Recently my wife and the Lord have told me that it’s time to start saying no to things. When life gets so busy that you’re double booking, forgetting things you’ve agreed to and are living exhausted all the time, you’re doing too much. Life has lots of demands by itself, then we start complicating it by adding things to it. If we’re not careful, we can get so caught up in doing things for our families, our friends, our churches and others that we forget to stop and rest. Worse yet, we can miss our quiet time with God.
Busyness is not necessarily a sign of Godliness. In our minds, it’s easy to equate the two, but there is a point where we just need to stop, sit down and feed ourselves mentally, spiritually and emotionally. When Jesus went to the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Martha was busy preparing food and serving her guests. She was doing what was necessary because she had guests, but she was stressing herself out too. That’s when she noticed her sister wasn’t even helping her. Instead, she was just sitting there listening to Jesus.
When Martha complained to Jesus, His reply to her was also to us. In Luke 10:41 He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things” (AMP). Each one of us should substitute our name for hers right there and know that God is ok with you slowing down, clearing your calendar and removing the things from your life that distract you from Him. Life isn’t about being busy all the time. It’s preparation for eternity. When you get to Heaven, you’re not going to be asked how busy you were or how much you accomplished. You’re going to be asked how well you knew Jesus and how well He knew you.
Photo by Karen Lau on Unsplash
Worry. It’s something that everyone deals with. Whether it’s about paying the bills this month, will we find true love, the end result of an illness, or any number of things, we all worry. I love that dictionary.com defines worry as, “To torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts.” Worry is nothing more than self-torture. It’s allowing our mind to put us into a debilitating prison where our mind thinks of every negative thing that may happen in a situation. Worry only looks at the negative outcomes.
If you’re a worrier, take heart. God wants to free you from that torment. I John 3:20 says, “God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves” (MSG). Not only does He know you better than you know yourself, He knows your future. There is nothing that is going to happen to you that He doesn’t already know about. I learned several years ago to trust that worrying didn’t solve the problem or change the future, so I began to hand my worry to Him.
I Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). I admit it was difficult to learn to hand them off to Him because I didn’t know what to think about or do since all I knew was worry. But that’s where Philippians 4:6 came into play. It says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (MSG).
Worry never changed the outcome of anything, but prayer has! Quit tormenting yourself and start praying to God about it. Release it to Him because He is greater than your worry and your problems. He wants to trade peace for your suffering. He wants to give you a lighter burden, but you have to be willing to exchange worry for it and leave it with Him. God cares deeply about you and the things you’re going through. Trust Him to do what’s best and give Him your worry. Give no place in your mind to anxiety and debilitating worry. Be free.
Have you ever just allowed your mind to worry? I’m sure you’ve been there where your every thought is consumed by all the possibilities. You replay the scenario in your mind over and over again until you can’t think of any good outcomes. Your heart rate goes up. Your stress increases. You get that feeling in the middle of your chest that something’s not right. Your sleep then gets affected and your exhausted because you’re mentally drained. It happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t have to. We don’t have to let worry consume our mind and lives. There’s a better way.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers…Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Worry takes a lot of energy. It takes a lot of time and effort too. God would rather we spend that time, energy and effort in prayer. That’s what David did when he worried. He spent a lot of time in dark caves hiding from people who wanted to kill him. His mind would wander in the darkness and worry would creep in.
It was in the darkness of those caves in the stress of worry that he wrote so many Psalms. We like to think of him as the giant slayer, but he was also a worrier. Writing the Psalms helped him channel that worry into prayer and praise. When we worry, we take control of the situation that we have no control over. When we pray, we give God control of the situation that He already knows the outcome of. If we can learn to hand that off on prayer, we can displace a lot of worry in our life and use the energy for productive things.
The scripture also said to let petitions and praise shape our worries into prayers. I’ve found that when I’m most stressed, most worried and most consumed with a problem that I need to break away and spend time listening to Praise and Worship music. When I begin to praise God and worship Him, I invite His presence into my situation. I invoke all of Heaven’s authority to come stand by my side and fight on my behalf. I’m then surrounded by God’s peaceful presence because He dwells in the praises of His people. When that peace comes over me, I begin to see the battle is not mine, but His.
Worry doesn’t change my situation, prayer does because it moves the hand of God. Worry leaves me empty and broken, but God’s presence makes me whole. Worry sees every negative outcome in a situation, but praise sees everything working together for my good. The choice is ours. I personally like the outcome of prayer and praise than worry and fret. If you’re caught in that storm of negative thoughts, put up an umbrella of prayer and praise today and let the peace of God that passes all understanding come and rule in your heart and mind. Leave worry behind. Give it to the One who already knows what’s going to happen and is in control. It’s a wonderful feeling when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
I got corrected by God this morning. In my prayer time, my mind was busy going on about all the uncertainties in my life. My mind jumped from my job to my car to my future to my family. I was all over the board with questions seeking answers. “What about this? How do I handle that? When will I know about the other?” My mind lit God up with question after question without pausing to listen. My mind would dream of what could happen in each situation. “Why can’t that happen, God”, I asked.
God quietly answered back, “You need to be more like Mary and less like Martha.” Immediately my mind went to the story where Jesus had come to their house. Jesus was in the living room teaching and Martha was busy in the kitchen preparing a meal. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet hanging on every word when Martha poked her head out of the kitchen and said, “Hey, Jesus, tell Mary to get in here and help me.” His reply to her was what He was telling me.
In Luke 10:41,42 He said, “Martha (Chris), you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it.” I love knowing the details, especially when my future is at stake. I get worked up and worry about them. Jesus simply reminded me that it’s in His hands. I can relax. What I need to concentrate on is sitting at His feet and listening to His every word. That’s where peace is. That’s where my answers are.
It’s when I seek Him first that all these other things are added to me. It’s not when I seek the answers for everything on my mind. It’s when I seek Him. God’s desire for us is to sit at His feet and to learn from Him. Somehow my time with Him gets hijacked by my thoughts and concerns. Instead of listening to His every word, I speak out of turn and try to make my petition known. I want someone to come help me.
Today, after that correction, I sat down and listened. I quit trying to bombard Heaven with all my requests. I quieted my mind, focused on Him and listened. He spoke peace into my life this morning. He’s aware of my needs and dreams. He needs me to be aware of His. God wants to share His needs and dreams with you too. He wants us to be concerned with what concerns Him. He wants us to be His hands and feet. That’s what it is to seek first His kingdom.
Where are you today? Is your mind filled with all of the what if’s? Are you having trouble worrying about all the details too? Jesus said there is ONE thing to be worried and concerned about. That’s sitting at His feet and learning from Him. Take time today to put aside your dreams, needs and concerns. Ask God what His dreams, needs and concerns are and how you can help Him. You’ll find that peace you’ve been looking for and the answers too.