One of several daily devotions I read is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. A few days ago, these words from her devotional really stuck out for me:
When some basic need is lacking – time, energy, money – consider yourself blessed. Your very lack is an opportunity to latch on to me in unashamed dependence.Sarah Young
Just two weeks ago I talked about counting my blessings and that I do consider myself abundantly blessed. Much more than I deserve. Thankfully, God’s mercy and grace aren’t reserved just for the deserving. But, there have been some stressful times in my life when money was sorely lacking. When I took a calculator with me to the grocery store (long, long before smart phones) to make sure I didn’t spend more than was in my wallet or checking account. One embarrassing time of having to ask the cashier to take some items off the ticket let me know I wasn’t very good at calculating sales tax in my head.
Time and energy seemed always in short supply when my girls were little or when there was a big project at work that came down to an all-weekend crunch to deliver on time.
Those stressors, those “lacks” did not make me feel blessed; although in retrospect I realize they were just some of the growing pains of life. Those “lacks” also did not prompt me to reach out to God in dependence. If anything, I distanced myself from God. I was ashamed that I hadn’t done a better job of controlling my circumstances. I was embarrassed that I was not at the same level economically as many of my friends from high school and college. I didn’t want to be dependent on anyone. And, truthfully it never occurred to me to ask God to help me with my financial problems or my anxiety over juggling time with my children and work commitments. Those things were just the issues we deal with as an adult, right? Very stressful issues, but not something to bother God with. Were they? Didn’t He expect us to take control of our responsibilities and fend for ourselves?
I thought He did. So, I tried and tried to take control. The more I tried, the more stressed I got. I assumed a perfectionist front, but I was falling apart emotionally. And, is it any surprise that I was falling apart spiritually, as well?
In Philippians 4:6, Paul writes to the believers at Philippi: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
I was ignoring every word of this advice from Paul.
- Do not be anxious about anything … Simply stated I was anxious about everything.
- In every situation … I was picking and choosing which situations I thought God could or should help me with
- By prayer and petition … I wasn’t praying on a routine basis and certainly not “presenting a formal request to an authority with respect to a particular cause” (Oxford English Dictionary)
- With thanksgiving … as in “thank you for the fearful, out-of-control situation I find myself in”?
- Present your requests to God … sure, I’ll let Him know when I need Him.
I was flailing around in every direction except up.
I think all of us who are believers at some point realize we are not in control. Oh, I had many times when I knew I needed God’s help. When I needed someone to hold the ladder while I hung the star on the tree. I was responsible for the successful outcome of the project, but always willing to acknowledge those who contributed, who helped.
What a lesson I learned. How little control I have over my life. My world changed in an instant when my younger daughter died. Without warning there was a deep void; a basic need (the fulfillment I felt in being her mother) was suddenly lacking. Thankfully, despite all my years of striving to be in control, there was still a mustard seed of faith in the pit of my heart that told me to let go of the hold I never really had on my life, and to latch on to God.
Am I completely free of anxiety now? Have I entirely stopped trying to control every situation? No and no. But, I am not ashamed of my dependence on God. And, that’s a blessing.
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