Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Forfeited Peace & Needless Pain

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

Back when Dad was alive, he nicknamed me "WW"....for "worry-wart".
Honestly, he actually called me that.
When he and Mom would leave our house to go home after a visit,
I would time them, and if they hadn't called by the time I thought they should be home,
I was on the phone calling their number.
That was back before cell phones, 
and knowing their car was old and not the most reliable 
made me worry....a lot.

It's really something how you reverse roles, as parents age.
That truly has to be one of the most difficult transitions in life.
Seeing them lose their faculties,
watching their independence fade,
and adjusting to being the one who looks after, rather than being the one who is looked after,
are hard pills to swallow.

When I would get really worked up, Mom would often tell me,
"Cheryl, when you're trusting, you're not worrying.
When you're worrying, you're not trusting."

I knew the words were true, but I kept right on worrying just the same.

We went to the Pickled Peach the other day.
It is located right next door to The Meeting Place Restaurant in Helen, GA....
the place I am always raving about.

They sell the neatest things in the Pickled Peach,
including signs like this one.

There were so many of them.
I love quotes, so would have loved to buy one of every sign they sell.
Since I couldn't do that, I took pictures of some of them.

This one especially hit a personal nerve.
How many precious hours of life have I spent worrying?
It's hard to say, but safe to say....way too many.

If medals were given out for the greatest worriers,
undoubtedly, I would be one of the top contenders of all time.

Worry is draining.
It absolutely empties today of its strength,
as the sign says.

Last night, I had a lot on my mind, and again, I found myself in that familiar state....
fretting, stressing, and worrying over things that are happening, 
but over which I have no control.

I went to the back bedroom that is farthest removed from the rest of the house,
I closed the door,
and I began to weep....
calling out to God from the depths of my heart,
telling Him all that was bothering me.

In the midst of my tears and explaining to God,
He brought the most incredible sense of peace.
He spoke Psalm 46:10 to me, like He has done so many times before.
"Be still, and know that I am God."
Then His voice spoke on,
"Just be still, child.
Everything is going to be all right.
Everything is under My control.
I see what is happening, and nothing that is touching your life is surprising Me."

Hearing that still, small, familiar voice completely soothes me....every, single time.

How grateful I am that God never changes.
That I can count on Him....always.

I can still hear Mom's voice....somewhere in the back of my mind...
when I am uptight and worrying,
"Cheryl, there are only three things in the world that God cannot do.
He can't change.
He can't lie.
And, He can't fail."

God is eternally faithful.
He is ever on guard.
He never sleeps.
There is never a moment the enemy can sneak anything past Him.
I know this.
Not only in a hypothetical sense,
but in a personally-proven-many-times-over sense.
In a back-against-the-wall-with-nowhere-else-to-turn sense.
God has never let me down.
He has never been too busy to listen to my needs....
to speak back to me....
to give me answers that are all-encompassingly problem-solving.

I don't know how long I prayed,
but what I do know is that once He started speaking,
I stopped worrying.

I Peter 5:7 says,
"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

The word "care" in this verse literally means "worry" & "anxiety" in the original Greek language.

Remember the old saying, "I go all to pieces"?

When you delve into the Greek a bit deeper, you will find that the original word, "mérimna",
 also means:
a part, separated from the whole,
dividing and fracturing a person's being into parts,
to be drawn in different directions,
anxiety about things pertaining to this earthly life.

Worrying actually fractures a person's being into parts.
It causes one to feel they are literally being torn apart...in several directions at once.

I cried again...as I studied for this devotional.
Thinking about the many times I have been torn to pieces, 
times when my nerves were literally shredded to bits,
and I have felt completely fractured.

All because of worry, care, and anxiety.

I don't choose to be a worry wart.
It is not something I have aspired or set out to be.
I am painfully aware that it completely displeases my Heavenly Father.
So, why do I continue down this path?
Why do I become so heavy-laden and burdened down?
Why don't I trust?
Why can't I just cast my cares upon Him?
I know...beyond a shadow of a doubt that He cares for me.

I know Jesus cares.

So, why do I choose to grip my worries until my knuckles turn white,
refusing to release them to Him?

The word "cast" in this verse literally means "throw" or "impose".
Jesus invites us to throw our worry and anxiety to Him.
He stands waiting...ready....hoping..."mitt" wide open...
to catch our ugly, tangled-up, heavy loads of care....
the minute we release it all and throw it over to Him.
And, though the word means "impose", Jesus doesn't see it that way.
He doesn't look at it as an imposition.
He welcomes it.
He wants it, but He won't wrench it from our stranglehold grasp.

Last night, like so many times before, I threw my care to Jesus.
I gave it to Him, and He took it from me.
I felt so much better.
After He mended my fractured nerves,
I opened the door, red-eyed, splotchy-cheeked, and smiling,
and re-joined my sweet, little family 
feeling a whole lot better....and lighter.

Worry weighs us down.
It steals our joy.
Robs our peace.
Kills our happiness.
It ruins everything about our day...
hanging over our heads like a dark, angry, ready-to-spill-over cloud.

Why do we hang on to it for so long?

I've been singing the old song written by Joseph M. Scriven, "What A Friend We Have In Jesus",
in and out of church for nearly all my life.
Only lately, has the depths of the comfort of its words truly became mine.

The first verse says this,
"What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer."

I don't think anyone anywhere sings it any better....or prettier than Alan Jackson.

If you can't view it, please click here to be redirected to it.

Joseph M. Scriven knew more than his fair share of heartache.
He left his native Ireland, grief-stricken,
 to move to Canada after his fiance' drowned on the night before their wedding.
After he arrived in Canada, he again fell in love & became engaged to be married to Eliza Roche. 
Before their wedding day, Eliza became suddenly ill from pneumonia and died.
Some time later, he received news from Ireland that his mother was very ill.
He wrote a poem to comfort her called, "Pray Without Ceasing".
That very poem was found shortly before Joseph's death by a friend who sat with him while he was ill.
The friend asked Joseph about it, and he told him he 
had never intended for anyone other than his mother to see it.
After its discovery, the poem was set to music and renamed,
becoming the dearly beloved hymn we cherish and call "What A Friend We Have In Jesus".

The man left this world without so much as a clue as to the magnitude of comfort and hope
his inspired words would bring to countless millions.

Through some of my deepest sorrow, it has come to be one of my favorite, most cherished songs.

How much peace have I forfeited through the years?
How much needless pain have I borne?
How much have you?
How much are you now?
At this moment?

What are you facing, my friend?
What is breaking your heart?
Causing you worry?
Inflicting anxiety?
Bringing you to tears?
Fracturing your inward spirit?

Are you ready to hand it over?
To release your need to sort it all out?
To give it up?
To One Who is willing....and actually hoping....to take it from you...
because He cares for you that much?

Throw it to Jesus.
All of it.
In its entirety.
He waits...with outstretched arms
 and wide-open, nail-scarred hands...
to catch it.

I don't think we come close to realizing or comprehending how much He really cares.
If we did, we would realize that our needs are His priority.
We would understand that He is our Father, and He will take care of all that pertains to us....
without us even having to ask.
We would accept the fact that He cares for us more than anyone else ever will.
And we would never worry again.