This devotional was originally published on September 7, 2016.
If worrisome thoughts were visible to the naked eye, I think they would look like little fleas hopping around inside our heads. Fleas are nasty, blood-sucking little parasites. They’re great at hiding and difficult to totally eradicate. And just as soon as you’ve gotten your pet totally flea-free, he goes right back into the yard and picks them up again.
Worries are like that. They can suck the life right out of you. They pop up unexpectedly, even when you’ve worked hard to stop thinking about them. It’s like we’re never totally rid of them. And just when we’ve overcome one worry, we go back out into the broken world and discover a whole crop of them waiting to glom onto us.
I can work hard to overcome my worries. I can tell myself, “Don’t think about that. You know worrying about it can’t change it!” Still, those worries lurk in the shadows, waiting to pop back up. Hating them doesn’t change them. Reasoning with myself doesn’t change them. Shaming myself for worrying by saying, “Well, if I really trusted God, I wouldn’t worry,” doesn’t change them. Worries are tough, they’re good at hiding, and they’ll wait until the reason and shame stop motivating me to white-knuckle my way toward peace.
I could keep on battling against my worries, hoping someday to completely eradicate them from my life for good. (It hasn’t worked so far, though. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?) Or I could choose to focus on something else instead.
Jesus taught that those who love him are to seek God’s kingdom first. We are to shift our attention to what God is doing in this world. All around us, he is working. His grace is calling lost people to him. He is working miracles, healing bodies, hearts and relationships. He is giving people the power to love and trust and forgive and hope. These are HUGE things! I can’t miss them if only I take the time to look. I can spend my time worrying about what I can’t change, or I could focus my mental energy on praying that the Father’s kingdom would come, that his will would be done here on earth more and more, just like it already is in heaven.
I will find what I look for. Inevitably. There will always be stuff to worry about. I don’t have to search very hard to see it. But there will also always be evidence of God’s grace in this broken world. There will always be signs of his active power around me. Where I focus is where I’ll go. Always.
I choose to focus on seeking his kingdom and his righteousness today. There will be times throughout the next few hours when something will try to pull my attention away from him. It will take some discipline for me to notice I’m drifting and to place my mind back on my God. But I know that he loves me. My worries do not love me. They love to torture me. I know my God will take care of me. All my worries ever care about is keeping me frozen, paralyzed with fear. Today, let’s all seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. And let’s tell one another how he gives us peace in return.