I have a piece of advice: Do not ask God a question about yourself if you are not ready to hear the truth. He is known for honesty, but honestly, sometimes it really smacks you right between the eyes.
Take yesterday, for instance. It was a perfect day weather-wise in my little valley. Dogwoods, sunshine, azaleas, perfect temperature. Ideal for a walk. I needed a break from thinking about the things I needed to do.
I was admiring the flowering trees and the blue skies when I made the mistake of asking God why I get so distracted and have such a difficult time focusing. A little too quickly for comfort, he responded: “You spend too much time meddling in other people’s business.”
“WHAT?” I mentally sputtered. “Not me . . . I don’t meddle. If there is one thing I have learned, it is to keep my mouth shut.”
“Well . . . most of the time. You have come a long way in that area . . . but there are other ways of inserting yourself into other people’s business.”
It hit me that he must be referring to my children. “My kids are ‘other people’?”
In what must have been a rhetorical question, he asked, “How old are your kids?”
I could not help myself. I responded, “Lord, you know how old they are. You were right there when they came into this world thirty-two and twenty-six years ago.”
“Do they live in your house? Does the IRS consider them your dependents?”
“They are independent then? Grown? Adults?”
“Yes, sir, theoretically.”
“Then I believe they qualify as ‘other people’.”
“Point taken. However, having established their legal status, I still care about them and have concerns for them, which I pray about, as per your directive, sir, with all due respect.”
“Hmmm . . . yes . . . your prayers . . . let’s talk about that.”
“You seem to have your own agenda.”
“Well . . . you did say to ask . . . . ”
“I did not say ‘instruct’. I believe my Son gave you a model?”
“Yes, sir, I always say that when I go to church.”
“Do you remember the part that says ‘thy will be done’?”
“I believe that means Me.”
“It’s always hard to say that part.”
“I’m not sure. It feels scary, like giving up control.”
I guess I must have hit pay dirt with that one. After considering it, I realized I really had no control to give up anyway. I remembered the other day, worrying about that hole in the top of the airplane, hoping that my daughter was not flying Southwest for her business trip. Did I have any control over that? No. Did I worry about it anyway? Yes. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. I kept these thoughts to myself. He was saying something else. I needed to tune back in.
“Could you not view it as freeing to allow Someone Else, like the Creator of the Universe, to be in charge? Could you try to see it as liberating to let Someone Else take responsibility?”
“Well, Lord, when you put it that way . . . .”
He broke in with, “You have struggled with worry. Do not deny it. I know you, remember? Here’s an idea for you: If you were to think of your worrying as mental meddling, how would that affect you?”
“I would try to curtail it. I don’t want to be considered a meddler.”
“Would that free your thought-life for more constructive pursuits?”
“Without a doubt! It takes an awful lot of brain-space to do all that worrying.”
“Then try it. Give up your illusion of control. Remember what you highlighted in Paul’s letter to the Philippians? See there . . . Chapter 4, verse 6 . . . ‘ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ May I remind you that it says ‘requests’, not ‘instructions’? You also highlighted the note below, which defines ‘anxious’ as ‘self-centered, counter-productive worry.’ And be sure to read on to verse 7 . . . see there . . . in neon yellow . . . ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'” He certainly was on a roll.
I saw it. I had marked it. Once again, he was right. “Self-centered, counter-productive worry, not legitimate cares and concerns for the spread of the gospel” was the full text of the note. He was saying something else . . .
“Bring your concerns to me. Leave them in my hands and go about your business. Believe me — you and everyone else will be better off.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“They told me.”