I love these early mornings. Clay and I sleep with our windows open and in the early morning, cool breezes fill our room, inviting us to snuggle under our covers for a few more delightful moments. (Where we live in Colorado at 7500 feet, no one has air conditioning!) I can’t even remember a summer when I have been home so long or traveled so little, let alone sleep in until 6:30 or 7:00. During these moments, when I am awaken, feeling that I am the only one in the whole house who is awake, I have cherished my alone “in thought” moments. It seems sometimes, these are the moments when the Lord brings verses to mind and speaks to my heart. Yesterday morning, these thoughts sprang to my mind, so I thought I would take a few moments to write them down.
“Fret not, it leads only to evil doing.” Evil doing sounds bad–like robbing a bank, committing adultery or murdering someone. Yet, David clearly exhorts us 3 times in Psalm 37 to fret not! When I am fretting, I am putting lots of effort into worrying about something that might happen–(fear!)–or worrying about a problem that is in my face but doesn’t seem to have a good possible ending or isn’t going away (doubt in God, in His goodness and in His ability to take care of a situation.) Now, I am a practiced fretter–especially in the area of patience. I really wonder at God’s timing. I really often have a lot to tell Him about how I think He should be running my life. Maybe if I fret a little bit more passionately, He will work more quickly! And there are so many things about which to fret–finances–always! The kids’ futures–jobs, spouses, lives, choices. Our ministry–conferences, book deadlines, articles, Clay’s stress and pressure, staffing needs. And on and on.
Fret not–don’t worry–it will lead to evil doing. In what way? Fretting leads me to believe that I have the solution to my problems. Fretting leads me to doubt God and His providence in my life. Fretting can lead to frustration and anger and accusations and distraction and depression—all of which effect our relationships and actions and health.
Is there an example in the life of Christ to show me what David meant about what it looked like to fret not? Peter, Jesus’ friend and disciple, saw Him during His most difficult moment on earth. Jesus had been abandoned by all of His precious disciples–leaders–in whom He had been building faith for three years. He was being mocked by the Roman soldiers and Pharisees—those who were supposed to be most holy and most committed to His reality. He was being beaten, spit upon, unjustly treated and wrongly accused–being prepared to die the worst kind of death. Peter must surely have had these moments cemented into his mind, since it was at these moments he had denied three times that he had even known Jesus. If there was ever a time to fret, to worry, to fear, to wonder about the reality of God’s goodness, (my God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?), it was this time.
Yet, in his first book, Peter tells us, while being reviled, he did not revile in return. While suffering, he uttered no threats, but (and here is the secret and the choice He willingly made!) He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” I Peter 2:22-23. There it is–Jesus entrusted–gave the whole of His being and well being into God’s hands and trusted Him with the results. It almost insinuates that Jesus hardly noticed the attacks raging around Him. Entrust yourself to God, Sally!
What does David suggest I do instead of fretting? “Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness” Plant seeds of faithfulness, water them, nurture them, build a whole crop of this faithfulness! This indicates a choice of my will–decide to be faithful and then keep working on being faithful!
He goes on, “Delight thyself in the Lord” Make God my joy, my pleasure, my hope. “And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Ugh–again–wait?!) Seems He makes me practive faithfulness and waiting a lot, like it is an expected action of life for a faithful person.
Did Peter have anything else to say about this concept from his letter that would shed light on my need to fret not, and instead trust God?
“In the same way, you wives be submissive to your own husbands.” (Now, God is getting personal—did he mean this husband? This circumstance? This time?) and then He goes on to say, “Let not your adornment be external, but let it be the hidden person of the heart, (the place where no one but God sees!) with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of God. So, fretting not, involves the hidden places of my heart where I make a decision about how I will handle my pressures, circumstances and responsibilities. How is a spirit gentle and quiet?–when it has ceased trying to control, manage and take control of the circumstances.
God is transcendent–outside of time–able to see the behind and before–He has already planned to be with me and available to me every step of the way. He has a plan, but I have a choice to make–to rest in that plan, to accept the limitations of this husband, child, family or life circumstance and to rest in the trust that I have of God’s ownership of my life and times–or to rather worry, fret, beg, stew, advise–and finding more strife, emptiness and frustration. This is what is precious in His sight–my loyalty, deep inside every day, when He knows what trusting Him costs me, and how hard it was to trust, but whether I made the decision to abandon it all unto Him or choose to fret about it for a few more days. Let me choose to dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness today—no matter the issue, the relationship or the problem.
So, when I finally rolled out of bed, the Holy Spirit had already initiated a day for me–a day in which I needed rest, entrust, be patient and cultivate faithfulness. He was speaking to me from those very verses I had memorized as a youth–His voice already had a vocabulary built into my heart. Did He already know my computer server would be down for two days, that I couldn’t get letters from Sarah and Joel? (I really am tempted to whine and fret when I don’t get those expected emails from my sweet ones!) Get big bills from the May birthdays and mission trips prep and graduation and, and, and–oh yeah—gentle and quiet spirit–stop fretting, it leads only to evil doing! and so a new day, a new lesson, and a new understanding of just how patient God is with me, His child , who doesn’t always get it right at first, but is learning to listen!