Have you ever found yourself constantly bombarded on every front by the same message? At every turn? Just over a year ago I found myself in such a season. Everywhere I turned I heard the simple message: do not worry. Do not fear. From listening to the radio, to a talk I planned to give to a group of women on being motivated by fear, to my weekly Bible study and even my weekly exercise classes with P31 Fitness. In a program where a new theme is assigned each week to encourage, strengthen and empower women in not only their fitness, but spiritual life, we camped for two weeks on the topic of worry and fear.
Everywhere I turned I heard the same message – do not fear. Coincidence? I think not. I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in a loving God who knows exactly what we need to hear and when we need to hear it. I believe in a loving God who intimately knows every detail of every day we have faced, are facing and will face. I believe in a loving God who is so concerned for my wellbeing he would bombard me with a message I needed to hear to prepare me for what lay ahead.
You see, when I was encouraged for weeks on end not to worry & fear I started to take it to heart. I started to ask: what do I need to learn? How can I improve at not worrying? What struck me in particular were these statements:
- To worry or not to worry is a choice.
- It takes as much, if not more, energy to worry than it does to surrender and trust God.
God knows what we are facing. God knows the ultimate outcome. Can we alter the outcome with our worry? Can we improve the outcome with our worry? With fear? No. All we can do is deplete and exhaust ourselves.
I took these messages to heart as I walked into the unknown and uncharted waters of waiting. Waiting for answers. Answers I assumed I already knew. I decided to not allow worry to consume my thoughts. I prayed for answers so that I could just be free from worry and move on.
In that moment, when I prayed that prayer, an unexpected thing happened. Amidst my prayers for answers so I could experience relief and peace I heard a divine nudge. I say a divine nudge because I believe it was God’s voice, but not in an audible sense. Just in the sense that I heard an answer in my mind that shook me to my core – I felt God say even when you get your answer you won’t have peace because it is not going to be the answer you want. The way I was praying hinged upon getting one answer. The only way I would experience relief was if I got the exact answer I wanted. But, what if the answer I got was different?
In that moment I had a decision to make and I chose to trust. I no longer prayed for an answer, I prayed for peace regardless of the answer. I prayed that I would trust God and not allow the fear of the unknown to dictate my emotions or my attitude. In that window of waiting a surrender took place. Luckily that surrender took place within the first week of waiting.
You see those answers, the unknowns I had been waiting for, they eventually came, but they did not come in the promised 3-5 business days. They came 4 weeks later and with those answers came more waiting and more unknowns. The answers were not the answers I had hoped, but the groundwork had been laid in such a way that when the answers came I was prepared. I had made the choice to trust God. I had made the choice to invest my energy in surrender and not worry.
Even though I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me when I received my answer, I never hit the floor with a thud. Instead I hung suspended in mid-air, cradled by the weeks of preparation that told me – do not worry. The words placed there by a loving God who knew the answer would be coming and, in the weeks, leading up to the answer graciously prepared me to decide to trust and surrender instead of allowing my fears and worries to control my thoughts and emotions.
I have spent the past two years encouraging others that God loves you more than you can imagine. That God answers prayers. That there is nothing you can do nor anything anyone else can do to you that God cannot redeem. In essence, I have been constantly encouraging others to trust God with their deepest hurts and fears.
This past year, God graciously extended that invitation to me yet again – to trust him with my greatest hurts and fears. I chose to submit and trust going into the battle. I also do not think it was a coincidence that God had laid that message on my heart. I believe that message was there not just for others I encountered who were hurting. That message had been for me too. As a reminder of God’s faithfulness as I ventured into another very difficult season of my life. How fitting that I was constantly declaring God’s love, concern and faithfulness amidst life’s storms. That I was constantly reminded and declaring how God had been faithful to me in the past. That gave me confidence to walk forward boldly and trust a good and loving God even when my future was full of unknowns.
This past year I set out to be bold. I set out to live fearlessly. One of the ways God taught me to be fearless is to boldly chose to trust and surrender to him with my unknowns. To boldly refuse my natural tendencies to worry or fear. What would choosing to fear or worry really have accomplished anyway? All it would have done was rob me of my peace in the process. My prayer is that when faced with fear or worry each of us makes the conscious choice to trust and surrender to God. To experience his peace, regardless of our circumstances.
What about you? When you are faced with the unknown do you automatically chose to worry and fear or surrender? In the end it is a choice. You get to decide if you are going to focus your thoughts and energies on worry and fear or if you are going to choose to focus your energy on trust and surrender. Choosing to worry and fear are not easier and in the long run much more taxing on your physical well-being.
I pray you choose to surrender and trust, because I believe with all my heart God loves you more than you can imagine. Everything that concerns you, concerns him too. Everything that grieves you, grieves him too. Everything that hurts you, hurts him too. God is trustworthy, and he knows what tomorrow holds even when we do not. Go forth boldly my friend and do not worry.