As I sat down to have my quiet time with the Lord, I read in Sarah Young’s “Jesus Always” devotional – “strive to live more fully in the present, refusing to worry about tomorrow.” Those words really hit me hard, as I had been struggling with a health issue – one for which I really had no answers for. As I continued to read, I was reminded that striving to live this way involves focusing my effort and energy intentionally on walking in trust with the Lord, following His guidance each step. Striving…not to worry!
Now if you’re like me, this is a real struggle to keep the right focus, especially when our world is full of anxieties and challenges to occupy our lives – sometimes the concerns have to do with the world and sometimes they are all too “up close and personal.” (If you don’t have any concerns now, then sit tight and prepare for when they pop up, because they could be just around the corner.)
Why shouldn’t we worry, since life gives us cause to do so? Because worry robs us of joy and freedom, and makes us live in fear. The Bible calls us to the opposite – to trust in the Lord and cast all of our cares on the One who cares for us. So how do we move toward Him and toward trust and peace? It takes striving, my friends!
Below are a few tips that have helped me as I strive to release worry and embrace trust.
REMEMBER to trust the Lord and His promises. You may want to write some of these on post-it notes to display, make a screen saver, or use other creative ways to remind yourself of these promises throughout the day. What you put before your eyes will stay on your heart.
READY your mind and heart for battle. Use God’s word to FIGHT BACK against worry and anxiety. Have a go-to verse to bring to mind when you want to dwell on a concern. Isaiah 43:10 says to “take EVERY thought captive.” This requires action!
RESIST worry. Don’t dwell on the concern, as a dog chews on a chew toy. Release it and resist it. James 4:7 says that when we submit to God, and resist the devil, he will flee from you. It doesn’t say maybe he’ll back off – it says he will FLEE. Our job is to RESIST.
REPLACE your worry list of “unknowns” with the facts that you do KNOW. Replace idle worry with activity. A friend gave me a beautiful plant to use as a reminder of God’s faithfulness. It sits on my kitchen window sill (see picture) and when I see this plant, it reminds me to think on God’s faithfulness, and exchange my worry with His promises. And as I do something active – caring for this plant – I am reminded of God’s constant care for me (And, believe it or not, it’s still alive!)
Another practical tool to use to replace your “concerns” is to wear a wrist band that you can gently snap. A counselor friend of mine told me about this tool when I was going through a time when my mind would “default” to a negative path. When you notice your thoughts are travelling down a negative path, gently snap the band, as a reminder to change the direction of your thinking. (Striving to renew your mind!)
REST in the Lord: Psalm 62:5 says, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God. My hope comes from Him.” One tool I’ve been using a lot lately is relaxation breathing. Inhale slow deep breaths through the nose, expanding your diaphragm, and then exhale slowly, blowing the air out. You can add a spiritual benefit to this: as you inhale, focus on God’s strength and power, and as you exhale, blow away your worry, anxiety and stress. I am noticing a sense of peace and rest as I practice this breathing exercise.
RELAX: It’s hard to calm down if we don’t slow down. Try any of the following.
Finally, let the Lord’s presence RESONATE with you throughout your day. Take time to really meditate and focus on Him. Meet with Him and allow Him to encourage you!
I hope and pray that these tools help you as you strive to focus on God’s goodness and faithfulness to us today. One of the purposes of experiencing worrisome trials is to help one another, so I’m giving you tips that I’m learning to rely on. Let me know how they work for you in the comments below. And please share some of your tips as well!
Teri Moscatelli is the Director of Operations for Body & Soul and teaches Body & Soul classes in Bowie, MD. In addition, Teri is a popular speaker and leads fitness demonstrations at women’s retreats and events. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.