For Day 12 of Walking Out of Worry, we gathered as a church community to share communion and to bring our requests to God. Ultimately, we were able to practice a way to give our worries to a loving God and to see how our community is stitched together with prayer and encouragement. It was a great evening together.
We are on Day 11 of the walking out of worry journey. If you’d like to finish the last few days with us or if you want to keep a guide for a future season of life, you can download it here.
Reminder: a Communion Service associated with our journey will be hosted at GracePoint Church on Thursday November 6th, 6:30pm. All are welcome.
Today’s post is centered, again, on the topic of prayer and worry.
Prayer is a category with a wide bandwidth within the Christian tradition. As I see it there are two main “operating softwares” for how people have believed prayer works within Christianity.
First, prayer is the means by which all that God had planned from before the foundation of the world is “uncovered” by the believer and/or praying community. Prayer is not creating anything, but allowing what is “unseen” to be witnessed in material reality. This is a shorthand (perhaps reductionist) way of talking about theological topics of providence/sovereignty.
Next, prayer is the evidence of God’s dynamic relationship to the world. God moves through the prayers of people and creates outcomes within the situation. John Wesley was even bold enough (and perhaps exaggerated a bit) when he said, “God does nothing but through believing prayer.” This is a shorthand way of talking about a tradition called open/relational theology.
In either scenario, God is directly involved in the prayers of the people of God, whether as One whose divine intentions from the beginning are being made known or the One who actively participates through the yearnings of God’s people.
With this in mind, I share one of my favorite Martin Luther quotations, for it deals with prayer and worry:
“Pray and let God worry.”
That is a fantastic idea and gets to the heart of our need for prayer when we are anxious. As we pray, we hand over to God the things that only God can do, and we are free to then see what it is we need to do as we allow God to take care of what only God can do.
So, today let’s be reminded of the big worry that we named on Day 1 and give that worry over to God in prayer and let God worry about it. I pray that freedom would fill our hearts today because of it.
We are in Day 10 of the walking out of worry process. If you’d like to join in on the journey, feel free to download the material here.
A part of today’s activity is to watch an inspirational video called “Landfill Harmonic.” If you have not watched the video, I encourage you to and you can view it here.
Yes, these people live in a garbage dump and they are making musical instruments out of that garbage and are playing classical music with those instruments.
The punchline of the video is: “The world sends us garbage. We send back music.” It is an empowering story, convincing us to want to see the potential in the midst of the most depressing of situations.
It reminds me of of the text from Romans 4 where Paul, reflecting on the life of Abraham amid all of his hardships, said:
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope, believed.”
Worry has the potential to steal hope. It is not a surprise that the word hope is used most in the OT book of Job. Job, among all of his hardships, ultimately didn’t want his hope taken away.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” the Proverbs say, “but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”
If you or I struggle with worry today perhaps our bravest move is to take a step towards hope in a tangible way. Especially on an Election Day when folks from our culture act irrationally and childish. If the polls don’t go your way today, $10 says that the world will be here tomorrow and what should matter most to us will be waiting for our attention.
When the world sends you garbage today, send back music.
Today is Day 9 of 14 in our process of walking out of worry. If you’d like to download our journey and join the last few days with us, you can get it here.
Side Note: On Day 12 of the journey, we will meet together for a Communion Service at GracePoint Church, 6:30pm Thursday November 5th.
Today, we are reading a favorite Bible verse from Joseph Anglin, son of Communication Director at GracePoint Andrea Anglin. This has become Joseph’s life verse:
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
We are encouraged to read this verse two times over, slowly. We should notice the activity from God for God’s people in this passage. It is packed full of promises, things that God is able and desires to do for us.
In the midst of worry, it is helpful to meditate on the “verbs of God,” not just on the ideas of God. Ideas can be memorized, rehearsed, and protected in sanitized environments.
Opening ourselves to God’s verbs, on the other hand, takes guts. Waiting for God to do what God wants to do takes patience, obedience, and hope.
So, we are challenged to take one of the verbs in this passage, one that is particularly relevant to our worrisome situation today, and make it the foundation of our prayers.
One that I carry with me today is “I am with you,” which seems to be more than enough for me today.
We have entered the second week of the 14-day journey of walking out of worry. The purpose of this process is to help downgrade the way worry can paralyze us. If you would like to follow along with us at GracePoint, you can pick up on Day 8 by following the guide here.
Today’s challenge is to attend worship and to think about God’s nearness. One of the things that I have noticed as we are people with seasons of mourning, grief, pain, frustration, bewilderment, etc., we do not necessarily need answers to “why these things are happening” to us as much as we need to know that someone is there with us. Now, if questions can be answered that is a form of “with-ness,” because ultimately, we want to know that we are not alone.
We tend to worry because the future is so uncertain and we want to somehow control something. If we are worrying, at least we are doing something, we think.
I’ve found the most comfort in knowing that someone is there with me. Even know the world is falling apart around me, if someone is there to be with me, it doesn’t seem so scary.
The writer of the NT book of Hebrews highlights this idea about Jesus. The NIV translation (one of the most popular English versions) used to say that Jesus (as High Priest) is able to “sympathize” with us in our weakness, being tempted in every way, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) But, when the updated NIV translation came out in 2011, one of the changes from the 1984 to the 2011 version was to insert “empathize” in place of “sympathize.”
That distinction makes sense in our language. Sympathy, though helpful, goes not go as deep in sharing struggles as empathy does, right? Someone who has not just emotionally and intellectually been there with us but has really been where we have been is helpful in difficult seasons where we are prone to worry.
As you and I worship today, may we fix out eyes on Jesus for many reasons, including the powerful reality that he has been where we have been and he wasn’t crushed, but wonderfully rescued and vindicated by a loving Father from heaven.
Day 7 of our journey is to learn how to have an active Sabbath. God gave us a pattern: work 6 of 7 days a week. The Sabbath day is when we switch gears and learn how to “re-create,” to bond with life instead of being “workers” all of the time.
Sabbath’s main value is to delight. Here’s an observation: we are not delightful people. Just look at FB and we’ll see that people are stressed, opinionated, worried, and angry, and mostly about menial things.
Sabbath trains is to rest and to know limits, to trust that a day without working (and earning) will not leave us vulnerable. Sabbath, then, is an exercise in grace. Grace, Robert Farrar Capon said, is like a lame man riding on an escalator.
Trust, delight, and rest.
So, engage in Sabbath today. Enjoy something that re-creates you. Snap a picture and tag it with #ictworryfree.
I cooked french toast and eggs for my family, enjoyed 2 good cups of coffee, and will watch football today.
Day 6 in the walking out of worry is all about breathing. The way we breath helps our bodies switch gears and helps us to relax.
The challenge today is to take deep breaths from our “belly” (instead of our chest) and to slowly exhale. On the 5th exhale, whisper “relax.”
A steady stream of this will relax your body and allow your nervous system to “downshift.”
I bet you fall asleep doing this exercise. You’re welcome.
Follow the rest of the 14-day plan here.