Tag Archives: peace

Worry

2 Aug

I sat cross-legged on the bed in our inexpensive motel room, midway into our 900-mile trek. Our destination was the university where George hoped to get his doctorate. All our possessions were stacked in the rental truck and stuffed into the towed Datsun station wagon. Two dogs and a ferret occupied boxes in the back of our aging van, which pulled the boat. (“The Grapes of Wrath” comes to mind.) The university hadn’t yet accepted George into the doctoral program; neither house nor jobs waited. I read Matthew 6:19-34, which concluded with these words.

[Jesus said,] “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ . . . for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:31–34 NASB95).

I wrote in the margin, “Does this mean tuition, books, gas?”

I’ve heard the definition for worry is assuming responsibility God never intended us to have. Perhaps the key is distinguishing between God’s responsibility and mine. The passage above says our part is to seek God first. God knows us and adds to our life all necessary things.

Yet that’s an incomplete picture. Second Thessalonians 3:10b says, “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat” (NRSV). George and I worked extremely hard—maybe too hard. Remember how Martha worked as Mary sat at Christ’s feet? Jesus told her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41–42 NRSV).

Ultimately, God is our greatest need.

Still, we spend time worrying about so many things; most never happen. I realize we have legitimate concerns and God is not our fairy godmother. However, worry changes nothing. I’ve learned to do all I know to do and leave the results to God. We can trust His love and intimate knowledge of our needs. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT).

Paul said, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have” (Philippians 4:11 NRSV). That gives me hope. Replacing worry with contentment is something I can learn. The three years it took George to get his doctorate taught us remarkable lessons in contentment versus worry and faith versus fear.

Several years after my encounter with Matthew 6, I wrote the answer to my own question. “Yes— tuition, books, gas and so much more!” In spite of discouragement and fear, God provided material needs, emotional support, spiritual strength, and encouragement—always in His time. Life is continually a matter of praying, trusting, and waiting.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7 NRSV).

Singing Mountains and Clapping Trees

13 Jul

IMG_1211Every year I ask the Lord for a verse. In 2012, He gave me Isaiah 55:12. “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (ESV).

The previous couple of years had been challenging to say the least, and I yearned for renewed joy and peace. I claimed Isaiah 55:12 with no idea how God would bring it to pass. He was true to His word and eventually led me into this place of joy and peace. Our vacation in the national forest of Colorado brought all this to mind, as quaking aspen and gurgling streams reminded me of God’s faithfulness.

After three years, we’re once again camped in our 5th wheel trailer. My husband is an excellent fly fisherman and I enjoy photography. We delight in watching humming birds compete for a place at the feeder. There’s time for walking, reading, poking burning logs in the fire pit, and meaningful conversation.

We drove one of the “improved roads” up from our camp. The picturesque 10,000-foot mountain surpassed our expectations of beauty and fun. I couldn’t help but think of Romans 1:20. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (NIV). How can anyone witness the grandeur and beauty of creation and not recognize the Creator?

Isaiah 61 gives those trapped in physical, emotional, and mental affliction reason to clap and sing. Jesus proclaimed Isaiah 61:1-2 spoke of Him.

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He . . . found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4: 17–19, 21 ESV).

Isaiah 61 continues, “To grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3 ESV).

Did you notice Isaiah called us trees? We are to be God’s beautiful oaks of righteousness, bringing glory to Him. Christ heals our broken hearts, sets us free, and so much more. Therefore, we join nature in singing, clapping, and proclaiming His glory.

I’m No Spiritual Giant

29 Mar

Have you ever thought God meant some scriptures for spiritual giants, and you couldn’t possibly achieve such lofty standards? The following verses might fall into that category. (Italics mine.)

Philippians 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing.

Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Philippians 4:6–7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Or perhaps some statements in the Bible such as 1 Corinthians 2:16 seem just too good to be true.

“For who has known the mind of the lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

First Corinthians 2:16 is one of three verses with which I wrestled and which eventually became the basis for this blog and a Bible study I’m writing. Because God’s thoughts and ways are far superior to mine, I had no problem accepting the first part of verse 16 where Paul quotes Isaiah 40:13. “Who dares to teach God anything?” However, Paul’s next statement amazed me. “But we have the mind of Christ.”

Wow! That appeared too good to be true. At least it wasn’t true in my own life. It seemed unbelievable that I had the mind of Christ—since I made wrong choices, had unwelcome thoughts, and experienced unreliable emotions. Additionally, it’s tough to ignore mistreatment by other Christians. No way had they behaved like Christ. Yet that verse refers to all Christians.

What did having the mind of Christ mean? Since it’s in the Bible, I know it must at least be a possibility for me. Could it be a promise?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’re interested in my conclusions based on Scripture and clinical knowledge as a professional counselor, I hope you’ll follow this blog. I invite you to join me in the journey of renewing our minds and becoming all God intended us to be.