Psalm 37 – Don’t Worry About A Thing

They look to be prospering. They get high positions and wield the power like they are to rule forever. The poor and needy look to be the first to suffer. 

It’s unfair. It’s not right. It’s upsetting. It’s aggravating. 

No wonder we are prone to fret, get anxious, worry and that leads to taking matters into our own hands. Railing against the wrong in a manner that only exacerbates the wrong. Thinking we can do better and only making matters worse. 

Trust in God can be hard when injustice appears so rife, but it remains the best course of action. It is not inaction or being passive. It is actively leaning and resting in the God of Justice and learning to be and do good. That way we see things from His perspective and see our way through challenging times. 

Only from that reassurance and trust can we learn to take the good advice: don’t worry about a  thing, because every little thing is going to be alright. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

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Anxiety, Responsibility And My Parents

Anxiety is something very easy to get.

It’s like catching the flu.  You’re alright one minute, then the next someone says something to you and all of a sudden, even if on the surface you appear in control, underneath, things are not so certain.

I am rather blessed in having the parents I’ve got.  My Mum is a passionate active type of person who appreciates people and as a Mother is very much concerned about the welfare of her children.  Sometimes that concern can border onto anxiety.  Meanwhile my Dad is a rather uncomplicated kinda guy.  He is not the type to make a big deal of much, and he just does what he needs to do with the minimum of fuss.  They compliment each other very well, for when my Mum might veer towards anxiety, my Dad will help her regain a perspective on things.

That balancing act is all about knowing what you can do and getting on with it, rather than carrying on with concerns in which you can do nothing.  I’m sure my Dad has been concerned about things before.  Life has not been a trouble-free deal for him even in married life and the family that followed.  I am sure that he went through a number of serious challenges in his wider family life, at work and at church.  Yet the focus that remained constant was that God would look after him.

Indeed he would sing that song God Will Take Care Of You with a knowing that went beyond pleasant melodies.  On that basis, he could focus on doing what he knew he had to do without procrastinating.  The assurance with which he did it was totally based on his understanding of God’s grace in his life.  I’ve seen my Mum over the years grow in that confidence too and express it in her own way.  She would pour out her worries in her prayer life passionately and with equal conviction work out how much she believed God afterwards.  I’m sure that must have saved her some high blood pressure and sleepless nights.

Witnessing these things and having responsibilities of my own from a marriage and children to living out all of what God calls for from me, I am glad that the Scriptures that came alive in the witness of my parents can be a guide to me.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

News and the Cares of this Life

You must be choking.

No I’m not suggesting that your name is Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon this year.  (Nice reference to latest events, eh?) I am referring to being choked by the cares of this life.  You might recall the Parable of the Sower and Jesus doing us the favour of giving the meaning of the parable.  One type of soil allowed the seed to grow, but tragically so did weeds and the effectiveness of that seed was compromised.

I am not against the news, on the contrary, I am grateful for those who go out to provide updates on what is going on locally, nationally and globally.  At its best it gives an excellent service to inform us and allow us not to live in ignorance to the plight of others.

What I notice, however, is that if you take on board the news reports and the perspective offered as well as the inherent bias attached to it, then your outlook will be somewhat fearful.  Economic unrest, civil unrest, instability here, uncertainty there, former great tennis players losing in the first round, price hikes, murders, tales of scandal and deceit, struggle and strife.  In fact whether it’s online, on television, on radio or in print, I cannot think of a single source of news from which you could emerge feeling hopeful about life.

Take this article for instance concerning the genuinely important issue of childcare.

It is left for the editorials or comment sections to give some sort of opinion on these issues.  Yet within this article there is enough to alarm anyone who has children or is thinking of having children and are concerned about their financial state.  More money to look after children while you work than to pay for the mortgage?!!

No wonder people get into debt.  No wonder people get depressed.  No wonder people are put off having children or live by the ‘rational’ view of keeping the number of children to one or two.  No wonder people get mired in a work-situation that demands all their time and leaves them with little if anything left to love their children, love their spouse and love the Lord with their whole being.

Having said that, and being aware of that it is for those who know God and love Jesus to live in a God-centred way so that things are viewed from that perspective.  Rather than being shaped and concerned by the news, we allow the Kingdom to allow us to react to news and see what wisdom God wants us to glean from it.

Like the same nursery article.  The concerns and cares that can be triggered from reading it is based on following a way of life as prescribed by the society around you.  This way of life does not emphasise being compassionate, being a good wife/husband, a good father/mother, a diligent steward of what God has given you.

This way of life is not content with the basics of life like food and clothes.  This way of life insists that to get by you need to get high on the social ladder and that requires you to say that if you have a 2-bedroomed flat today, you must aspire to a 4-bedroomed house.  One car today is two cars tomorrow.

Contrasting that with the way of life for the disciple of Christ should highlight the glaring discrepancies.  When our values and concerns are rooted and anchored in the truth that God tells us, that which would lead others to being wrapped and trapped in anxiety, is actually springboard for further dependence on God and looking for opportunities to share the peace of Christ with those who suffer.

I don’t write this from a life that is full of all the creature comforts and where I don’t have a care in the world.  There are very taxing and trying life circumstances affecting my family even as I write.  I won’t lie, sometimes I get worried, but then someone or something reminds me of who I am and whose I am.  That assurance allows me to get on with casting my cares on Him and get on with the cares that are on His heart whether that’s with me wife, children or community at large.

I am not there fully yet, but what I see when I look at the destination of being fully content in God is far better than what’s involved in being trapped in the wrapping of anxiety.  Hopefully that will also lead to being more fruitful for the One who planted the seed in me in the first place.

Either that or I must be choking.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

dmcd

Wisdom To Know The Difference

It is really intriguing how we can let things eat away at us. The fret, the worry, the anxiety, the not knowing, the needing to know, the possibilities, the what if’s, the if only’s.

We can become slaves to these and a great deal of time and energy is wasted on things that resolve nothing. My dad lived a life based on the simple principle that if he could do something about an issue and he should do it, then he would get on and do it by the grace of God. If he could not do anything about the situation he could still pray and leave it with God and spend the rest of his time doing what he could and should be doing. This gave my dad a tremendous aura of relative tranquility and serenity. He was not in a rush to do something and he would not be rushed by life’s circumstances into ill-thought through decisions.

That appears to work great for my dad. The tricky area is knowing the difference between what you can do and what you should not do. Even here, though, there is a constant Guide who walks with us and ahead of us to lead us along paths of righteousness. Those are not trouble-free paths, but they are jof-filled and scented with peace. Sensitivity and obedience to follow the Way is the wisdom needed to discern those tricky issues.

In a world frantically stressing over things that they have no control of, there is still a call to lay your burdens of anxiety down and follow the one who carries burdens because He cares.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

dmcd

Why Worry – Part Two

Last time out I was sharing about how my Dad was encouraging me again to not worry. I also spent some time looking at the debilitating effects of worry both in the physical and worse in the spiritual.

So how to overcome worrying? Well first thing is to address the fact that the opposite to worry is thanksgiving. Worrying is taking something that doesn’t belong to you. Thanksgiving as kind of hinted in the word itself is putting it back where it belongs.

Sounds bizarre in practice. Here are bills that need paying and the income suggests those bills won’t be paid. A trip to the doctor’s has informed you of the dreaded ‘c’ word. Your child comes home from school and finally confesses to being the victim of bullying. The spouse is not at home when you return, but a note is saying that maybe it’s time to spend some time apart to think things through. You respond with giving thanks to God? What?

Think it through, though.

What will your selfish desires acted out achieve? What will taking it on board and fretting it over really have as an outcome? So as you cannot handle it, give it to God thanking Him for the opportunity, even in your pain, to again prove Himself as healer, provider, protector, Father and friend. Not that He needs to for His sake – He’s fairly comfortable in His own track record, but this is one of those occasions when you could do with Him coming through again.

Here we go though, even if things do not turn out as you’d wish, thanksgiving keeps things in perspective. The issue is in the best hands – there is nothing more you can do and this exercise gives the whole issue back to the source of your being.

That’s what the encouragement to cast your cares on Him is all about – He cares so much that He knows it won’t do you any good carrying it, so having been there in the beginning, in the middle and at the end, He’s in the best position to take it on for you … if you’ll allow Him, by releasing it in giving it.

Not just giving it, but giving it with thanks. Giving it with gratitude that you need not carry the burden. Giving it appreciating the release it will give you to know that you have a Father who cares and wants you in as much as you can to actually invest your time in the things that matter – even in responding to the harsh realities with your head and heart looking to Him.

Not that I’ve mastered these things. I know I will continually be challenged on these so as to grow in Christ. What I’ve seen in my Dad, what I see in the Word and what I see in the examples of those few who choose not to worry is a great advert for the truth in my Dad’s rhetorical question – why worry.

Also reminds me of this song by the Winans that also sums up the position nicely. No need to worry, because either way, it will be all over … in the morning.

Thank you Jesus and thanks Dad.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

dmcd

Why Worry – Part One

The other day I had a phone conversation with my Dad. Usually telephone conversations with my Dad are known for their brevity. My Dad isn’t given to much speech, and to be honest, hard though it may be to believe, neither am I. If I don’t have to talk, I won’t. I enjoy the quiet and there’s plenty of dialogue going on in my head to not spoil it with opening my mouth.

So this phone conversation was scheduled to be a short one. On this occasion, however, Dad spent a bit longer on the phone and used the conversation to encourage me in the Lord. I like it when Dad encourages me in the Lord. I remember that I owe my spiritual and character heritage to him and Mum, so when he chooses to use the time to remind me of who Jesus is and implications for life, it has an added significance because it’s coming from him. I don’t mind the cries of favouritism or whatever – I’m guilty on all counts. He’s allowed, he’s my Dad, I love him and he rocks.

Among the areas in which he encouraged me was the stand-by word with which he has always encouraged me in word and example since I’ve had a memory to remember. That sentiment is ‘why worry’?

That is obviously a rhetorical question, rather than a challenge to come up with legitimate reasons to worry. It only came out when I was years gone from home, that all in the family was not rosy especially financially, but that would never be reflected on my Dad’s features. That’s testament to him drinking the medicine he’s prescribing.

His very laid back and down-to-earth reasoning behind the sentiment was simple. If you can do something about it, then you should do it. If you cannot do anything about it, you are only making matters worse by worrying about it. By making matters worse, that means you are not in a good condition to deal with the issue because your state of anxiety was never created to be the right one to deal with these things.

Roughly two thousand years before my Dad said that to his eldest son, Jesus Himself was encouraging people in his much lauded Sermon on the Mount was telling people to take no thought over even the most fundamental basic things of life. His reasoning likewise was along the lines that by worrying we would not gain an inch in stature (not that getting taller would do anything, anyway unless your issue was a complex over your height).

The beauty of life is that in as much as my Dad and Jesus were saying these words over the years, it is the experiences of the life that flesh out the wisdom of the words and seeing the consequences of being one who worries has been a cursory warning for me, just in case I wasn’t listening.

Worrying shows a lack of faith in God. What anxiety expresses is that perhaps God cannot control this situation in a manner that will be ultimately glorifying to Him. Maybe something will go horribly wrong. If that something went horribly wrong then I won’t be able to cope and other bad stuff will happen. All of this is choking the reality of who God is in our lives and how supreme He remains above everything else.

Worrying occupies our minds in ways that are not constructive whatsoever. Rather than having done everything just standing, we are prancing about, moving out of place, looking for anything to give us consolation other than the very source of consolation itself. Those distracting qualities have a bearing on the key relationships around us as well as on our own health. Note as well, linked to the previously mentioned choking, that in the parable of the sower how in Jesus’ explanation of it He refers to the two elements that choke the life out of the plant as being both the deceitfulness of riches and the cares of this world. That is to say we are being unfruitful in fretting on issues in this world – worrying about Kingdom business is virtually an oxymoron. How can you worry about the establishment of the inevitable Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy? Where’s the worry there??

Ultimately worrying in not only being a lack of faith is essentially idolatry – for our worship in that expression is not of the one True God – like the people of Israel with Golden Calf we have chosen a substitute on which to pile on attention. Also like another tragic episode in the history of the nation of Israel, rather than depending on God, we entrust ourselves to others in the belief that they will certainly offer us the help we need.

As someone who has been caught worrying on the odd occasion, I can attest to the debilitating and fruitless nature of the exercise. My physical health has suffered because of it. Key relationships have definitely suffered for it. Performance levels at work have dropped over it. That’s just some of the negative effects of worrying. Witnessing it in others I have seen people who should be mature examples in Christ come out with the most tragic reactions to trying situations that remind me again that my hope and trust really must remain in Jesus.

Having established all the bad there is in worry, what’s a solution? Find out in tomorrow’s post.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

dmcd