As I recall a very important turning point, nearly twenty years ago, I was lamenting to my husband how worried I was about the coming winter and my husband lovingly said to me, “Sweetheart, it’s a sin to worry.” O, that’s not the answer I was looking for. I think I wanted his conciliatory comfort and agreement. I even think I wanted him to lament the situation with me. But not really. For I really know I wanted to be right with the Lord – I wanted to have the right response of faith and not of unbelief. And I really know I wanted him to have the right response. It’s what I really always want from him. It was truly a loving thing to tell me — that it was a sin to worry — for it was the truth then, it is now and has been in all the years in between that day and this. In worrying, we take God out of the equation of our lives — we put Him in the passenger seat, the back seat or even out of our ‘car’ — and we live apart from Him, apart from faith and *in* fear. The close kin of worry is fear. And the author of fear is the enemy of God and of my soul.
A sneaky little word, though, has crept into my life many times over the years… it’s a word that occasionally means worry, occasionally it means afraid, occasionally it means nervous, and occasionally it means doubtful. I’ve had to keep this little word in check through the years, just like I have had to keep that little word, worry, in check through the years. The little word is: concern. Concern usually creeps in under a coat of unthankfulness. Walking hand in hand with doubt. Carrying lack-of-faith. Concern is a master of disguise – it’s the kinder, gentler word for worry.
You know, it’s the:
“I’m so concerned about __________.”
“I’m concerned that________ is (never) going to happen.”
“I’m concerned about you.”
“I’m only concerned about your health.”
“I’m just concerned that you won’t be able to do_________.”
“I’m only concerned about how we’re going to pay the bills. That’s all. Really.”
Matthew 6.25, 31
“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”
“I’m just concerned about how things will go and I’m concerned I won’t know what to say.”
“But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.”
“But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.”
So where does worry and concern fit in with, say… being thankful? If I am living, being, thinking, hoping THANKFULLY – then I can’t or won’t be thinking in the dangerous realm of worry – or even in that kinder, gentler realm of concern. I sure see through the years that when I am worried, anxious, concerned… over many things, I am never, or very rarely ever, in a prayerful, thankful or even joyful way. I have often said that faith and fear cannot be carried in the same bucket. And whatever’s in the faith bucket, the moment I decide to carry fear, I have nothing to do but dump the faith bucket and let it contain the fear. It’s a choice I make — a conscious choice to carry what’s not mine to carry; it’s a conscious choice to leave God out of my equation and attempt to work everything out myself. And I’m never thankful doing so – I may be a lot of things at the moment, but thankful isn’t one of them.
It being Thanksgiving week and all, as I was beginning today’s blog entry, my intention was to write about things for which I am thankful this year. But I thought maybe a ‘preface’ was in order. I needed a wee bit of reminding, anyway… for… why am I thankful and why mustn’t I be anything but thankful. So, another day of thinking: Thankful things — and I’ll put them here tomorrow. Don’t worry.