Sunday, January 21, 2007

Watch & Pray

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap . . . Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." - Luke 21: 34, 36

I used to tell people that I was a world-class worrier. (When I said it, it sounded like a world-class warrior – which I am definitely not). I am the only person I know who got stress headaches in fourth grade. What I had to worry about back then, I have no idea, but I created something and whatever it was, I figured that if I thought about it enough, I'd be able to change the situation.

My skills at worrying only improved with time. Being an introspective person I thought about the world's problems as well as my own. Somehow, I figured that it was my responsibility to do everything I could to right all wrongs. And if there was nothing, the least I could do was think. What I couldn't control, I could try to solve.

I realized a few years ago how unproductive this was. Not only was it compromising my health, but I realized that worrying never changed the situation. I faced what many people consider the ultimate concern – what would happen when I die – and I realized I knew the end of the story. If the finale was taken care of, there was no need to worry about the intermission. The ending was going to be the same regardless, and even if I didn't know when or how, I knew what my destination was going to be.

What I hadn't considered until recently was how quickly I forget. Having dealt with the ultimate concern, I still get stressed over some little things in life. Not as often as I used to, and with a lot more humor, but I still worry. It's silly and pointless and I know that, but I let life's burdens get me down. And my burdens aren't even that great to bear.

The Gospel of Luke provides the remedy. Watch and Pray. Watch – be aware of what is around, the temptation to doubt, and what difficulties there may be. Pray – to walk with wisdom, resist when necessary, and overcome defeat. With these two armaments, we can avoid life's anxieties and rest in Christ's peace.

Worrying never accomplished much for me; I doubt it did for anyone else. When I follow Christ's instructions my thoughts are on Him and I'm mindful of all that's under His command. I am no longer consumed with my thoughts but I'm focused on all He is. And if that's not a cure for worrying, I don't know what is.

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