Posts Tagged ‘Christian encouragement’

To worry or not to worry… That is the question…

Today, I want to encourage a friend of mine.
 
Someone who is worried—living in fear. I want to do this because I know what that’s like and it is a miserable existence.
 
I want to tell this person not to worry about tomorrow; but I know what he is thinking, because it’s what I used to think when I would see posters like this, “Yeah, right.  I mean, it’s a nice thing to see in calligraphy or stitch into a pillow, but who can really take such a thing seriously in this day and age? When there are bills to pay, kids to send to college, a friend facing cancer, a best friend whose life has just been flipped upside down by divorce, loved ones facing transitions and hardships that seem to never end. Great concept, just not so doable in the real world.”
 
That’s what I would have said a few years back so I must be careful. Do I not still worry? Is it hypocritical for me to encourage him in this way?
 
I don’t think so and here’s why: progress. There was a time in my life that worry and fear were a way of life.  Thankfully, that time is over. I still have times where I falter, but when I look back and see the progress, I want to share what I’ve learned; it has been truly life-changing.
 
Something I have found to be true is that is that worry for us is actually a design problem.  We have minds and they have a clear purpose, but we were not DESIGNED to be overloaded with worry, anxiety and stress.
 
When I was little, I remember my brother and I being amazed at the architecture of a building or bridge and asking my dad (who was a brilliant engineer and the smartest person I have ever known) about how the structure was made, or how it worked, etc.  I distinctly remember him explaining to us, about a bridge for example, that it was designed to withstand a certain amount of pressure and weight. Dad would point out that it was also designed to withstand weather conditions and stress and even to handle more than a said amount, in the case of an emergency.  The engineer would design the thing with a certain purpose in mind; as long as the structure was used properly, for this intent, it would function well without issues.  The only problem would come when too much pressure or strain was added above and beyond its set limitations, or if it was used improperly—for something not in keeping with its original design.
 
I believe this same principle applies to us. We are designed by God, for a purpose. We are created in His image, and have the ability to think, create, dream, and accomplish amazing things. God designed us with a mind to be used for certain tasks and with incredible creative potential and power. Where we run into problems is when we use our mind in destructive ways that clash with our design.  We can plan and imagine and hope, but when we cross over into fear and worry, we are adding stress and pressure that we were never meant to endure.
 
“Come to me, all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”   Matthew 11:28 (I think Jesus was talking about the mental burden here and not a 300 lb sack of potatoes.) 
 
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  Matthew 6:27  
 
Ask yourself why Paul says in Phillippians 4:8, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
 
I believe it is because Paul knew, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, how powerful our minds were; he also knew that we were designed to use them for true, noble thoughts and not fearful ones… Paul, who knew contentment in all things like no-one else, knew we were meant to be ‘Trust beings’—connected with our creator at the very core.  
 
In the moments we accomplish this, we achieve the perfect peace talked about in Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.”
 
As soon as we stray from trust, fear enters stage right and it is not pretty. With fear comes a lot of other nasty harmful emotions that blind us, distract us, even paralyze us.
 
As long as we are operating as we are instructed, “Trust in the lord with all your heart,” and NOT in the way that we are forbidden “Lean NOT on your own understanding” we will prevail against fear and worry.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)
 
As long as we ignore this command and lean on our understanding, we will be crushed under the weight of its load. We are using our minds to try to sort out and untangle what is not ours—the future. We can plan and dream and make decisions that affect our future in positive ways without WORRYING and FRETTING and ANALYZING all the potentially negative outcomes. We can focus on what we can control (which is often very little) and let the rest slide away, because our God is faithful and is working all things together for our good. 
 
This is not something that comes easily for us, because we have fallen away from trusting God; we want to trust ourselves. We don’t want to rely on God for everything and certainly not to walk blindly through the rest of our lives without something tangible that we can put our hands on—we want CERTAINTY.  I think God often takes us to a place where we have no choice but to face the facts: There is zero certainy about ANYTHING except Him. And the journey to this realization is not a fun path. However, it IS the path to freedom, because on the other side is PEACE. 
 

Perfect Peace and the exact opposite of fear or worry. It is a beautiful thing and when I am there, I never want to slide back.  That wish makes me think of Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  

I still do fall back sometimes, but more and more I stay in that beautiful place of peace, and that is enough to keep me pushing for more, trusting more and learning more about how to stay put.  

Trusting God—by faith and NOT sight.  Living in rest, in peace.
THAT is the life I want for myself, my children, my friends.

I want my friend to know that God does NOT want us to fear, because fear makes us WEAK. It makes us BLIND. We end up second guessing ourselves, working hard and not smart, relying on our own efforts instead of the holy spirit, and being pretty much in a state of constant anxiety. MISERABLE. That is the life that Christ died to free us from and we do NOT have to live that way.

The fear thing—its not from God and its not helping us. Like Jesus pointed out, worrying can’t add a single hour to our lives.  It has to go.  

When we really trust God, we will have indeed have perfect peace.
When we don’t, we won’t.  

It may not be easy, but it IS possible with God’s help and with the knowledge that we were DESIGNED for a life of PEACE and REST.  

So Don’t Worry About Tomorrow.  Really! 
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A Vision – The Race

Flashes of light… shapes streaming past.
Thundering feet, heavy breathing, seeing them cross.
It’s a race.  
I’m watching from the sideline.
All ages, all sizes, more than I can count,
whizzing by the across the finish line—zoom, zoom, zoom.
A race.
We are all running.
It’s over in a blink.
Dad already finished.
What a race! He brought me glory.
It’s over in a blink.
But Mom—it’s so hard.
She will cross in victory; he is there waiting.
He was such a great runner, is that why he finished first?
He would be rooting for mom, cheering her on.
His smile watching her run—the biggest ear-to-ear grin the world has ever known.
She’s making me proud.
He’s proud too.
He’s here, with me—at the finish line.
You—your race..focus straight ahead.
Fix your gaze directly before you.
It’s over in a blink.
I’m here, now—with you.
I’m also there, then—at the finish.
Run with purpose. Bring me glory. Finish strong.

My dad passed away last April.  I’m doing well, but sometimes I still feel as if my heart will melt from my chest for the grief. He was given 75 years, and he filled them with integrity, character, purpose, and truth. I was thinking of him last night and a wave of grief started to come; suddenly however, it was replaced with this vision. With the images in my head came whispers of encouragement. They were so real, so strong, that I had to share them here.
A few months ago I watched my husband and stepsons run in a race. My daughters and I were positioned by the finish line. As the runners started to finish, I intended to take pictures of our victors as they crossed over, but soon it was clear this was impossible. This race had too many people. They were everywhere, passing so rapidly you couldn’t possibly move your eyes quickly enough from face to face in time to react. Zoom, zoom, zoom they flashed by—all ages, shapes, sizes, speeds.  Some were going for it like mad, others barely dragging along. Yet they all crossed over.
The vision i had last night was like this. Like the sands on the seashore so many people. Our whole family was running, and I could see Dad at the finish line, could hear him yelling for Mom.  She was struggling a bit, but she was running and he was smiling so big. That was my dad. He loved my mom so much; he was so proud of her.
I feel so clearly God gave me this vision.  The words in italics were whispers I kept hearing. Your Dad was a champion. Don’t focus on loss, focus on his victory—he ran his race and finished in glory! He’s waiting, like me, at the finish. Remember the race he ran—the example. Celebrate him. Be like him. Keep running.  It’s over in a blink.
I feel this tremendous weight—the brevity of it all.  People tell you when you are younger, it goes so quickly.  I get that now more and more. Memories from 20 years ago; how was it that long, how is it possible?  Time slipping by, so quickly.
Losing Dad was and is one of the hardest things I have ever faced in my life.  Yet I thank God for visions like this—they are reminders.  They are a gift to help us run with purpose, with meaning, without weights dragging us back.
Because as Christians, this race doesn’t end at the finish. It begins.
Look straight ahead. Make every second count.
It’s over in a blink.
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Never Fast Forward Your Life!

E4C_NeverFastForward

My kids have gotten used to me saying these words over the past few years. 

It has taken far too long for me to see that every moment is a gift.

No matter what I would like to happen tomorrow, or how I might like to change certain circumstances, I can never get today back; and today is where all the magic happens.

It’s so easy to be playing a waiting game in your head…
“when THIS happens…”

When I get to high school…

When I get to college…

When I get married…

When I have kids…

When I pay off my debt…

When I retire…

When I….  (fill in blank here).

I call it “fast forwarding…”  And when I do this I miss out BIG on amazing things that are right in front of me. RIGHT NOW.

NEVER Fast-Forward Your Life!

Embrace every stage of your life.  Every single day. Every single moment.

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