Merciful Truths

God’s Word doesn’t mince words. Sometimes the truth hurts. But it also mercifully, joyfully, frees.

Lately, the Lord has been using several merciful truths from this familiar passage to give me some joyful freedom.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (I Peter 5:6-7, NAS)

Ok, quick grammar lesson. If you’re like me, you tend to put a period after verse six. In fact, many Bible translations do. In the original Greek, however, these two verses form one sentence. I believe they are meant to be connected, and for a surprising reason.

Truth #1:  Exalting myself is at the heart of my anxiety.

Ouch. This one hit me hard, because I knew it was true. It’s called Pride, and it’s Ugly. When we’re anxious, isn’t it because deep down we want to be in control of a situation? We fret and worry in vain attempts to secure the outcome that seems best to US.

Time for another grammar lesson. The command in this sentence is “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” Why? Because HE is GOD and I am NOT. Pride exalts myself, deceiving me into thinking that I know best. Humility surrenders self and yields to God’s sovereign control.

Truth #2:  Casting my cares on Him is an act of humility.

Some Bible versions translate verse seven into the imperative: “Cast your cares upon the Lord…” But in the Greek text this verb isn’t in the form of a direct command.* Casting our cares upon Him is how we demonstrate the command to humble ourselves. The NET renders it like this:

…humble yourselves under his mighty hand BY casting all your cares on him… (Emphasis mine)

Bible teacher Beth Moore sums it up this way:

The act of humility is in the casting. The pride is in the keeping.”**

One final grammar lesson. The verb for “casting” was “used of casting garments on a beast of burden.”* Luke 19:35 contains this same Greek verb, and gives us a helpful word picture:

So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on. (NLT)

The disciples threw (cast) their garments on the colt, and Jesus rode on them in triumphal procession. When I cast my cares upon Jesus, I’m getting off of my high horse and allowing Him to take His rightful seat as King. I give Him my worries and admit my inability to control my situation. I say, “Jesus, be Lord over this. Jesus, please ride in triumph over this.”

Truth #3:  Believing God cares for me is a place of rest.

As I cast my cares upon Him, I am comforted, because He cares for me. He. Cares. For. Me.  Say it. Believe it!

Everything He does is motivated out of His love for us and for those we love. Instead of fretting about the outcome, we can actually, amazingly, rest. Because He genuinely cares and truly knows best.

This is changing how I pray. I no longer feel compelled to convince God that He should do what I think needs to be done in a particular situation. Instead, I pray something like this:

Lord, You know I’m worrying about _________. I confess my pride, my desire to play God here. I humble myself by casting my concerns upon You, because You are God. You alone are capable of handling this. I am not built to shoulder this burden, but You are. You are Almighty God, Creator, King. So I give it to You. You know what is best. I know You love me, and You also love _________. Instead of worrying about this, I will rest in the reality of Your love and care.

What welcome relief this brings!

Now whenever I feel anxiety rising, I try to remember to stop and acknowledge my pride. I’m learning to humble myself by casting my cares upon the Lord, letting go of my need to be in control, affirming that He is Able and I am Not. I’m resting in His loving care for me and for those I care about.

Yes, the truth can hurt. Pride and anxiety hurt too. But these merciful truths are beginning to set me free.

Seeds of Growth

 

*From a study of 1 Peter 5:6-7 called “Counsel Concerning Our Cares” by J. Hampton Keathley, at www.bible.org.

**From her excellent series, “The Basket Case,” which was the main inspiration for this blog post. If you’d like to watch it, go to www.tbn.org. Look for “Living Proof with Beth Moore” in the “Video Archives.”

An Important Note:  I wanted to share these biblical truths because they were helpful to me in my own struggles with worry and anxiety. I am aware that some of my brave friends battle more severe, chronic anxiety. I commend them for seeking professional help and encourage anyone who may be dealing with this to do the same.

 

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Wedding Worrier

 

Wedding centerpiece ii

In a reoccurring dream I am arranging and rearranging wedding reception centerpieces. Flowers here, candles there. No, that’s not right. Try again.

And again.

And again…

I wake up exhausted. And anxious.

I am, after all, the Mother-of-the-Bride.

But you can call me the “Wedding Worrier.”

Most of you probably know that our oldest daughter Emily is engaged to be married. We honestly couldn’t be happier. We love Morgan, and his family, and look forward to celebrating their Big Day the end of May. (To see a sweet video of his proposal, you can follow this link:  http://vimeo.com/112763976 )

My thoughtful friend Cathy recently gave me a book called It’s Her Wedding But I’ll Cry If I Want To: A Survival Guide for the Mother of the Bride. (She understands. Her daughter got married a little over a year ago.) I need this book. I definitely struggle in new situations like this, where I’m unsure of my role and its perimeters. Enter anxiety and frustration.

Yesterday I picked up another book and read these familiar words of Jesus in the fresh translation of The Message:

Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more. (Luke 12:24)
 

How this spoke to me! I tend to find security in the checklists and safety in the job descriptions. But God wants us to live free of all that, carefree in His care! And He does care!

Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it?…If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
(Luke 12:27a, 28)
 

Another talented friend had agreed to purchase and arrange the wedding flowers for us, but unfortunately had to bow out last week due to circumstances beyond her control. Emily and I were disappointed, to say the least. But reading this passage yesterday reminded me that our Creator God cares about little things like flowers, their colors and design. We don’t need to worry. We can trust Him to provide His beautiful best.

People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Luke 12:30-31)
 

I DO know God. I HAVE seen what He can do. So why do I fret and fuss as if He were not completely capable and in control? Like the loose tea in my morning pot, I need to “steep” myself in the reality of who He is. He is Jehovah Jireh, the God Who Provides. He will take the initiative to provide for every detail of this wedding, along with every other thing that concerns us.

Last night I meandered through a few stores, killing time while Laurel was at her youth worship team practice at church. I’ve been searching without success for an uncommon item we need for something we have planned as part of the wedding festivities. (Sorry to be so vague, but I risk the wrath of Emily if I reveal too much!) And there, perched alone on a shelf, was The Exact Item I had been looking for! It was as if God Himself had set it there for me to find!

But whether or not He actually placed it there, I knew in my heart it was a message from Him that Yes, He IS in the details and Yes, He cares. (Even about obscure, hard-to-find objects that I cannot at this time safely mention!)

So. Chances are you are most likely NOT currently neck-deep in Wedding Planning. But I wonder. What worries keep you up at night? What concerns preoccupy you during the day?

A line from a new favorite song on my WOW Worship CD goes like this:

I believe everything that You say You are. I believe and I have seen Your unchanging heart.”*

Putting our faith in WHO God is and WHAT He has done for us in the past will help us trust Him with the future and the things yet to be done.

He is aware. He cares. He will provide.

Join me in believing that the One who turned water into wedding wine can also turn worriers into…warriors.

 

 

*Lyrics are from “I Will Follow” by Jon Guerra. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OezS0Gzml10

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