It’s OK for Christians to be anxious

No, really, it is! I found it in the Bible. OK, so it's in the New Living Translation, which is a bit of a paraphrase but is my favourite for general reading. I find it often brings out meaning I would miss from the NIV, which is my standard “proper” translation. And I tend to find The Message a bit, well, distracting somehow. It, too, has its moments of clarity but I don't like reading chunks of it.

So back to the being anxious thing. Here it is:

You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.

1 Peter 4:2

Told you. While some may quibble with the translation, I doubt many will dispute that it is a good thing to be anxious to do what God wants, what with Him being Creator And Lord Of All and everything.

Apologies if you you were expecting controversy, heresy or some other aberration at which to be outraged. I don't actually think worry is OK at all (I'd go so far as to call it a sin – yikes!). Have a read of this post of mine on that topic and then come back here for the rest of today's deep insights.

There's another verse about doing God's will that I've always “liked” (in the traditional, rather than Facebook, sense):

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Philippians 2:13

(And that one's from the NIV, as that's the version I learnt it in back in the eighties when doing Navigators Scripture Memory.)

So I would thank God for that verse and comfort myself with the knowledge that no matter how badly I seemed to be doing, or however unfruitful my life was, He was at work in me so that I'd want what he wants and then go out and do it. Methinks, however, that I've been somewhat passive and not playing my part. Because Peter says I'll be anxious to do God's will, not just sitting there waiting to be inspired to want it. And he also says:

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

1 Peter 4:7

Earnest. Disciplined. Prayers. I need to ask God to bring this about in me. I need the power of the Holy Spirit enlivening and empowering me. I need to submit, surrender and make myself available to be compelled by the love of Christ like the apostle Paul was.

Fact is, none of that is new to me. But I'm coming back to it, and Him, afresh and looking to be that person who wills and acts according to His good purpose, anxious to do His will. I know He'll answer prayers like that, and already is doing. Please pray for me that I'll not forget, give up – or be anxious when I shouldn't.

 

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The Tyranny of the To-Do List

I love my lists. With lists, I am organised. I keep track of stuff. I get reminders to follow stuff up. With lists, I prioritise, categorise, annotate and schedule. I also remember what to buy when I go shopping.

I have electronic lists in Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Project and an iPad app called Errands. I have paper lists on the fridge and on the rather nifty notice board made from wine corks just underneath the spice rack.

Lists are good.

On the other hand, lists are bad.

On weekday (more specifically, workday) evenings, my list calls to me softly: “You have things to doooooooo…”. Frequently, however, on said evenings I have little inclination to do much of anything at all; I’ve always been that way and can’t blame my age. My list contains a variety of things domestic, church things, worthy things, ncessary things and even things trivial. Yet no matter how high I set the priority or how noble the task may be, there are (many) times when I simply cannot face doing a job or undertaking a task.

And so I fret. I compare myself to others who, it seems, have an immense amount of energy and a baffling capacity for working all the hours God sends and being constantly, annoyingly, productive. This, dear reader, is not me. And I need to get over it and throw off the tyranny of the to-do list, jettison the guilt, do what I can in the capacity God gives me and just quit fussin’ over what don’t get done.

Sure, there’s no excuse for laziness, and I do need to remember that I’m serving Christ in a lost world and that helping bring His kingdom in and serving His purposes is rather important. But if I spend the time whittling and not actually being fruitful I may as well not be fruitful and enjoy it and relax instead. Tomorrow is a new day and I will, no doubt, work for my employer then return home and see what the evening brings. What it should not bring, however, is mental anguish over how much I’m doing or what’s still not ticked off on “the list”.

In the Bible Jesus says that the burden he wants his followers to carry is “light”. I don’t for a moment think that means every day will be a bundle of laughs and that no hard work is required. He did say, though, that what He asks of me is in stark contrast to being “weary and heavy laden”. So when I’m both heavy laden and weary it’s time to get on my knees, tell Him all about my list and see what He tells me to do – if anything.