Live Worry-Free

By Marjorie F. Eddington

Categories: Expressing God, Putting God First, Sermon on the Mount, Staying Positive

Worry, anxiety, stress, low-level fear seem to be part of every-day life. But Jesus clearly states, “Don’t worry.” Don’t even take a “thought for your life” (Matt 6:25). How are we to follow these instructions when there’s so much to worry about—children, careers, home, finances, relationships, education, every-day needs, and on and on?

The answer: Put God first. The Master says, “The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you” (6:33 ICB). What a calming, reassuring promise. God fulfills all our needs—the basics, plus more. Putting God first eliminates the need, cause, proclivity to worry. So let’s rejoice!

Now, doing what God wants and not what we want may take effort and humility. It may take a willingness to let go of our own human will, our own plans, and embrace God’s plan and direction for our lives, as well as the lives of our children, spouses, parents, colleagues, friends, bosses, etc. Seeking God first may mean that we turn away from human opinions, theories, reason, or advice and listen to divine guidance. We tend to find what we seek. If we focus on God’s kingdom and seek to understand God’s love, we’ll find blessings. If we focus on the problems, on the lack, we’ll tend to get stuck in worry.

Worry simply cannot effect change in a positive way. Worry has no power to help or to heal. Jesus pointed out that worrying can’t make us grow taller or live longer (6:27). “We can’t worry and pray at the same time,” as a friend of mine says. We can’t be stressed out and simultaneously be calm. Yet it’s in the calm that we hear the “still small voice” of God speaking to us, directing us, giving us answers that will meet our every need (I Kings 19:12).

But sometimes, it’s hard to quiet the noise. We may carry around a false sense of responsibility, especially as parents. We think we’re the ones who have to care for our families, provide for their housing, food, clothes, education, moral upbringing. We can get concerned that we’re not enough: we don’t have enough time or money; we’re not good enough because we make mistakes; we’re not sure if what we’re doing will help our children be kind, ethical, independent, successful individuals in the future.

Our anxiety is based on a negative future that hasn’t happened yet. We worry about the bad that might possibly occur. (We certainly don’t worry about all the good things that happen.) And then we bring all that angst to our present moment and live out from that angst. Being able to see the effect of actions is a positive trait, as is long-term thinking and planning. But fearing the future, feeling responsible for it, doesn’t bring clarity, peace, calm, or answers. In fact, it can have the opposite effect.

Just because a child is having a melt-down or struggling with peer pressure today doesn’t mean that he or she is going to be a mess later. And just because we make a mistake at work or in a personal relationship, or feel as if we’ve missed an amazing opportunity doesn’t mean that there isn’t a positive solution or an even better possibility.

Seeking God first silences the clamor of anxiety and allows us to hear God’s still, small, powerful, loving voice that brings answers, directs steps, and fulfills needs. Rather than worry, we can shift our focus, trust, and pray. What can we learn? What can we do differently? What does God have to say about this situation, this person, me? What’s the next step, God? There’s always the next moment … and the next moment is new. Turning over our moments to God yields results that some call miracles. And who doesn’t want a miracle?