Last year I read The Heart Between Us: Two Sisters, One Heart Transplant, and a Bucket List by Lindsay Harrel for one of my book clubs. It’s the story of a woman, who after having a heart transplant, hasn’t quite lived up to her potential. After meeting her donor’s family, she decides to set off on an adventure, finishing her donor’s bucket list. Most of the list includes travel and unexpectedly, her sister joins her on her trip.
I liked the focus on the two sisters and their relationship (and the work they have to do on their relationship), but while it may not have been the main focus of the book, there was another unexpected reminder that came from the book: how much worry can take away from living.
I had some short and random notes from reading this book in a draft, long before a pandemic took over the world and 2020 decided to act the fool. Only recently did I stumble upon them. But, how not so surprisingly, it turned out reading about worry is something I needed. Here’s the quote that stuck out from the book:
“When I worry, I am telling God I don’t trust him. I fret about things I can’t control. I used to think worry was just part of my emotional DNA, something I couldn’t change. But the Bible tells us not to worry. It’s an actual command. Your father reminded me of that. Gently, of course.” A soft laugh. “If we’re told not to worry, then there’s got to be a way to make it happen.”
How easy is it to blame our worry on it being “just who we are?” How quickly are we prone to excusing behavior instead of the hard work of changing it?
In John 14:1, Jesus speaks these words to His disciples, but they have just as much meaning to us as well: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” What is it you find yourself worrying about? What do you try to control most?
When friends from high school started planning our 20th high school reunion (it was going to be this August, but has since been postponed until next year), they created a Facebook group. There’s been plenty of chatter and it’s been fun to think about high school days and see what folks are up to. What has been incredibly sad though, is talking about all of the people we’ve lost since high school. I don’t know if there’s an average number for a school my size, but we’ve lost quite a few. Just recently someone shared about a friend who passed away the previous year. I had absolutely no idea and it was a punch to the gut. He was someone I was looking forward to catching up with.
And once again that age old reminder hit: we aren’t promised tomorrow.
So what do I have to gain by worrying? Trust me, I know it’s hard. I know parents worry about their kids until, well, their whole lives, but is it normal parent concern or unhealthy all consuming worry? If you’re single and dating (or not dating), does finding someone consume what your thoughts, what you talk about with friends? Are you dating someone just for the sake of dating, even with the red flags flying? Are you always thinking about work?
I know there are so many more examples of worry to choose from. But one I know we are all experiencing is with COVID-19 dominating the world. Do you find yourself online reading news every spare second? Hoping somewhere or someone online will make sense of all the mess?
It’s hard. I know. We worry about things we care about. There are many times when the Lord gently reminds me of when my worry starts becoming more than my faith. But hang on to the truth Jesus has left us in His Word.
“And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Luke 12:22-31 (ESV)
When I’m in a rut, I try to ask myself these questions: Is my worry stopping me from God’s call on my life? Is worry causing unnecessary tension in my relationships? Am I spending more time worrying about the situation than in prayer and reading the Bible? I encourage you today, to give whatever worries you might have (whether big or small) to the Lord. That’s the best place it can be.
And know I’m there right along with you.