What began as a small Bible study about â€œworryâ€ to calm my nerves has turned into a soul-searching journey about serving two masters. Or, at the very least, ignoring the one Master who really matters. This was (sort of) a case of hearing something for the umpteenth millionth time and finally getting it andâ€¦it sent me on a voyage through the Bible to learn more. What I didnâ€™t expect was to be dealing with the Holy Spirit in a very real, personal, and introspective way.
I find myself in sort of a mid-life crisis at the moment. Let me share with you shortly so you have a background as to why I had been living in a state of worry for the past few months.
My wife filed for divorce back in February and it is now finally going through (mid-November). She is taking the kids and moving an hour away. Most dads become â€œweek-end dadsâ€ with a divorce, but Iâ€™ve been able to have my kids three days a week, plus every-other weekend. Now, Iâ€™m losing my kids possibly. My wife is also refusing to file taxes with me, which meant I had been staring at a $3,600 debt to Uncle Heinz (I live in Germany), as opposed to only $600. I am working a mid-night shift, post office job, which has me physically, mentally, and, quite literally, spiritually wasted. I am not sure what kind of job Iâ€™ll have within the next two yearsâ€”do I have to go back to school, or do I end up at the post-office, or will I finally be able to get a teaching job? Top that off with my wife telling me I am only able to see the kids now when she sees fit, I guess you could say Iâ€™m not exactly having the greatest of months.
We all have worries. Mine arenâ€™t any worse or less than anybody elseâ€™s. People in New Orleans have legit worries. What about the people in Kashmir? Chinaâ€™s Christians? Moms and dads with sick newborns? The un-employed? We all have worries.
But God tells us not to worry. Hmmm. Then why give us the worries is my first question.
I donâ€™t want to come off as â€œwhy worry, itâ€™s all in Godâ€™s handsâ€ type of person, or, worse yet, as someone who has everything under control. When it comes to worrying, Iâ€™m an expert I hate to admit. But hereâ€™s the deal, why should we worry? Most of the time we canâ€™t do anything about our worries, anyway. And once weâ€™ve done something about them, we canâ€™t always change the course of action weâ€™ve chosen. The worst part about typing the preceding sentences is that I, of all people, have the hardest time practicing such calmness.
So, off to the Bible to calm my nerves.
I went straight to Mathew 6. The Sermon on the Mount. I went directly to Christâ€™s â€œspeechâ€ on worry. Iâ€™ve heard it a thousand times before, but this time was different. It was as if the light in my head went off. Finally.
In verses 25-34 we read the famous â€œDonâ€™t Worryâ€ passage. But how does it start out? â€œSo, I tell you, donâ€™t worry about the food or drink you need to live, or about the clothes you needâ€¦â€ (NCV, emphasis mine). Why would Christ say, â€œSo, I tell you?â€ Heâ€™s in the middle of a conversation and he says, â€œsoâ€¦â€ This tells us he was saying something important before hand.
As it turns out, Christ had just been talking about the value of money. Or, more specifically, how we should value money. We should be putting our emphasis on Godâ€™s Kingdom and not putting our emphasis on everyday worriesâ€”once we start putting the emphasis on ourselves we start serving ourselves. And when we are worrying about our own financial plans/ideas we are then serving another master, other than Christ. And thatâ€™s not good.
Christâ€™s main point was/is simply: deal with the problems of today and serving/obeying God and let God take care of the rest.
Now I have some serious financial worries. They are legitimate. But this got me to thinkingâ€”or askingâ€”could it be that serving another master (namely: us) is the cause of our worry. If we stay focused on Godâ€™s Kingdom then will our worries depart?
Since we are roundaboutly taking about ourselves, letâ€™s stay there. What do we know about usâ€¦about us in Godâ€™s care?
In Psalm 139 we read about how God knows everything, how He knows all about us. Not only does He know our thoughts and actions, but David tells us that God â€œhas His handâ€ on us! God knows where we are. He does! And Heâ€™s there! With us! But it gets betterâ€¦or more complicatedâ€¦or both.
Tony Evans, in God is More Than Enough, points out that in Psalm 23 God leads us â€œin the paths of righteousness.â€ This means, that if we are truly following God, He will guide us through the right paths! He will put us right where He wants us. Before we get too happyâ€¦Evans points out that the very next verse (4) tells us that we will go through valleys. In this case, the Valley of the Shadow of Death. God will, at some point, lead us through valleys, through dark places. Donâ€™t get scared. Thatâ€™s Davidâ€™s pointâ€¦thereâ€™s no fear. Even the Paths of Righteousness lead through valleysâ€¦even the Valley of the Shadow of Death!
EVEN IF we are following Him, Heâ€™s going to guide us through tough times. For example, look at Job. God points out Job to Satan. He turns Job over, in other words. He wants to test us. But why???
Why does God test us? Itâ€™s a test. A test of our faith. Itâ€™s a test of who we are! It is a test of our calling! And if we donâ€™t step up, we are going to failâ€¦and thus the worry. We are going to worry because we are going to be looking at ourselves and seeing that we canâ€™t do it. But if we are focused on God and His Kingdom heâ€™s going to take care of usâ€”according to Mathew 6.
Look at every major figure in the Bible. Look at their callings. Every person that God called for something great was tested. They were put through some sort of dark valley. Either God tested them or He allowed Satan to test them. Either way, God tested them to see if they were worth their calling.
Israel was called to inherit a specific land. Their initial test was failed by ten spies. David was called to be king, hunted by a lion and a bear, fought a stinkinâ€™ giant, then was immediately hunted by his predecessor. Abraham was to be the father of a great nationâ€¦then was asked to kill his only son, the only person who could continue this national, family tree. Moses was called to bring Godâ€™s people out of slavery; only to be tested by Pharaoh and millions of murmuring Israelites.
Those may be the exceptions to the rule. I mean, they all might just be the cream of the crop. But doesnâ€™t God give us a calling, too? Doesnâ€™t God want us to do great things, too? I think so. No. I know so! God wants us to be a Royal Priesthood! He wants us to be co-rulers with him. In Malachi we read of a Book of Remembrance for those who do great things for God. A Holy Hall of Fame, so to speak!
And thatâ€™s where the introspective look inside my soul began to be painful. I know God wants more out of me. I know He expects better from me. And here I am worrying about things. Why was I worrying?
Because I took the focus off God and His Kingdom. By simply ignoring God and putting the focus on my circumstances I slowly began serving me. I was more worried or focused on myself and my surrounding situations. And as a result I began to stop serving God. I wasnâ€™t necessarily serving Satanâ€¦but I wasnâ€™t serving God. And, I ask, what is the difference? There are two camps in our lives. Both are spiritual. Godâ€™s Holy Camp vs. Satanâ€™s Camp of Evil. We can only be in one. And if we choose a middle ground, then we are automatically in Satanâ€™s camp. There is no middle ground.
Thatâ€™s where I was. I was taking my focus off of God and his provisions for me. I wasnâ€™t allowing Jehovah Jireh to perform great things in my life. No. Sad to say, I let my everyday worriesâ€”most of which I canâ€™t do much about anywayâ€”take control.
And this worry was a great tactic by Satan. You see, by letting one sin fester in my life, he was able to talk me into other sins. Yes, Iâ€™m responsible for my actions but he isnâ€™t called the tempter or father of lies for nothing. One sin was in my heart and that helped pave the way for more sin to enter. I let sin enter my life because I refused to stay alert to Satanâ€™s tactics.
The result was a downward spiral of worry, seeking my own way out, letting sin enter other areas of my life, drowning God out, and, ultimately, disappointing my Heavenly Father who rewarded me with sleepless nights riddled with guilt.
I write. I write a lot. I love to write. When Iâ€™m unable to write or have no desire to write is due to one of two things, or an odd combination of both. Iâ€™m either extremely tired or Iâ€™m not living my life like a Man of God should be.
Through this process of being focused on me and wrestling with sin and having the Holy Spirit speak to the deepest parts of my heart I have learned to rely on Jehovah Jireh. I am slowly learning to let Jehovah, this Warrior of a God, lead me and let him take care of me.