fear hit you with.
As to the solution:
What’s the remedy? We combat worry by praying the truth of Scripture…Recognizing all our concerns, we express them to God by receiving his truth into our minds, and speaking the truth back to God about our situation. Worry, turned to prayer, produces growth in our own lives.
Again, I’ve added italics to the last phrase because this is the payoff for trading worry for truth and trust.
Fine in theory
Like I said, I already knew the theory. I even blogged about it six years ago! Yet still I fall into worry and fear: Fear of rejection, fear of conflict, fear of crime, fear of aardvarks. (OK I made the last one up.)
I think one reason I fall back on worry is because experience has taught me that bad things can happen. To me. And since they’ve happened before, what if they happen again? Or different bad things? I guess this is where I need to use specific truths of Scripture in addition to the well-known “anti-worry” scriptures like 1 Peter 5:7 or Phil. 4:6-7. Those are powerful truths, but there are more weapons than that at my disposal. So (he said, preaching to himself), in regard to the fact that bad things happen, here’s a truth for me to declare:
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
So the bad news is that trouble is coming – inevitably. Jesus knew it – and experienced it. But the good news is that Jesus has overcome the world, and, as it says elsewhere, I am more than a conqueror if I belong to Him. What’s more, my heavenly Father really does love me, care about me and longs to give good things to me. And since my worry or fear actually does nothing to prevent bad things – and can actually hold me back from good things – I may as well leave it all to Him.
Have you ever gone round that thought circle that says, “Ooh, now I’m determined to stand on this truth I wonder what God’s going to allow into my life to test me?” Well, writing this blog is making me think that. Which can lead to worry, ironically. None of us knows what God may send to us to test us, or whether it’s just the normal circumstances of life. And there’s nothing to be gained by fretting, especially when He’s the perfect Father. So I have to combat it in the same way, turning worry into prayer, and anticipating the growth that will bring.
I don’t want my growth towards God to be choked by worry. So here goes, hopefully doing better, one day at a time.