Sunday, November 27, 2011

why worry

I'd been wanting to write about this for a long time now, but when this next thing happened, I felt strongly in my spirit that I really needed to share this with everyone.

Well firstly, if you've read my blog at all, you'll know that one thing God has been dealing with me on, and helping me to overcome, is worry. Worry had become pretty much a habit with me, an instinct almost, so it is with immense gratitude that I say that God has really brought me far in my journey of conquering it. And as Joyce Meyer likes to say, I'm not where I need to be yet, but I thank God I'm not where I used to be.

So yes, sometimes I do have "moments". Or perhaps more precisely, "bouts". Much, much fewer than before though, thank God. Well, it was during one such bout that I cried out to God for revelation on what I needed to do to overcome worry. And God brought this phrase to my mind: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness".

The more I thought about it, the more I realised, with increasing clarity, that yes -- seek God first, seek His way first, and everything else will fall into place.

The whole verse is "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt 6:33).

I looked up the verse in its greater context and it was this: "Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on... who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life? ...

"But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides".

It came upon me with greater clarity than ever before that, as it says in Col 3:2, I needed to set my mind -- and keep it set -- on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. In other words, to put God and His way first. If I kept my mind on God -- His goodness, His faithfulness, His love -- then it wouldn't have the room or inclination for worry or fear or negativity.

So well and good -- I embarked on actively seeking, or putting, God first. And truly I tell you, it does, it really does, enable one to enter that wonderful peace of God, that peace that surpasses understanding. And God does take care of the rest.

But it has to be active of course, it has to be a continual, conscious, concerted effort. And if you've ever battled any sort of bad habit or addiction, you'll know that it's not something you have victory in overnight; you can still have those "moments" and "bouts". But thank God that He transforms us bit by bit, "from one degree of glory to another".

And so I kept on praying about it, and, in that amazing way God has, I was led to that "next thing" I was talking about. He somehow put it in my heart to go look up "Andy Stanley".

Now if you don't know, Andy Stanley is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church, Buckhead Church, and Browns Bridge Community Church. He also founded North Point Ministries, a worldwide Christian organisation. I certainly didn't know all that -- I had to Wiki it just now.

I didn't know anything much about him at all in fact, beyond having briefly seen him once on some Joyce Meyer broadcast, and even then I didn't really take him in. But on this present occasion, I felt in my spirit that I really should go look him up on Youtube, and more than that, to look up the words "Andy Stanley worry".

And lo and behold, up came a bunch of videos that had been uploaded by North Point Ministries, and the first on the list was entitled Why Worry. Well hello Pastor Andy Stanley!!

I listened to all three parts, and I have to tell you -- coupled with my earlier revelation, his messages really really spoke to me. I didn't know he was such an inspired, eloquent speaker. And funny too! I love the way he manages to bring the Bible home to us in this present age, such that it loses that distant, foreign quality it sometimes has. I'm so so glad I was led to search him out, and I wanted to just share some of his insights -- perhaps they will be helpful and transforming for you too.

Well the video in this post is part 2 in the series, which was particularly meaningful to me, but really, do try to listen to all three parts. Part 1 can be found here, and Part 3 here.

In part 1, Pastor Andy starts with Matt 6:24: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in)" (italics mine).

"The thing you worry about the most," Pastor Andy says, "is the thing you are most devoted to... the things that you worry about reflect your core devotions...

"Jesus says, 'I'm not discounting the importance of any of [the things you worry about]... the reason you're so worried is because you're so hyper-focused, and your devotion goes with your focus, and your emotion follows your devotion, and it's just a big mess and you're in a tailspin...

"'OK, [Jesus says], so if you don't like my plan... then go ahead and get hyper-focused on what about what about what about what about, and what if what if what if what if, and if it can't, and what if I dont... go ahead and get like super hyper-focused on all those things, and then ask yourself this question -- am I helping myself'?

"Let me ask you a dfferent way -- can you, by worrying in this now, bring certainty to the next now? Can you, by worrying today, create certainty in the next day? No.

"If I've done all I can do in the now that I do have some control over, can God be trusted in the next now that I have no control over? If so, I'm not going to worry. And I'm not not going to worry because I know whats going to happen -- I'm not going to worry because I'm trusting the only One that can do anything about tomorrow".

In Part 2, Pastor Andy considers v32 in the same chapter: "For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all".

"You don't stop worrying by trying to stop worrying," he says. "Part of the problem is -- and if you don't understand the problem you'll never embrace the solution -- it's a faith problem. Your faith is small. You've not allowed your faith to go the next step. You've not even followed your faith to its logical conclusion".

Particularly impactful to me was this: "If you're so stressed out and bent out of shape over all these things that you can't get to anything else, you're so distracted -- you're acting like people who don't even believe there is a God. You're living your life practically as an atheist.

"The issue is your devotion," he says. "The solution to worry is redirecting your devotion". And this is where that wonderful verse 33 comes in.

"But seek first... in other words, what you have been seeking first is the wrong thing, what you have been extraordinarily devoted to, is leading you to the valley of worry...

"Jesus says, 'I know you're freaked out, and I know you're worried... you don't stop worrying by trying to stop worrying. you stop worrying by exchanging devotions...

"You say, 'that scares me to death'... well, there's another option -- just worry. [You think] 'If I open up my hands and offer God everything, what if He takes it?' Well, what do you think is happening right this minute? Why do you think you're so worried? Because you can't control it anyway".

In Part 3, Pastor Andy shares some inspiring lessons from the story of Elijah and Jezebel which can be found in 1 kings 19.

In it, Jezebel threatens to kill Elijah "by this time tomorrow", and the prophet panics and flees -- despite having just killed several hundred Baal prophets by God's power. Afraid, Elijah runs for his life into the wilderness, where he tells God he has had enough and just wants to die.

"Isn't it amazing," Pastor Andy says, "how today's worries can erase God's past faithfulness". It is so so true. He tells of a couple who wrote him a long letter detailing how God helped them through their adoption difficulties -- he says he told them to keep a copy of that letter so that when some future incident arose which caused them to worry and doubt God's faithfulness, they would have that letter to remind them. Perhaps my own posts here serve a similar purpose.

"We're simply to do what we know to do today, and we're to trust God with tomorrow," Pastor Andy says. "And when those whispering voices come, and when all of a sudden your mind begins to go down the trail of worry, and you begin to make a decision that's going to take you off-centre -- that's when you need to say no, no, no, no, no -- God, I've done all I can do today, I'll see You in my tomorrow... I am going to walk into tomorrow confident that my God is with me".


Unknown said...

It's kind of like patients, you just got to be patient and let the trials past in full faith.. witch i can understand is really hard. but just keep pressing forward :]
So I need help getting a scholarship to collage, would you like to help me?
All you have to do is "Like" this page:
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Ashley said...

I love this. And I needed to read your words and Andy's too as I start my day trying to place my focus and energy heavenward instead of inward. Many thanks!

Amy said...

so beautiful, janice...I love every word. I am going to print this out so that I can read it again and again. Thank you...perfect.

Blessings! xox,

Erika Beebe said...

Great post! It's nice to know others struggle through so many of the same feelings and emotions and we can all learn and help each other find the strength and courage to have faith.


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