One of the biggest mistakes we can make when it comes to the spiritual life is to think that it will be easy. When you know something is going to be difficult you prepare for it and approach it with a certain mind set. If you expect something to be easy, there is a tendency to approach it lackadaisically. The psychological damage we can do to ourselves when we approach something difficult with the mindset that it should be easy is vast. When the thing we are approaching is a spiritual teaching, we can do vast spiritual damage to ourselves also.
The teachings of Jesus are difficult. It is important to approach them with the mindset that great effort will be required and rewarded.
Now, let’s take a look at today’s teaching.
“Do not worry.”
Jesus repeats this teaching in several places throughout the Gospels. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus talks about “the worries of life” choking the word, making it unfruitful. But this teaching is central to one of my favorite passages which is in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 6, verses 25-34.
“Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”
I have many great memories of leading people in prayer and meditation on this passage. I always chose it for our reflections the first day on pilgrimage, to encourage people to leave whatever troubles were brewing at home and be fully present to the experience of the pilgrimage.
Most people spend a lot of time worrying. We are anxious about so many things.
Worry and anxiety are often the result of violated boundaries. Not other people violating our boundaries, but violating our own boundaries. We think we are responsible for things we are not responsible. I’ll say it again, a lot of worry and anxiety is born because we think we are responsible for things we are not responsible. So, next time you are anxious and worried, ask yourself, “Am I responsible for the thing I am anxious or worried about?” It may be someone else is responsible, and it may be that the things you are worried about is in God’s hands and His responsibility.
It’s natural to have a passing concern about this or that, but as that concern crosses our minds, we find ourselves at a fork in the road.
One fork in the road leads to the land of rumination. Our minds delight in ruminating on problems. We think all our worry and anxiety is working toward a solution, but it isn’t. We think all this ruminating is accomplishing something. It isn’t. Our minds don’t want to solve the problem once we get down this path, because it delights in ruminating on it. The easiest way to test this truth is to notice that our minds ruminate on situations that we have absolutely no influence over. No amount of ruminating is going to bring us control over that situation.
The other fork in the road leads high into the mountains. It is the path of prayer. This is definitely the road less travelled. We would rather worry uselessly about things we cannot change, than pray with purpose to the One who can change all things.
When you are anxious or worried, observe yourself, do you pray? If not, why not.
Trusting God is the antidote for worry and anxiety. Prayer is a simple expression of trusting God. Turn your worry into prayer. Trust. Surrender. Believe. Receive.
“Do not worry.” Trust. Surrender. Believe. Receive.
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