I've been doing a bit of worrying lately. I know, I know... pastors shouldn't worry about things. The sad fact is, even though I am probably considered a "professional" Christian, I am actually more of an amateur when it comes to most of it.
Take the worrying, for example. I have known what it's like to feel perfect peace about a decision I've made, a problem that is before me, a crisis that I have to face. I know that feeling, and it's amazing. But sometimes in the midst of dealing with decisions, problems and crises, I find myself having a hard time connecting with that feeling of peace.
And most of the time the reason why I struggle to connect with that feeling of peace (one that should be familiar) is because I am trying too hard to control the outcomes. When I struggle with God over control of my life, when I am trying to hard to wrestle the wheel away from Jesus... that's when things can go very, very wrong.
Sometimes, I even start to work against God's purposes by doing dumb and self-destructive things. I remember when I was fighting God's calling to go into ministry, I walked around morose, miserable, angry, worrying about everything. I was working on a Master's Degree in History, and having to drag myself to class every day. Everything in my life became a chore.
I started seeing a therapist, who made me take a bunch of tests. He showed me the results and pointed to a graph with his pen. "See that line? That's the baseline that denotes depression." I nodded. "See this other squiggly line? That's you." I noted that my squiggly line dipped below the baseline. "Yep," he said to me, "you're depressed."
I'd like to tell you that my transformation was miraculous, but it took some time for me to figure out I wasn't in control, and that worrying my self sick wasn't going to make my problems, decisions or issues go away.
The Apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the Philippians:
Do not be anxious about everything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)
E. Stanley Jones once wrote, "We are not meant to be reservoirs of worry. We are instead channels, attached to infinite resources." I love that quote. The feeling of peace that I long for when I am in the middle of worry is not far away. The "infinite resources" that Jones is talking about come from God, who is never far from me. And all I have to do to access these resources, and the crazy-awesome peace that come with them is to reach out my hand, so to speak.
You are not a reservoir of worry. You are attached to infinite resources of peace and hope. If you are worrying today, pray that God will cover your worry with his peace. If you are fretting over the future, ask God to give you the crazy-awesome peace that doesn't make any sense. And then simply be still and know that God is God and you are not.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.