I feel like the recent message God has been communicating to me (in many forms) is all about stopping my worrying. First it was the song and the verse repeatedly coming to me about casting my cares on God. (Finding Favour’s “Cast My Cares” and 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God for he cares about you.”) That message continued for probably the past two weeks. But now it’s continuing in other forms. I was just praying a quick prayer driving home from work, asking God to show me how to let go and truly let Him have control of my life. I was feeling like yet another day passed that was out of balance and I was feeling unsure about whether I’m missing the point altogether. After I got home I decided to postpone getting ready for bed a little longer and read my devotional, Jesus Calling (amazing book by the way—I strongly recommend it!). The message I read today hit me as such a direct answer that I literally started laughing. I felt a moment of God’s presence washing over me with the realization of His answer to my practical question of how do I do this life His way.
For those of you who have the Jesus Calling devotional, the message was for February 26th. Here’s an excerpt: “I am leading you, step by step through your life. Hold My hand in trusting dependence, letting Me guide you through this day…When you try to figure out the future, you are grasping at things that are Mine…Whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, repent and return to Me. I will show you the next step forward…” The last sentence is what hit me the hardest, “Relax and enjoy the journey in My Presence, trusting me to open up the way before you as you go.” Relax—and enjoy the journey! Oh how little I stop and soak in the beauty of this journey. I am constantly rushing from one task to the next, constantly feeling like I am falling behind and falling short. But what am I rushing for? And what am I worrying about? Am I spending time and energy worrying about the future? What would my life look like if I actually lived according to God’s promises (like Psalm 32:8 and Jeremiah 29:11)? What would it feel like to fully trust in His provision and guidance for my future? How much more relaxation and enjoyment would I have on this journey called life?
So why do I stress and worry at all? It’s not good for my health and it’s definitely not following God’s instructions (Philippians 4:6, for example). I’m still trying to figure that out, but I think it has something to do with where I place my identity and self-worth. Obviously it’s a control issue, but I think that’s just the surface level explanation. The better question is where does that need or desire to control come from? I am a doer. I have long been defined by my responsible nature and this world we live in is happy to use accomplishments as a means of defining who I am. My primary love language is acts of service. I am the friend you can count on, the volunteer who won’t flake and the employee who will stay late to get the job done. People place value on me for those attributes, and so I find self-worth in those attributes as well. They have become the driving force in my identity. I put in the extra effort because I don’t want to let anyone down. In truth, I think I would struggle to know who I was without those responsibilities.
But that is not how God intended it to be. Yes, being responsible and dependable and accomplishing important tasks are all good things. And I believe God made me the person I am, through inherent personality traits and tendencies, as well as the shaping of who I’ve become through all of my life experiences. But, God also told me not to worry and He also promised to provide my every need, to make great plans for me and guide me along His best pathway for my life.* He created me to place my identity in Him, not in the things of this world whether good or bad. Everything in this world will pass away—not only the physical things but also the accomplishments and sense of responsibility. What happens if I lose my ability to complete this work and the people who are currently counting on me have to look to others for the support they need? I have seen it happen. A health issue can so quickly take away your abilities to complete even the simplest of tasks. So what happens to my self-worth and identity then? And this is where I am missing the point. “Relax and enjoy the journey of My Presence.”
I don’t need to worry and stress because my identity is not found in what I do. My identity is who I am—my being. And this past year has been trying to show me the message of gratitude. It really does boil down to simply that—a state of being grateful. I am not a human doing, I am a human being, and my state of being is formed out of a grateful heart. Grateful for who God is and the worth He places on me whether I accomplish or don’t. And if I am living out of a state of being grateful I can relax and enjoy the journey. Because it’s not up to me. I can’t mess it up. Someone else is in control of the destination and the route to get there. It is like the difference between driving in rush hour traffic or taking the train. I can just sit back and relax. Even if I wanted to take a different route it’s not up to me. The train has a set course; it is already mapped out. There may be some additional stops along the way, but I don’t have to worry about whether we get there on time or not. God is in control and He knows all and sees all, He even sees the future. And He has already promised to show me the way, all I have to do is bask in His presence—and His presence is pretty awesome.
An additional note: I actually wrote this post about a month ago, but never found the time to type it up until recently. Also, the devotional I mentioned is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (here’s a link to the version I have).
*Refer to Philippians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 32:8, and Matthew 6:25-34.