My Little Bit of Scripture Surprise4
This past Monday started out pretty gloomy. I had trouble sleeping the night before, partly because aging brings sleeping issues and, yeah, I’m in “that season” of life when sleeping is typically challenging. But my restlessness was also related to some weighty concerns I’ve been having about people I love…a lot.
I finally fell asleep but my first waking thought was a dark one; another day of fretful worry was about to begin. I know better than to worry. I know the Bible says, “Be anxious for nothing.” I understand that worry does nothing to help situations or people and that it, in fact, it only hurts me and negatively influences my interactions with the very people I’m worried about.
But sometimes knowing the truth in my head just doesn’t make it all the way down to my heart. I want to become mature enough to catch it quicker and to cry out to God sooner for the help He promises to those being tempted to go down wrong roads. But this past weekend that just didn’t happen.
Monday during my devotional time I was reading Colossians chapter 2 and came to verses 6-7:
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
You’ve had the experience. You’re reading along in the Bible, maybe even dutifully, when the words seem to be highlighted in yellow. Overflowing with thankfulness intrigued me. Could thankfulness be a compelling antidote to my listless, preoccupying worry? What link was Paul making between strengthening faith and gratitude?
This made me think of something I’ve been learning recently about how the Bible can affect real life Christianity. Author and teacher Ed Welch talks about “applying a little bit of scripture to a little bit of life.” In short, he encourages Christians to see Biblical application not just in grand and glorious truths like justification (being declared not guilty by God) or propitiation (Jesus bearing the wrath of God for His redeemed) but in small, bite-sized ways that help a weary, worried woman through a Monday.
I decided to give this little bit of scripture a try. My husband and I planned to spend his day off together at Disney. (One of the benefits of living in Orlando. Yes, we were that old couple on the commercial at Disney with no grandchildren.) Because we both love the people I’m worried about, we also share the worry. I asked him if we could devote our day to avoiding talking about our worries, saying only things for which we’re grateful. Honestly, I didn’t know if it would work but I had faith to give it a try. Starting on the car ride there and ending after we got home late in the day, our interactions were a growing crescendo of Christ-exalting gratitude. As we commented on the Christmas decorations at Epcot, I mentioned how blessed I am that we live so close to Disney with affordable Florida resident passes that allow us to frequent the parks. Noticing some children nearby, Benny reflected on how grateful he is that our children are raising our grandchildren with biblical principles that make them a joy to have around. I thanked Benny for agreeing to us getting a new puppy soon, even though we already have a dog and I know he would prefer a pet-free life. And over dinner Benny spoke of his thankfulness for Redeemer Church (the church God led us to plant nearly three years ago) as he detailed evidences of God’s grace in our new spiritual family.
No complaints. No expressions of anxiety. No hand-wringing references to what isn’t happening that we wish were happening. No dark clouds hovering over my heart.
Three words out of 66 books in the Bible reached out and grabbed my heart. This little bit of scripture was God’s remedy for the little bit (that feels like a big chunk!) of my life: that part where anxiety screams loud and grabs my thoughts and affections. For a whole day I was more thankful than fearful; more aware of what God is doing than of what it seems He’s not doing; more able to see blessing than weakness; more captivated by His provision than what has not yet been provided.
Do you have a little bit of life that would benefit from a break from worry or lust or greed or bitterness? What might a day without battling anger, jealousy or hateful thoughts feel like? While God certainly wants us to pursue freedom from sin through repentance and putting sin to death as we become more like Christ, that’s a process the Bible calls sanctification. And yes, it’s a process that takes time. But last Monday I experienced the joy of having God invade my anxious heart with a little bit of scripture that gave me a taste for more freedom.
Are you willing to give a whole day of thoughts and words that express the situations and people for which you’re grateful? My early Thanksgiving Day was such a blessing I’m going to try to continue it. I know it’s not wrong to express my worries to God and others; in fact, the scriptures exhort us to pour out our hearts, even our complaints, to the Lord who hears and responds to our cries, and to walk in humble community with fellow believers. But I got a taste of something sweet that won’t be on our Thanksgiving table; the sweetness of gratitude governed my anxious heart, letting me see how often blessings are overshadowed by concerns and faith is deadened by worry.
Watch out for that little bit of scripture that can speak to your little bit of life. Little bits are much easier to swallow than big chunks anyway.
More in Redeemer Blog
October 30, 2019When are the Glory Days: Lessons Learned from Heartland Part Two
October 29, 2019When are the Glory Days? Lessons Learned from Heartland, Part One
October 8, 2019The Facets of Forgiveness