Tuesday, December 6, 2011

For Phil

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear....Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?...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 of these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matt. 6:25-34

So the other night I was having a discussion with a friend named Phil. He is a very cool guy who in many respects is wise beyond his years. However, I can out-fish him any day of the week. Despite his fishing weaknesses, his faith is genuine & strong, and I enjoy watching what the Living God is doing in his life. I also miss the fact that I don't get to talk to him on a regular basis.

We were talking about politics & religion. (Yea & verily, they of the dangerous mix.) He tends to be a bit of a Ron Paul supporter. I like a few of Paul's ideas, but think he doesn't stand a snowball's chance. I also tend to think it's kind of funny how so many people look to him, and yet somehow instinctively understand that Ron Paul is essentially Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

My friend worries about the world's economy and how it seems to be falling apart. He doesn't see much hope for this world or this nation in the long term. I tend to agree with him. So we both worry...a lot.

I'm really good at worrying. I rarely even realize I'm doing it. It can manifest itself at strange times and in strange situations. Yet, at the same time, I worry a whole lot less then I used to.

I told my friend a true story about myself and how I learned to worry a little less. Here is that story in a short form:

Many years ago I had what I term an "Anxiety Breakdown." Nervous breakdown would also work, I suppose. But this pretty much had to do with all of my pent up anxieties, so...

I ended up on the therapist's couch for a quite a while. It was an interesting experience. In fact, I enjoyed the first breakdown so much that I had another one about 6 months into therapy. (Who wouldn't enjoy a complete break from emotional stability, a semi-public self-humiliation?) Like I said, it was an interesting experience.

Anyhoo, I told my friend about the moment that God began to heal me. (He's still working on that. I'm quite the mess.) I remember that I was sitting in my favorite chair at home one morning. Naturally, I had stuff stewing in my mind about all of my stupidity, past, present and all my potential future stupidities. I worried.

I also happened to be reading through "The Lord of the Rings" at the time. I remember very clearly what happened. As I was going through the book and I came across the part where Frodo was lamenting to Gandalf about every having been given that evil ring, and all of the trouble that it was going to cause. And Gandalf said something very interesting to Frodo in response...

The film changed the setting of this quote, but you get the idea.

I remember sitting there reading and re-reading that section. Then I reached over to my bible and opened it to Matthew 6. (Anyone who misses all of the obvious Christian metaphors & allegory in Tolkien's story is clearly not paying attention.) I read what Jesus had to say about the subject of worrying, and it all just began to wash over me like a warm wave. And that is also the moment that God began to clean up my goofed up mind.

It's not that people should NOT be concerned about daily events and planning for their futures. But where are we placing those concerns? Are we so caught up with making sure that our lives are safe & secure that we miss out on the adventure that God has for us? Are we making the mistake of, once again, trying to BE God, and working to control all aspects of our lives? Or are we placing those cares on him in trust and humility, knowing that ultimately he is in control?

Americans are looking for a new messiah to rescue us from the last messiah we put into the Presidency. I remember how the Left had icons of Obama made with the word "Hope" written on the bottom of it. He would be the promised one who would rescue us from the evils of the Bush administration. Plenty of hopes & dreams were placed on the new President. Hopes & dreams that no man could possibly fulfill. Now, the Right is doing the same thing...with the same religious fervor...if not more so, considering how "Neo-Paganized" the Right has become. (Looking at the choices that the Republicans are offering makes me wonder why anyone would vote for a cartoon character. But, hey...)

Americans worry. Americans place their hopes in their fallible and VERY human candidates. Americans, like other humans, never seem to learn that their trust should not be in other humans, their institutions, economic & political ideas, or the "Isms" of this world.

So tonight at the men's bible study, Shorty (I don't even know his real name) was talking about his trust in God. Shorty is a very interesting & likable guy. His joy tends to be infectious. If it were someone else, I might not believe it when he says that he has learned how to give over almost everything to God. I believe Shorty. I want to be more like him. Shorty has a very healthy, child-like trust in Jesus.

Jesus put things into perspective to his listeners. The Father is not as dim as we tend to treat him. He knows what our needs are. In fact, he knows them better than we do. If we would stop worrying so much and simply trust him, things could be very different. God will give us our needs when we place them in his hands.

I have seen people completely yank those verses from Matthew 6 out of context. The idiots who spout that "Health & Wealth" apostasy will tell you that if you come to Jesus, he will make you a millionaire. "Jesus said that God will give you the desires of your heart. This means that if you desire a mercedes, God will give you one." I've really heard them say that. It certainly demonstrates where the heart of someone who says such things truly is.

Jesus said, right before telling his followers not to worry so much; "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I would ask those people who teach the above mentioned nonsense the same thing I need to ask myself regularly; "So where is your heart really at?"

Over the last few months, YHWH has been revealing to me just how faithful he has been. During that time, I worried a lot. I still worry. However, God has shown how faithful he has been to me even when I did not see it, and was not always faithful to him. He is always faithful. That way, he gets all the credit. And that is as it should be.

Currently, I am trying to learn to "Wait in Anticipation" on the Lord. This is not an easy task for me. You may have noticed, I like to worry. (Perhaps it's a hobby.) Still, I am eager to learn how to do this. It's weird, scary and exciting all at the same time. Last year, a short-term teaching job came to me completely out of the blue. I wasn't looking that direction, nor would I have seen it coming in a hundred years. Yet there it was, dropped right in my lap.

God got all of the credit.

At the moment I have very few options other than to trust the Father...or to worry a lot.

God knows what I need. I have little faith in politicians. I have even less faith in the institutions of man. This world is a mess, and it ain't getting any better...and there is very little I can do about any of it.

God has slowly, but surely, been teaching me to seek his kingdom first, and that all will truly be well. I would like to say that this lesson is complete, and that I now have the faith of Shorty. But I don't, and the lesson is not over yet. Still, in it's own freaky way, it is exciting. I sit. I wait in anticipation. I can honestly say that in my own VERY imperfect and wiggly, squirmy way, that I am anticipating that YHWH my God will do a work that will bring him all the credit & glory...and blow my freakin' mind in the process.

Where else would it be wise to place my hope?



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