We’ve talked about this before. Worrying. It’s the universal sin. We worry about the economy. We worry about our jobs. We worry about our nation. We worry about the elections. We worry about peace in the world. We worry about our grades. We worry about the weather. We worry about the crops. We worry about our kids. We worry about our grandkids. We worry about our finances. We worry about our cars. We worry about…
Well, do you get the picture? We seem to worry about everything. And it does not seem to matter whether we are followers of Christ or not. In fact, one observer of the Christian community at large made the comment that he feels that, “Worry is the most universal Christian sin – Everybody is doing it!!” The he goes on to quote Philippians 4:6-7 in the New Testament to demonstrate that, as Christians, we are commanded to worry about nothing, and instead to pray about everything. This scholar goes on to say that if we as Christians are commanded to do something and we do not do it, that which we do not do is called sin in the Bible.
In the past, whenever I have said something like that (“To worry is a sin!”), people will then come up to me and affirm that in the past they have worried, but now they just “have nervous concerns.” It may be over a loved one’s health or a need for “traveling mercies,” but the bottom line is they are really nervous and just plain worried.
Worrying applies to all sorts of individuals as well. One pastor talks about coming out of his office one day and meeting a huge monster of a fellow in the hallway. This fellow was about six foot four, at least 250 pounds, and he wore cutoff jeans and a sweatshirt. His body was all tatted up. This fellow was at the church to attend his first ministry meeting and was really nervous. When the pastor inquired why he was so nervous, the fellow told him that he had responded to his (the pastor’s) message and had signed up a ministry. He said, “I figured I got to do something. I want to serve the Lord.”
“What’s the ministry you’re joining?” asked the pastor.
“The knitting ministry,” he said. “Well, actually, I don’t knit, I crochet.”
Here’s this huge guy who looks like he could be an NFL tackle and he’s nervous about joining a ministry that makes blankets and hats for hospitalized children.
“Where did you learn how to crochet?”
“I was in the Hell’s Angels for 12 years,” he responded. “I learned to crochet in prison. I know it’s the one thing I can do for the Lord.”
Just then the lady who heads up the knitting ministry walked up and asked the former Hell’s Angels, “Are you Jim?” She gave him a big grin and took his hand and they went down the hall together. Here’s this big fellow worrying about whether or not he can do the job. Imagine if Jim was worrying about what others would think about him crocheting for Jesus.
The antidote to worry is prayer. And ultimately prayer is depending upon the Lord for whatever it is you are nervous or concerned or worried about. In prayer we are saying, “Lord, I cannot handle this. But I know that you can!”
Now, most of us would agree with that assessment. Right? But the problem is that we usually do not stop worrying once we have prayed. So what do we do?
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him,” Psalm 37:17 tells us.
While that sounds good in theory, how does it practically work out? I mean, after all I’ve got all those pressures and new experiences coming my way. How will I ever get it all done? How on earth do I “rest in the Lord”?
In looking for answers to that question, I am reminded of the account of one of the disciples in the years after Christ had been on earth. His name is Peter, and he has been arrested and imprisoned on trumped-up charges, and is awaiting his trial. Now think back. Peter was one of those who woke Jesus up that night in the storm and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?” Now, we find Peter on the night before his trial, when the likelihood of his being found innocent was, well, 0 percent. He was chained between two guards and he was fast asleep. Asleep! Or, another way of saying it was that he was resting in the Lord. (Check out Acts 12:1-11 for the complete account.)
Isn’t this the same impetuous fellow who was always jumping in head first before checking to see how deep the water is? Obviously, in the time since Jesus had been with him he had learned something about trusting the Lord with his life.
The point is that you and I could not be facing any more desperate or extreme circumstances in life than Peter did that night. Peter was “resting in the Lord and waiting patiently for Him.”
For each of us that is the decision we all must make – to rest in the Lord, deciding for ourselves to trust Him with our circumstances and our life. Our refusal to do so may seem to be the courageous thing to do, but it really is simply a stubborn determination not to acknowledge the Lord as our Sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords.
So quite worrying, by whatever name you call it. Crochet for Jesus if you so wish, but in whatever you do, rest in the Lord and He will give you peace.
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette. He also serves as pastor of Port William UMC.