The Relationship Between Worry, Trust, and Eternity
Worry

It happens all too frequently. I sing praises to God on Sunday morning and wake early on Monday morning beset by worry.

The cause might be my growing to-do list. Or circumstances outside my control. It could be due to loss and grief. Actually, the reason is less important than my response.

Worry. Anxiousness.

It comes in the form of a thought life that constantly imagines the worst possible outcome for any situation. I might worry about health, finances, relationships, safety, or any of a hundred other topics.

When I find myself worrying, it means several things.

First, I’m depending on myself. Specifically, I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that outcomes are dependent on my own ability.

Being consumed by worry also takes me out of the present. Instead of enjoying today, I’m too busy obsessing about tomorrow.

And depending on myself means I’m not trusting God. Worry means I believe the lie that God is not working for my ultimate good and His eternal glory.

Antidote to Worry

The antidote to worry is to remember who we belong to.

And that leads to understanding what salvation in Christ really means. Our salvation has 3 components:

Past

At the moment we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior God declares us justified in His sight (Romans 5:1). Justification means we have a right standing before God. His wrath is no longer directed toward our sin, for Jesus “drank” the full cup of God’s wrath against sin when He died on the cross for us.

So I have no need to worry about the past. As a Christian, my past has been covered by the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Present

But God did not stop at addressing our past. He also addresses our present. Every committed believer in Jesus Christ has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (II Thess. 2:13). The Holy Spirit does the work of sanctification in our life—a  lifelong process of becoming what God has declared us to be: righteous!

So I have not need to worry about the present. God is at work in my life to make me more like His Son. And He will use every situation in my life toward that end.

Future

Finally, we look forward to an amazing future. At the moment a Christian dies, he or she is immediately in the presence of God. As the apostle Paul said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Our glorification includes having glorified bodies, free from even the temptation of sin.

 

Understanding the full breadth of our salvation reminds us God is in control, so there’s nothing to worry about. Whatever happens in this life is both temporary and will be used by our heavenly Father for our good and His glory.

Kick worry to the door and replace it with trust in the Lord who has us covered: past, present, and future!


 
Where Do You Belong?
Belonging

I’ve had some unexpected—and unwanted—visitors this past week.

The first occurred when I let the dogs out one evening for their final outing. A tree frog took the opportunity to hop into the house. Let’s just say he was not easy to catch. Of course, attempting to catch a frog while trying to corral two large boxers is no easy task to begin with. But with a little perseverance, I captured Mr. Tree Frog and released him outside.

Two days later, I’m sitting at my laptop when my dog fixates on a corner in the living room. I get up to see why she’s so laser-focused, but there’s nothing there. The dog remains unconvinced and becomes more agitated. Now I’m wondering what she knows that I don’t know. On the off chance something’s hiding, I angle the furniture away from the wall and find a big, fat lizard, at least 8 inches long.

So, once again I corral the dogs and lock them up. Then I chase the lizard around the house until I catch it. Actually, I caught it 3 times, but it kept escaping. The 4th time was the charm and Mr. Lizard is now enjoying the outside…where he belongs.

Of course, neither of these visitors compares with the alligator who crashed a window to enter a house elsewhere in Florida. Thankfully—and with apologies to that homeowner—I’m glad the gator was not my unwanted visitor #3.

I consider myself to be a lover of nature, but I’m sure you’ll understand when I say some components of nature belong outside and need to remain there.

Which brings me to us…

How do we know where we belong? Or who we belong to?

For Christ-followers, I Corinthians 3:13 tells us Christians belong to Christ. So what we do and where we go should be guided by who we belong to.

Just as a tree frog does not belong in my house, there are places I don’t belong either. This is not about being legalistic, nor is it about isolating ourselves from those who don’t know Christ. It is about making wise choices about my entertainment, the work I do, and the values I espouse. It has everything to do with the books I read, movies I watch, and how I spend my time.

True confession…when I was a new Christian in my early 20s, I was invited to be a bridesmaid for a childhood friend. Her bachelorette party was a girls’ night out at a bar watching men dance and encouraging them with dollar bills—if you know what I mean.

I knew I did not belong there. I was as out-of-place as that tree frog in my living room. But I didn’t have the courage to decline, and I didn’t have the courage to leave by myself after our group arrived. Instead, I sat in a corner, slumped down in my seat, nursed a soda, and prayed the night would end quickly.

Oh, and I prayed for one more thing. You see, as a fairly new Christian, I had only recently learned about eschatology (theology related to end-times). I was terrified Jesus might return that night. I did not want to be seen coming out of a male dance club to join Jesus in the air!

That embarrassing and convicting evening happened almost 40 years ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. And the lesson has stayed with me all these years: don’t go where I don’t belong.

I belong to Christ. My identity is wrapped up in Him. The direction of my thoughts, the words I speak, the things I do, and the places I go are to reflect Who I belong to. That means listening for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do or go—or not to do or go, rather than following other people. It means understanding that what is okay for someone else, even other Christians, will not always be okay for me.

It also means being willing—and having the courage—to stand alone in obedience to Adonai, the sovereign Lord who purchased me out of the slave market of sin to belong to Him.

Who do you belong to?
If you belong to Christ, do your choices reflect your identity?


 
What are You Leaning Into?

leaningEver hear someone refer to God as a crutch? Something only weak people need to lean on to get through life?

I’ve always found that argument irrational, all the more so when promoted by people who practically worship rationality.

It implies that weakness is the exception. But aren’t we all weak in one area or another?

Superman is a fantasy figure, and even he had a weakness: kryptonite (or Lois Lane, depending on your point of view 😊). Show me one person who won’t admit to any kind of weakness, and I’ll show you a person who is delusional.

And even if we agree that everyone has some type of weakness, it’s still not easy to personally admit it. Our culture reveres strength. An admission of weakness carries the stigma of being “less than.”

Less than adequate.

Less than acceptable.

Less than whole.

Admitting weakness requires admitting we need help. That’s usually okay physically. If you break your leg, it’s foolish to try walking without the aid of a crutch or other tool to help you get around until your bone heals.

So why is it many of us find it next to impossible to admit we need help mentally, emotionally, or spiritually?

If the Bible is true—and nothing has yet proven that it isn’t—then we are weak in every area, not just physically. Jesus Christ became human to bring the healing and wholeness we need, first spiritually, and in other areas of life, too.

To reject the wholeness He came to restore to us would be as foolish as a person with a broken leg rejecting crutches or a wheelchair.

We all lean into something or someone when we’re weak, whether we admit it or not.

When life doesn’t make sense, which way do you lean?

When tragedy strikes, which way do you lean?

When your energy is sapped, which way do you lean?

Do you lean into God or away from Him?

  • The atheist denies God’s existence and leans into humanity’s wisdom.
  • An agnostic leans into the certainty that it’s impossible to be certain about God.
  • The Christian admits his or her need, and leans into God, through the cross of Christ and dependence on His Holy Spirit.

Real foolishness is denying our weakness in the face of the overwhelming evidence of our need.

Do you really think people are born good? Then why is it we never have to teach a toddler to say “no” or “mine”? Or why do we have to teach a child to share, but we never have to teach a child to be selfish?

Adults are no better. We just learn to hide our sin under a veneer of civility (although these days, even civility has suffered a black eye).

Take a long look around. Then take a long look in the mirror. There are no exceptions. No, not even one.

That’s the reason Christ came to earth as a human and died for us. He did what we could not do for ourselves. He met our greatest need: the need to be restored to the divine relationship for which we were created.

If Jesus Christ is not who He said He is, then in the words of the apostle Paul, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (I Corinthians 15:19 NIV).

The older I get, the more I realize that often the worst thing I can do is try to make sense of life with my limited perspective and understanding. For if this world really is all there is, then life is, indeed, a cruel joke.

I recently experienced a severe loss. It has left me feeling weak. But when I lean into God during my times of need, I gain:

  • strength in my weakness
  • peace as I face unexpected circumstances
  • equipping to accomplish the tasks before me
  • and hope as I face uncertainty.

Corrie ten Boom said it best when she said, “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

Whatever you’re facing today in your weakness, will you lean into Jesus Christ?

It’s the strongest thing you’ll ever do.


 
Labels, Identity, & Boxes on a Piece of Paper

Labels

Been thinking about labels lately. How we assign them to ourselves and to others.

Of all the seasons of my life, junior high school was the most painful. Labels ruled and cliques reigned. You were labeled if you belonged to a group and labeled if you didn’t.

Smart. Stupid.

Pretty. Ugly.

Jock. Nerd.

Popular. Loser.

Adults used to be subtler about the use of labels. Not anymore. The words are often spit out with venom usually reserved for the lowest of the low.

Liberal. Conservative.

Democrat. Republican.

Intellectual. Religious fanatic.

This week, I came face to face with another label. It happened in a doctor’s office as I completed one of several forms.

The first 20 years of my life I was Single.

Then I spent the next 40 years Married.

Now I’m face to face with a new label: Widow.

Single. Married. Widow.

Who knew that checking a box on a form would cause me to rethink my identity? And yet it did.

But is that really my identity? Or is it simply a description of my status?

The last 2 months have given me the opportunity to consider who I am. What is my primary identity?

I was an executive…and now I’m not.

I was a wife…and now I’m not.

I’m an author now.

I’m a teacher now.

I’m a widow now.

My employment status and my marital status are subject to change. But one thing will never change. One label describes me now and for all eternity.

I am a Christian.

That means I’m a child of God. A daughter of the Creator of the universe.

I have:

A living hope (I Peter 1:3).

An imperishable inheritance (I Peter 1:4).

The seal of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Eternal life that has already begun (John 5:24).

Checking a box on a piece of paper describes my circumstances. But it doesn’t come close to describing who I am…and who I always will be.

Priscilla Shirer said it better than I could:

Who are YOU?


 
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