What are you worried about?

Sparrow tattoo“Cast all your anxiety on [God] because He cares for you.”             – 1 Peter 5:7, NRSV

What does that mean exactly? And maybe more tellingly, what does it mean that I regularly turn up as the guy who forgets or ignores this wisdom?

Anxiety is defined as worry about the future, right? Continual stewing over the errors or mis-steps of the past is called something else. I believe the clinical word for that little mind game is “useless.”

Yes, but aren’t there good solid reasons to be anxious about the future? I mean, what if the money runs out? What if my health or my wife’s health or the health of one of our kids or grandkids takes a sudden turn for the worse? What if the Pacific Northwest falls into the ocean? What if Donald Trump is elected President? (Hold on now! You’re really starting to scare me now!)

What if, indeed. And what if none of that happens? When we worry about all that stuff, aren’t we just borrowing imaginary troubles from tomorrow and using them to suck the joy out of today?

Yes. Yes indeed.

That sort of “take one day at a time” approach is good and sound. It is the kind of guidance we might expect to receive from Dr. Phil or from a 12-step group or from a benevolent uncle.

What I am most interested in digging into, however, is the part of this common sense advice that makes it particularly godly or biblical and sets it apart from advice you might get from Dr. Phil. Nothing against Dr. Phil, you understand. Good guy with good guidance.

But Dr. Phil is not the inspired Word of God.

The first thing I am interested in with this passage is the fact that it does not tell us not to have anxiety. In fact it seems to accept that because of our flawed and less-than-holy nature, people will get anxious about life. We will habitually worry about things we can’t control.

Instead, it tells us what to do with our anxiety when it pops up. It says, “Cast it on God.” In other words, it says to take that anxiety, wad it up into a big ball, dribble it a couple of times like it was a basketball, and then launch it toward the sky… just like Steph Curry shooting a three pointer. I’m not entirely sure about this, but it would probably help if you actually went through those exact motions every time you read this passage. And then after you launch it be sure to say, “Here you go, God! It’s all yours now!”

So why does God even want that stuff? We’ve already said it is imaginary… existing only in the fevered recesses of our tiny brains. Why not flush it down the toilet instead? Why not send it away with the other crap down there.

It’s because the act of giving our distorted and anxious ideas about the future to God is an act that makes an important… and even vital statement. Actively giving our anxieties to God (by pantomiming a Steph Curry three-point shot) says, “Here is my messed up vision of the future, God. By giving it to you, I am admitting that the future is not mine to know or own. I am hereby giving this to the one who actually DOES hold the future. I am giving it to you.”

In other words, it is an active act of surrender… it is surrendering MY vision to God’s vision and acknowledging which vision is superior.

The writer then finishes it all off by telling us that God invented this totally genius anxiety ridding process for one reason and one reason only: “Because he cares for you.”

Now is that cool or what!

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