do not worry

I Have Been Missing Out

Do you wait for joy and peace to hit you in the head?

Photo sourced from EveryStockPhoto.com by familymwr, used under licence. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Photo sourced from EveryStockPhoto.com by familymwr, used under licence. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

I did. And I wish I hadn’t wasted years doing so.

I used to wait around for those feelings to magically appear, slogging through life until they did. When they came, I was happy. When they left, I fretted and stewed until they floated my way again. It never clicked that I could skip the stressing stage and chase after them.

Now I know that I have to ask God to help me change. I have to recognize my worries as a lack of trust in God and decide to put my faith in Him. It’s taking time, but it’s working! I wish I’d done it long ago.

Same with my relationship with God. Sometimes I’d feel really close to Him, but usually I wouldn’t. That didn’t bother me too much; I knew that emotions were fickle and not to be trusted. And it’s not like I paid no attention to God; I’ve always taken Him seriously and had a devotion time pretty much every day. But there would still be times when I coasted along, and times when I really dug in, chasing after God.

I’m lucky to now be part of a group that meets weekly, not for a routine Bible study, but to chase after God. We pray and sing and talk, and while I’ve been doing those things my whole life, there’s something special this time. We’re all meeting together because we want to seek God. We want to drive in closer to Him. We want to chase after Him. And He’s happily letting us catch Him.

Does this mean all things are easy? Most certainly not. We’ve all got stuff going on in our lives. But as I go after God more and more—with my friends and individually—I’m discovering again how I only ever really find myself in Him.

I think often people are afraid they’ll lose their individuality and become another zombie robot Christian, doing only God’s work and none of the things they’re interested in. But in reality, it’s the opposite. I’m only really finding myself, my purpose, my joy, my creativity and my individuality in God. On my own, I’m another zombie robot Millennial, busy with my family and job and hobbies. But the more I get to know God, the more I feel like there’s a whole other dimension out there that I’ve been blind to, and it’s so much more important than the things I’ve been focusing on. Wouldn’t it be sad to get to the end of your life and realise you’ve totally missed the point of it?

I’m starting to think that I need to passionately pursue God, even when I don’t feel passionate about Him. I always thought I was okay because I spent time with Him and obeyed Him. And I was okay—but I wasn’t great. Even though I was chugging along, I wasn’t chasing after more. I never prayed, “God, give me more of you.” But now I see that this Holy Relationship is like a marriage—even the happiest married couples never stop learning about each other. And the further you go, the greater the relationship is.

The leader of the group I attend often starts the meetings off by praying, “God give me more of You. I need more of You.” The first time I heard that I thought, “Huh. I don’t think I’ve said that before.” I was a bit surprised, because I’ve always considered myself quite serious about God.

As I kept coming along to the group (we’re called Project X—check out the website here) I’ve seen this example lived out in the lives of my friends. I’m seeing that I want to chase after God too. I’m not content with what I have of Him; I need more. Even though I already knew my purpose was wrapped up in God, now I’m understanding it. How can we get distracted with the world when, at the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter? And yet it happens so easily.

The more I know God, the less willing I am to allow myself to get distracted. I want Him. I need Him. I want to join in His work in the world—I want to be part of the stuff that does matter.

Sometimes a new TV series will come out on DVD or I get good ideas for my book and I’ll be very distracted by the world for a few days… or weeks. But if I pray for God’s help in loving Him, He will come through. He will help me love Him. He’ll help me not get distracted, He’ll remind me to practise discipline, He’ll show me how mind-blowing He is and how meaningless everything else is.

And slowly, inch by inch, I’m transforming.

 

Come near to God and he will come near to you.

James 4:8 NIV

…Anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 NIV (emphasis mine)

The Dance Floor

Photo source: everstockphoto.com. Photographer: Zabara. Used under attrition license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Photo source: everstockphoto.com. Photographer: Zabara. Used under attrition license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

The dance floor in my heart helps stop the wrestling match in my head.

Huh? She’s been cooped up in her office for too long.

No, I’m not crazy. Let me explain.

For me, it is a constant effort to keep God at #1. There is a wrestling match going on in my head at all times – sometimes of WWE proportions.

I love God, but I also looooooooooooove my writing. And while I’m working to follow God and use my writing for His purposes, the devil is still trying to exploit anything I love.

The temptation comes all the time. The nature of writing means it is continually on my mind, no matter what I’m doing. I listen to novel-writing lectures while I wash the dishes. I invent plots while I drive. I think about blog posts while I do my devotions. And nearly every spare moment when I don’t have to be anywhere else (and a lot of moments when I should be somewhere else), I’m typing away at my keyboard.

Writing is hard to break into, so I need to put in these hours. But it’s so easy to get anxious. I feel like I’m not working fast enough. I want to hurry up and get published so I can start getting paid. The self-doubt creeps in and I wonder if an agent will scorn my manuscript.

I can see how easy it would be for God’s voice to fade away – especially if all I’m thinking about during my devotions is what verse to use in my next blog post. Yes, my writing is full of God. But just writing – or knowing – about Him is no good if I don’t know Him. If I’m writing an article on someone, I can read a book about them, interview their friends and look at the work they did. All good stuff. But it doesn’t replace sitting down with that person over coffee and having a chat.

My counter-measure – apart from sticky notes on my wall reminding me to trust God and be patient – is a dance floor in my mind.

It’s my version of that verse in Psalm 46:

Be still, and know that I am God.

No thoughts about writing are allowed on the dance floor. I approach, wearing my awesome lace gown. God is there, in His tux. Sometimes I’m so amazed that He’s always there, I bow to the floor before He picks me up and we start to dance. Other days, I just run and hug Him.

After a while I might start to tell Him about my book. But only if I’m talking to Him about it, not just writing it in my head. But we don’t always talk. Sometimes I just let Him hold me, and as we stand there it slowly seeps back into my brain just how much He loves me. It’s like the love is soaking through my dress, my skin, into the core of my being.

Then I feel better. That’s when I remember who I am. I am not just a writer. I may not even be a writer at all.

I am a person God loves. That’s all that matters

.

They will be called the Holy People,

the Redeemed of the LORD;

and you will be called Sought After,

the City No Longer Deserted.

Isaiah 62:12 NIV (emphasis mine)

I Don’t Trust God

I don’t trust God.

That’s the realisation I came to just over a month ago.

morguefile trust

Sure, if you had’ve asked me I certainly would have said I trusted God. But my mental agonising, internal temper tantrums and occasional whinge sessions with my sister said otherwise.

There was a very real reason behind my worry. I was at a point where my life could go one of two ways; lets call them Option A (for Awesome) and Option B (for Boring, Bad, etc).

Needless to say, I really wanted Option A. The way this panned out would affect my life in a fairly major way. But there wasn’t really anything I could do to force Option A to become reality.

So I waited. And prayed. And hoped. And day-dreamed. And stewed. And got frustrated. And worried. And grumbled.

For six months.

I said I was trusting God. And I was, to the degree that I didn’t throw my hands in the air and walk out on Him. I trusted Him enough to stay with Him.

But I didn’t trust Him enough to allow His peace to calm me down. No, instead I went through the up-and-down rollercoaster of trying to trust God for about four days, before something gave me hope that Option A really could happen. Then I focused my thoughts on that hope. Then something negative happened. Then I focused on that. And despaired. And the cycle started again.

One day I woke up and realised how ridiculous this was. And what it said about my real trust in God. I knew then that I had to decide. I either took God at His word and believed that He knew best or I didn’t.

I chose to believe.

It lasted four weeks.

After four weeks, I allowed myself to get distracted again. I took my eye off the ball – off God – and fell down again. I lost my peace. But this time, I realised something else.

Option A is never going to happen.

So now I’m living Option B, and again I have two choices. Trust God, or just watch TV for the rest of my life. (TV is my drug of choice when I’m upset.)

I’m finding that trusting God – and the peace that follows – is much better. I’ve also learned that I need to pray for help in trusting God, and remember to do it. It’s now written on a sticky note and stuck on my bedroom wall.

Moral of the story? I’m not as good at trust as I thought. But with God’s help, I can do it. And trusting God is way better than the alternative.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Texts from the Queen

Yesterday I got a text message from Queen Lizzy (you know, the one who rules England). She said, “Tell me everything ur worried about. Hand the burdens over to me. I really care about u.”

disbelieving face stockxDon’t believe that one? How about this?

“Cast all your anxiety on Him (God) because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7 NIV

Even more crazy, but it’s true.

Personally, I tend to either take this completely for granted, or swing wildly the other way and feel like God doesn’t care at all.

What I should do is stay in awe of the fact that God takes the time and effort to share my burdens, and hang onto Him and not let go.

It’s the level of detail that really gets me, when I bother to properly think about it. The Bible says “cast ALL your anxiety on Him”.

Not only the big things, like my career (or lack of it). Whether my book will ever be published. Whether I’m saving enough money. Whether I’m making the right decisions.

All my anxiety. Every little bit of it.

How I’ll finish my Christmas shopping. How I’ll survive work today. Stressing that there’s no garlic bread left in the freezer (don’t laugh – we take garlic bread seriously in our home).

Why does God say ‘all’? Because He’s interested in ALL of me. He wants to know me. He wants to help me with my burdens. He wants me to trust Him. It’s all about intimate relationship.

Same goes for you.

And why would He want that?

Well, that’s a terrific question. We sure don’t deserve this kind of nitty-gritty attention. That’s what makes it so mind-blowing.

So, we have the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God willing to take on our worries and… we’re still holding onto them?

I often have to peel my fingers away from whatever is stressing me out, but I’m finding that it’s worth it. Pinky finger by pinky finger.

Does Anybody See Me?

Does God take any notice of me?

It’s a very good question.

With seven billion people scurrying around on this planet, it’s easy to feel like we’re flying under God’s radar. With so many people to deal with, how much time could He really have left for me? Is He even interested?

Image

I think that Jesus’ words, as recorded in the Book of Matthew, answer that question with a big fat YES!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they?

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

“If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matt 6:25-34 NIV (emphasis mine)

Jesus used a lot of words to hammer home this one basic point: do not worry.

God promised that if we put him first, He will supply what we need.

So what does that imply?

Number one: God knows if you’re seeking him first. So He must be paying attention to you.

Did you hear me?

HE IS PAYING ATTENTION TO YOU.

Not just Australia as a whole (though He is watching that too). Not even just your church as a whole. YOU. He is profoundly interested in the state of your heart.

And that leads us to point number two.

God wants you to seek Him first.

Him, and Him alone. Similar to how a husband wants to be the only man for his wife, multiplied by about a hundred million billion squillion.

God loves you enough to get jealous over you.

And that’s a pretty personal, intimate kind of love.