Do you ever have those moments when you are spending time reading God's Word and a devotional and the Holy Spirit convicts you really strongly of something in your life? That happened to me last week. I am working through Melissa Kruger's book Walking With God in the Season of Motherhood (WalterBrook Press, 2015) and got up to the chapter titled Fighting Against Anxiety and Worry: Walking in Peace. Fear and anxiety aren't a new issue for me (see my recent review of Fear and Faith by the lovely Trillia Newbell), but Melissa Kruger addressed this issue by asking the simple question:
Consider what you are currently worried about regarding your family or children. How much time do you spend worrying about the future?
And it hit me: while I would not classify myself as an overly anxious person, I do spend quite a bit of my life living under worry-driven pressure. As a person who loves to be orderly, routined and pretty self-reliant, I spend lots of my day thinking through things and problem solving in my own strength. As I thought more about it, I began to wonder whether this self-sufficiency very quickly turns to self-induced worry. Do I live a carefree life because I am fully reliant on God? Probably not. It is so easy in our culture and society to strategise, problem-solve, plan and pursue things in our own strength. From other people's opinions to our children's developmental stages to our future, we look and ruminate and devise ways of sorting through our problems and feel a degree of pressure or worry about these things. Are we saving enough? Are we doing enough to help that child? Are we disciplining enough? Did that person take that the wrong way? Should I...? Do I....? Am I....?
In trying to do things in my own strength, I feel pressure and worry because I feel responsible. The way my life goes comes down to me and my decisions, skills and achievements. It is often only when I hit a snag in the journey of life; such as when I am given a challenging child, have a hiccup at work or am single longer than I would have expected; then I turn to God in surrender, which often begins with the "why" questions.
In Matthew 6:24-34 we read:
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. 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. Are you not of more value than they?And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
It is a passage we are usually quite familiar with and one we tell to younger people to remind them that God has all things in His hand. But do we believe it? By being self-sufficient and relying on our own strength, in essence we are trying to serve two masters and for me, that other master is often Myself. My flesh sneaks up on me and before I know it, I've gone through the day feeling pressure to get things on my list completed or solve my problems, so that I feel pride in my achievements and feel that I am worthwhile.
So, what is the not-so-secret to living a worry free life? Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (verse 33). As I fill my mind with God's Word and fix my eyes on eternity, my worries will lessen, because I will have a perspective change. I will begin to see that other peoples’ opinions don't matter as much as God's opinion; I will see that God has all things in control including using my mothering for His glory and I will see that finances are just a resource He gives me to use to further His kingdom. Yes, it is important that we work hard (Proverbs 6:6-8, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) but above all we must glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31) for in so doing, we will experience His peace that transcends all our understanding (Philippians 4:7), because lets face it: we don't understand all and can't predict the future, so why spend time worrying about what we can't control or understand?
Peace is not found by escaping to a mountain cabin or remote beach. Nor is it found in going our own way or gaining approval from others. Psalm 119:165 tells us, "Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble." Just as a train glides smoothly when it follows its predetermined track, we enjoy peaceful lives when we follow the wisdom of God's ways. A woman who seeks God, loves His Word, and thankfully accepts His provision will bless her children with a peaceful home. - Melissa Kruger, Walking With God in the Season of Motherhood (WalterBrook Press, 2015), p.133-134
As we venture forth in the week set before us, may we seek to follow the wisdom of God's ways. May we truly seek God, pray for a love for His Word to rise within us and thankfully recognise His provisions - including that of the gift of peace.