A Month of Worry, Christmas

Complete, Perfect, and Lacking in Nothing

I have this problem. I think it may be one of the reasons I worry so much. I am a compare-er. I am always comparing things, to find the better option. And the worst part is that I am always comparing the offerings of God with the offerings of this world.

Somehow, for whatever reason, I have grown up with my mind made up that there are things that I need. These things will make my life complete, perfect, lacking in nothing.

Wait…

Did you catch it? Did you catch what I just did, what I just said? Did I just ask for things of this world to make my life complete, perfect, and lacking in nothing. Haven’t I heard that somewhere else?

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1: 2-4, NKJV

I didn’t even hear it until I said it myself. I have gotten so confused, I have compared so much, that I just took words, God words, the Word, and tried to make it work with the world. As if the two could ever mix together.

I think you all know how much I love Christmas. Just in case, I’ll tell you again: I love Christmas. I could live in winter year round if it meant December every day. Christmas every day. But, just like every other thing about the season, I have let the manmade magic warp my wonder. I stare amazed at one tiny Christmas light, forgetting there is a whole sky of bright lights above me. I have let the tiny little lights on my tree glow brighter than the Light of the World.

I compare because I don’t want to wait. I compare because this world says, “Have it now. Have it your way. Have it just the way you like it.” But that is such a lie. Because when we have it now, on our terms, through our manipulations, we come out incomplete, lacking in everything. We aren’t satisfied in the world because the world doesn’t know us. It didn’t create us, it corrupts us. And yet, I am still confused when the corruption doesn’t satisfy. I need living water. I need water that keeps me from thirsting. From comparing. From trying to taste something better. God, let me see that I have living water. Let me taste it, let me drink from fountains that give me real, authentic, beautiful life. And let that living water wash over me. Let it restore and redeem the parts of me I let comparison take. And let it replace the water that leaves me thirsty.

Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

John 4: 6-14, NLT

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A Month of Worry

Where My Soul Can Breathe

And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and

with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Matthew 22:37, ESV

This post should be about worry. Because I announced to you all that I would write on worry for a month, as I began the battle to fight it. I never expected, on the night I made that announcement, that I would be accosted with so much worry in the coming days. But a battle had been waged. And it has been rough. My heart is raw from all of the fighting. My spirit is tired from all the movement. I want it all to be over. I want to be months ahead, able to say that a lesson has been learned and I have moved on.

But instead, I am still battling it out. And the more I try to fight, the more aware I become with how big of a battle it is. I have seen how one tiny seed of worry can grow into a giant redwood of fear. This seed is so tiny, and it implants right where it falls, falling so softly into soil that one hardly notices it. I didn’t notice when the seed fell into my heart. I didn’t notice as it slowly began to grow roots. In fact it wasn’t until the shoots came forth, with tiny, little leaves developing, that I saw the problem I had. And by then, it wasn’t a seed, it was something bigger, planted so deep in my heart that pain was bound to follow the weeding.

And like I said in the beginning, this post should be about worry. But instead, it’s about love. My great love. Because something I have come to discover, is that as I continue to recognize my worry, and as I dissect it to see where it has come from, I am drawn closer towards the antidote. And this antidote is so much more powerful than the disease it is fighting. It is something else entirely.

I never thought the answer to fighting worry would be to love God more. But of course, that is the answer. Because worry is a means of thinning my trust in God. And the less I trust Him, the less I seek Him. And the less I seek Him, the less I want to be with Him. And the less I want to be with Him, the less I love Him. And isn’t the greatest commandment to love God with all our hearts, soul, and mind?

I have been drilling into His word, and into Him these few weeks. I have come deep into the wells of scripture, and have found myself saturated in the oils of truth that He gives freely to those who want it. And as I have done so, I have discovered a craving for Him that I never knew I wanted.

When I love Him, fears dissolve. When I love Him, whatever place I am at in life is the right place. When I love Him, no other thing matters. Because when we love Jesus, we are finally in the exact place we were created to be. And our souls can breathe deeply in confidence, because they recognize where they are. They are with their greatest love.

“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—
is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the
friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and
all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties
you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no
human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with
heaven, if Christ were not there? ”

-John Piper, God is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself

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A Month of Worry

Ode to a Silent Night

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

I sit here tonight, wanting to be better than I am right now. I wish I could be a better example to those around me. I wish I could stand up and say I have no fears. That I am surrounded by peace, and that there is no reason in my mind to be anxious. There is something in Christmas that beckons for peace. Shouldn’t all be calm and mild around us, as we remember the Babe who came for us?  But the truth is that I am fighting with my heart as to what I will believe. And as I sit here, in the quiet of my living room, gazing into the glows of Christmas lights and garland my heart flutters between worry and trust. Will I believe in a God who is in control? Will I believe that every situation leading up to this moment was built upon a purpose that seeks to shape me more into the God I love. Or will I believe that my life is series of chaotic moments? That there is no heavenly peace in which to sleep, and I will continue to fight for the things I have always longed for, only to be continually disappointed by the ugliness and reality of life.

I can’t lie to you, the latter seems easier to believe. I have been sitting here writing and rewriting, hoping to receive some epiphany that would shock my heart into truth. Something that would excite and spin me around into a warrior’s stance, and get me through the coming days and weeks. I want answers. I want miracles. I want a plan that fits my plan. But tonight brings no plan, no miracle, no answer.

There is only a glow of the fireplace and a whisper. The whisper says, “Tell Me what you know.” And tonight I only have one answer.

I know this: God is not defined by my situation.

He is not who He is because of my joy or sense of wellbeing. He is not who He is because of my pain and discomfort. He is who He is because it is who He has always been. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He is Jesus, the God Glory. He is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is good.

And if my miracle was to come through in the morning, His goodness would not increase. And if my miracle never comes, His goodness does not decrease. He is good. He is infinitely good. Every morning, every moment, every day. And that is my miracle. My miracle is that God would wrap himself in humanity, leaving the glories of a home I cannot even begin to imagine, in order to say “I love you” to a girl like me. My miracle is that as I sit in this night, feeling the silence, there is also a definitive holiness here because He is with me.

He is good. He was good the cold night He came to be God with us. He was good that night that Golgotha tried to claim Him. He was good even during three days of sorrow, in which disciples could not see the bigger plan of a bigger God. And He is good tonight. The gospel has not changed. The Savior was here, and the Savior still is here. And He is just as good tonight as He has ever been.

He is good.

In my questions, He is good.

In my answers, He is good.

In this silent and holy night, He is good.

And with the dawn of redeeming grace, He is good.

 

 

 

 

*Silent Night lyrics by Josef Mohr.

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A Month of Worry

Homecoming

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.

Sufficient is the day for its own trouble.

Matthew 6: 34 NKJV

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.

Colossians 2:6 NKJV

Girl’s night began just right. There was fellowship, laughter, and a comfort that just fit perfectly into the holiday season. We were all gathered in the kitchen, laughing and eating as my friend Rachelle asked me to get the door. I knew something was up, because as she asked, all the other girls spread around finding a seat, as if waters were parted between us. Rachelle turned her camera on and began recording. I went for the door, thinking nothing. I may have had a few silly thoughts as to why I was answering this door and it was such an event to watch, but mostly I thought nothing. I opened the door.

And there she was. My best friend, Madison, all the way from Australia, stood at the entryway smiling, waiting for me. It was if this moment was always meant to be. It was as natural to her as any other daily activity. And yet for me it was too super natural to even fathom. I can tell you it was more than I ever expected, and my actions can attest to that. For as soon as I saw her I slammed the door in her face and ran from the room, too confused to say anything but “NO!” She gingerly walked into the room and approached me. As she wrapped her arms around me in full embrace I still could not comprehend what was happening. I could not hold the hug, but instead fell to the floor sobbing because once again my best friend was with me, and it was too good to be true.

Madison let me cry, and she sat there, waiting as I occasionally stopped to ask for reassurance that the moment was real, to which she readily answered, “YES!” And despite it all, despite my inability to believe she was there, she was. My lack of faith did not keep any of the opportunity from happening.

And so it is with God. For while we are so busily worrying about what may or may not happen to us, and the things around us, he is readily at work, pursuing, calling, preparing, and harvesting. He is actively working in order to present moments of his blessing and love. And even after he has presented these situations to us and we have seen his hand at work, how often are we still dumbfounded as to the very miracle we are witnessing?

Yet our lack of faith does not alter the situation. One can say the sky is not blue, but it does not change its color. And so I find, that my worry cannot change Gods working in me, as much as I have grown up to be taught that that is the case. Christ say’s “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  And I see that the reason I am called to let go of worry is because our God is all powerful. Worry is useless because even when we worry we are still being loved by a powerful God who is at work despite my ability to believe.

So then, if miracles abound in the midst of my unbelief how much more could be released into my life if I spoke with faith. How many more mountains could be moved? And if my life is created to showcase the glory of God, how much more could this “picture show” of glory tell a story of love and redemption to those who do not know Him. What if I only stepped out, with faith, to a place of belief. How could my story be different if instead of sitting in the room with my miracle, begging to be pinched into reality, I accepted what I knew or saw and therefore walked on, authentically stepping up towards faith and into higher plains of the supernatural? As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. 

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A Month of Worry

As Deep Calls to Deep

I am a stranger on earth. Do not hide your commands from me.

Psalm 119: 19

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;

All your waves and breakers have swept over me.

Psalm 42: 7

I am a stranger in a foreign world. I forage through cultures I have no place being a part of. I long for security and worry I will never receive it because I have tried to adapt to processes that were never meant to be secure for me. No matter how hard I try my soul does not fit into the mold of these worldly lifestyles I insist I be pushed into. Why do I say I will let go of culture to live counter culturally and still grasp strong to worry? It is not possible. For worry is the antithesis of everything I say I long for, and promise to live my life towards.

Last night, as I lay in my bed, the Holy Spirit struck me with so many thoughts. He said to me:

A fish cannot live on land. Nor can a bird live deep below the oceans. It is not even possible for them to find appropriate adaptations. There is no other option. For the very thing they need to live cannot be found in the other’s world. Their breath is accessible only through the life source of their world. A fish cannot live on land for it lacks water. Likewise, in the ocean a bird loses its air.

And so it is for we followers of God, in this world. It is not our world and try as we might, our souls will never actually breathe in this world. We may try to keep ourselves alive through vain attempts just as one may try to sprinkle water on a dying fish. But it does not activate the lungs, it is merely a tease, and leaves the creature longing for something it feels it was indeed created for but is never able to experience so long as it stays in this pseudo world. And so we stay in this world, desperately trying to adapt, growing more and more thirsty for what we see others experiencing and wondering why it does not function with the same capacity of satisfaction for us.

We are fish watching birds breathe air and wondering why we too cannot partake of the same pleasure. And we never realize we cannot because our hearts and minds are made of different parts than the birds. We cannot function like them because we are not of them. We will never be able to fly high as they do. And we grieve and morn and worry over this as if it was a loss to us. We forget we have been called to the deep oceans. We have been called to deep waters, for deep calls unto deep. And it is a depth that no other creature can experience as we can. And while we may stare into the skies and imagine what it may be like, for skies are transparent to the naked eye, no bird can imagine what holds for us deep below. For their minds were not created to understand depth. Not like ours do. Because they are not called.

Deep calls to deep.

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A Month of Worry

A Month of Worry

There is a fear that is stalking me. It has been following me on this journey since October. But time has been my comforter and I have always had it there to remind me that there was still opportunity for things to happen and answers to be revealed. I had a plan. I would give myself three months to heal, and then I would go back to school.

I spoke with various mentors to make sure my plan was solid. I prayed before making a move. And I waited to make sure I wasn’t acting out of impulse. And then I did it. In order to keep what little health I had, and possibly allow myself improvement, I quit my job and withdrew from school. It was done as a means of saving my GPA. It was done because I was plumb out of energy and life. It was done out of desperation to find any way of making all the pain and sickness stop.

The resting, along with a new diet change and hopefully a new lifestyle change, has helped. But it hasn’t helped the worry. This anxiety has been following me like a trail of smoke follows its fire. And in my mind the fear prowls. What will become of me in one month? What path will I take? Will I be forced to take something because no desired options have come to fruition? Will I be able to care for myself? Will my definition and God’s definition of care match up? As these questions stalk and hound me, a new fear has come alongside. I am afraid that, while I may finally stop this chronic disease attacking my body, I will never fight to stop the chronic disease of worry that attacks my heart. I know this is a make or break moment in my life. If I cannot keep this heart disorder from overwhelming every aspect of my soul, I will never live a life of courage and peace required of me by my God. I will never let go of the things of this world in order to step forward into a life driven by the desire to further His kingdom.

And so, because worry is trying desperately to consume my life, I am beginning a month long series of posts regarding it. And I believe it is applicable to the Christmas season. Because Christmas, as it should, builds anticipation in the human heart. It is not the most magical time of the year because of  the lights and gifts which we accumulate. Nor because of the celebrations and unions with family. It is magical because it stirs faith and hope within each soul, as we are reminded that there is more to our desires than what is found in the natural. The magic of Christmas steers us towards the supernatural, the things not found in us alone: love, joy, peace, patience, tenderness, meekness, gentility. These are the things the Christmas movies are about. These are the things we make room for in our heart. These are the things we want to experience in the season. If it wasn’t true, then the story of a grumpy, green Grinch wouldn’t have quite as strong a moral as it does. But these stories of Grinches, Scrooges, and George Baileys have nestled into the heart of the season because the characters find more than a happy ending. They find the  truth our soul longs for.

Anticipation.

Hope.

Do you hear the stirrings in your soul?

And so, as an act of worship to the God Babe who came to deliver man from his bondage of fear and worry and replace it with hope and joy, I offer you a month of worry. So that we can learn to cast off our fears, and look to our faith.

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