Rather than take away tomorrow’s trouble, worry voids today’s strength. –Max Lucado, from Come Thirsty
Everyone talks about worry being a waste of time, but my morning reading pointed out to me a much more compelling reason to avoid this wasteful habit. Worry actually divides my mind, keeping me from putting everything I have into today.
When Christ spoke about a house divided, He meant a couple of different things. One time, He uses this metaphor to argue against the accusation that He is from the devil since He could cast out demons. Why would Satan, Jesus reasons, do something to hurt himself? Another time, Christ uses this metaphor to explain why it is so important to put our whole selves into the pursuit of our love of God instead of being distracted by the things of this world that tarnish and will do us no good in heaven.
When worry takes my mind away from the things of today, it also takes me away from my closeness to Christ. I want to be engulfed in that closeness, not separated from it, for as Paul explains:
Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Paul’s words give us the steps for living what contemporary thinkers term “with mindfulness:”
- Pray about everything– I need to concentrate on what is happening to me and around me in every moment. When we pray about something, we naturally focus our minds to what is most important. By voicing what concerns us to God, we might even realize how ridiculous some of our concerns actually are.
- Be thankful– Gratitude makes us be more truthful with ourselves. Often, my inner voice tells me things that are downright lies, but it can be hard to call myself on these unless I bring my mind to what is actually true. When I take the time to name the many things I have to be thankful for, I inevitably unearth some of the lies I have been letting my worries tell me.
- Never stop– Paul says not to pray at certain times of the day or week, but about everything. It is possible to have hearts and minds that are in Christ as long as we actively engage our ability to foster our relationship with our Father. We cannot be thankful and worry at the same time. If we bring our concerns to God in prayer, we will find that what was a worry is overshadowed by the peace that is found in the presence of Christ.
How often because of worry have I raced through a day without giving full attention to really living it? By being a house divided, I have lost many opportunities to fully participate in the gift of life God mercifully grants to each of us.
The next time I catch myself being engrossed more by my worry than by the beauty of the day, I think I will imagine the scene from II Kings, where Elisha and his servant face a horde of enemies, assured of victory because of the “invisible” army of fiery chariots prepared to defend them:
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (II Kings 6: 15-17)
Just as God protected Elisha, we are assured that He also has our best interests at heart. He will be there for us during good times and bad. He did not design us to worry, but to follow the two commands that Jesus said summed up everything:
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)
If I am truly working to follow both these important instructions, what time do I have to worry? Indeed, if I truly love God with everything I have and then extend that love to others, when will I ever have time to worry?
A mindful life is truly a house undivided, unified in its goal to love God, obey His commands, and be thankful. May your prayers leave you with a mind unified in the love of Christ.