Sermon on Worry….
This week I discovered that there is a big leak in the deck roof at my house. The water had been dripping quite a while when I went to answer the door and it dripped on my head. I went into the garage and got a big bucket and put it under the leak.
Did I start to worry about this leak? Not exactly. I was a little perturbed that there was another leak. Actually there are at least three others in the garage. It wasn’t all that long ago that I paid to fix the deck roof which had been leaking for some time.
As I went upstairs with my guest I just kept talking and didn’t think much more about the leak. I can’t fix it. I have already talked with a guy about fixing the other leaks and I’ll just add this one to my list.
Later this week I thought about moving bucket, but when I checked it I discovered there was quite a bit of water so I left the bucket right where it was.
Don’t give me too much credit for not worrying. I have been trying hard not to worry and fret.
Did you know that there are over 62 references to worrying in the Bible and I am sure many are very familiar to you.
Remember when Jesus was talking on the mountain and he asked who fed the birds. He compared the lilies in the field to the splendor of Solomon in all his glory and he reminded the crowd and the disciples that they did not need to worry. Their job was to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all these things would be given to them.
Remember when Peter, James and John had fished all night and caught nothing and were worried? Jesus told them to cast their net on the other side which they had just done, but they obeyed and their net was full.
Remember when Jesus was asleep in the boat and the terrible storm came up and all the disciples were worried, afraid for their lives? They woke Jesus up and he calmed the sea to their utter amazement.
I love these stories because they help me keep my worry at bay. I know from past experience that I do not have to worry because Jesus will take care of it. And then all I need to do is just think about how many times in my life he has done just that. From the mornings when I am looking for a missing ingredient in a recipe I have already started (many, many times) to this past week when I had to work on a solution for a big issue at the college and my boss accepted my solution whole heartedly which was a huge blessing.
Even though I’d like to say I never worry, I am sure that if I am really honest, there is a little degree of worry whenever a problem arises.
However, and this is what I really want to emphasize, I work really hard not to let worry or anxiety consume me and I know personally how easy that would be for me to do.
I used to worry aloud about all kinds of things when I was younger. I would fret over this and then fret over that, always saying all of this aloud to Richard and always saying I couldn’t understand why Jesus let this or that thing happen. I bugged Richard constantly and worried a lot.
Some of you know this story, but I think it bears repeating. Actually just repeating it helps me.
One day when I had been on a long rant that had gone on for days and days, Ricard told me to sit down on the couch and he would give me the answer. I remember telling him that I knew he had the answer all along and just wouldn’t tell me. You know sometimes it pays to be married to a preacher because you know they have the answers.
At any rate he told me that before he gave me the answer I needed to answer one question just for him. Sure I told him. Just ask. Imagine my shock when he asked if I was ready to be equal to God and if I wanted that. “You know that if you know why everything happens in the world, you will be equal to God and that’s a big responsibility. Are you ready for it?” he said. Of course you know my answer. I told him No. I didn’t want to be equal to God.
Then you have to accept that you just don’t know the whole picture like he does and you can’t have all the answers. There is a reason you don’t know.” Although this did not stop my worry completely, it certainly cut it down. Whenever I started to get in a tizzy and worry about something I thought about that answer. I don’t have the big picture and God is in charge.
If worry consumes you, there are several things you can do. For one thing, think about or read or better yet, memorize scripture. Some of my favorites are
I Peter 5:7; Proverbs 15:22; Psalm 37:1 and 4
I even have these reminders in my phone so it dings and reminds me to let God be in charge.
Another thing I do when worries come up is to count my blessings, to think of the things God has done not only in my life, but in the lives of others and I can rest assured that God will take care of this worry.
Most important of all don’t forget to pray. That is without a doubt the way to truly overcome your worries.
Does it always work? Can I claim complete success? I want to tell you that I can, but that would be lying. I think I am getting better with age and practice, but I still have to work on this.
I remember one event in particular that really helps me concentrate on how to overcome worry. We used to take the kids camping to Christian Center Beach at 5 Mile. We cooked over a campfire, swam in the lake, canoed and hiked. It was lots of fun. One particularly windy day I went out in the canoe with three girls: Dea Church, Heidi Shellhorn, and one other girl whose name escapes me. We decided to canoe to Boy Scout island which is not far away and we got there quickly. I am sure the wind helped. However, when we were ready to go back to camp (we had two canoes) the wind was pretty strong and we were not making any headway. To make a long story short, we ended up canoeing to the Mavis Island. The girls were hollering and consumed with worry. I got them all in one canoe and put the strongest girl in the front to paddle with myself in the back. We tied the second canoe to our canoe and set out. The wind was blowing hard, the girls were yelling a lot and I was flustered. I yelled at them to stop hollering and start praying and there was immediate quiet. We prayed aloud and then Dea and I paddled. Just when we were about to Mavis Island someone came out on the lake with a zodiac to rescue us. At that point I didn’t want to be rescued. I just wanted to get to land myself which we did. However, the highway was lined with cars and I was worrying a lot. In spite of getting to land safely, I immediately began to worry about what the parents would think and if anyone would let their kids come to camp the next day. Richard told me quite sternly to stop my fretting and to be thankful and to realize that it was in God’s hand. Imagine my next surprise the next morning when every camper was at the Christian Center ready to go and filled with tales of the canoe trip from yesterday, laughing and talking about it.
But you notice that I was young and foolish. I needed to be completely thankful for the blessing of no one being hurt and for the parents’ trust in us, but I instead let myself be consumed with worry. Only Richard’s answer to stop worrying, stopped my vocal worrying.
In all honesty, I think when you let worry after worry consume you, you are allowing the devil to put an obstacle in your path. I used to pooh, pooh this idea, but the older I have grown, the more I realize that the devil is a real power in the world and he wants to sidetrack us from the behavior we should be portraying. So now I do my best to replace that worry with trust.
I pray, I read or repeat scripture, I count my blessings and I ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen if my worry materializes. And you know what? It is never something I couldn’t deal with or live through. I know God is faithful and I know that I can trust him
Do you know the best thing about these techniques? They work. God designed our brains so we can only really think about one thing at a time. It is impossible to think of something you are worrying about and think of a blessing or repeat a scripture or thank God for an answered prayer. You simply can’t do it. Your brain is not wired that way and God did that on purpose. He doesn’t want you to worry. It is too big of a problem for you to think about. He wants you to have peace, to be filled with His joy and love.
So, is that leak along with the other leaks in my roof something for me to worry about? I don’t think so. I’m sure there is a solution to that problem and it might be a surprisingly easy one. I don’t know, but I have a lot of other things to think about and that’s not one of them.
I’m going to think about what is true, what is noble, and what is right. I am going to fill my mind with what is pure, love and admirable and I am going to think about those things that are excellent or praiseworthy.
I am not going to be anxious, I am going to give my worries to God and his peace will guard my heart and my mind.