Today, in Sunday School, we continued our study in the book, Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Horger Alsup (again, I recommend it, if you get the chance and I am only half done reading it). The class is small. I am only there once in a blue moon, but today was a worthwhile day.
God has me come home for the lessons I need to hear.
I worry about everything. I like to control things and, as I talked about earlier this week (check out that post here), I need to let go of things. To top it all off, I care way too much (and yes, it is possible) about people and things that happen to people. I mean this in the sense that I grieve and worry for people and things that I have no connection to or control over. Aside from praying for them, there is nothing else I can do. Yet, I often get into a spiral of thinking there is.
Take earlier this week, for example. I was at a code in the middle of the night while I was on call. It was a young person who I was not actually caring for (just in the right place at the right time). They survived the initial resuscitation. I had hear the nurses complaining about how messed up this family was earlier in the night… Their colourful attitudes and language. This doesn’t change what happened. But, it shaped my view of them. And I wonder about them. How they are. I worry how choices made that night may have affected them.
Yes, it is good to think about it. To improve on things. To care. But, sometimes, I think it is too much. The amount I can think and worry.
I often take on other people’s grief. I don’t mean to. It just happens. I spiral and think of how I would feel in that situation. How they must feel in that situation.
It isn’t healthy. That much I know.
But not only those sorts of things. I worry about all sorts of petty things in life. Not just big things. Small things like supper or whether it will rain on our drive home tomorrow. I worry about my future, unconceived (is that even a word?) children.
The chapters we read addressed living out faith.
It was all wrapped up with this quote:
Know Him and act like you know Him. That is faith. –Wendy Horger Alsup
The author lines out a bit of a biblical approach to faith.
When things get crazy… Stop.
Sounds simple enough… But, how often do we really stop. Just take a deep breath. Arrest the flow of irrational and rational thoughts and pause.
She then suggests refocusing.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. –Colossians 3:1-3.
This is an interesting proposition.
My mind often races. At work, on my way to a call on the floor, I often rehash what I need to do when I get there, the differential diagnoses, the worst-case scenarios. At home, when things get rough, I think of how awful things could be if x happened.
The bottom line is that, with God’s help, we must stop in the middle of our struggles and force our line of vision back on the eternal perspective […] All else will pale in comparison when viewed against the backdrop of his eternal purposes. –Wendy Horger Alsup
How different would things be if I stopped and refocused things on God? What I know God to be. How I know God is in control (even though I try not to let Him be in control sometimes). And even more importantly, letting God take control.
Sometimes, it seems that things are terrible. That we can’t see past our own sheltered lives of awfulness. We are indeed selfish people. Even when I fixate on the troubles of others, it is often still my reactions that I focus on.
But, when you take a step back, and look at it knowing that God has control. And knowing how God has worked things out in the past, perhaps it might be easier to take a breath and move on. To not focus on our sinful worries. God hasn’t done anything to cause me harm in the past. Sometimes things feel bad. But, they turn out to be for good. We just can’t always see beyond what is in front of us.
God does some of His biggest stuff in our lives in the hard times. In fact, some of the hard times are used to show us the big stuff.
Maybe if we stop and refocus more, we would see it. We would benefit from His work. We would be acting more in obedience. We would be acting more in faith.
It isn’t easy. It takes practice. One of the ladies suggested tattooing stop on her forehead and walking around with a mirror in her face to encourage her remembering to take time before responding to things with negative thoughts, worry and sin. We decided that would look silly.
But perhaps, it takes conscious encouragement from others to remind us to stop and take a breath. Refocus on God. And remember the amazing things that come out of life through God, even in the times we spend freaking out. Sometimes He takes things away or makes things difficult in order to make Himself clearer, to bring Himself glory, to help us grow. Stopping and refocusing helps us to live in faith and act like it too.
We can’t do it all on our own. We have to let God carry us through. And truly, it is a beautiful thing once we stop and let it happen.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. –Habakuk 3:17-19