I remember as a teenager studying Proverbs 31 and marveling, even then, at the verse that says the godly woman "laughs at the time to come." I've always been a worrier. I came by it honestly, the child and grandchild of worry-ridden dutchmen from the farm. The ability to look into the future with carefree laughter is something I aspire to. And fail at.
So I was particularly struck by this passage in Paul E. Miller's A Praying Life today.
"What does an unused prayer link look like? Anxiety. Instead of connecting with God, our spirits fly around like severed power lines, destroying everything they touch. Anxiety wants to be God but lacks God's wisdom, power, or knowledge. A godlike stance without godlike character and ability is pure tension. Because anxiety is self on its own, it tries to get control. It is unable to relax in the face of chaos. Once one problem is solved, the next in line steps up. The new one looms so large, we forget the last deliverance."
I often feel like that severed power line, lashing out at those closest to me in frustration and anger because I feel like things are out of control. I'm worried about getting it all done, or worried about money, or worried about my children's future, and so I try to control something--most often my children or my circumstances. But it doesn't work. And not only have I made myself and those around me
miserable, I've also missed out on the opportunity of that "unused
Every now and then I have a lucid moment when I think about the fact that I can't control
these things anyway, and I try to pull myself together and stop being
anxious. But that doesn't work either. It's kind of like telling yourself not to think about purple elephants--suddenly all you can think about is purple elephants.
Miller ends the chapter with these words:
"When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worry to watching. You watch God weave his patterns in the story of your life. Instead of trying to be out front, designing your life, you realize you are inside God's drama. As you wait, you begin to see him work, and your life begins to sparkle with wonder. You are learning to trust again."
That's what I want--a life that sparkles with wonder. And I think Miller is right that the way in is the way of prayer. Admitting my utter helplessness and turning all my concerns over to the only one who has the power to do anything about them. When I utter those prayers of surrender, suddenly my problems seem manageable and I realize that they are under control. Not under my control, but under God's control. Which is a good thing, because he's much better at managing things than I am!
This day I will not tell myself not to worry about my schedule or about the children or about the things we need or about the decisions we face. But I will pray about them. I will take all my anxious, jumbled thoughts before the throne of grace, and there I will find mercy to help me in my times of need.