Everyone watching this at some point in your life will have to deal with worry and anxiety and fear. It comes to all of us. The secret is how we manage it in a moment. It reminds me of a story of something that happened to me when I was 15 years of age. It started on a Saturday football match. A couple of hard tackles became an argument, and became a fight that developed two months later in a full blown fight. I got five stitches on my head. It wasn’t so much the pain from the five stitches, but it was the worry afterwards. Was it over? Would the fight start again? I spent years looking over my shoulder, trying to avoid the wrong guy and being caught in the wrong neighborhood.
So about two years after the headbutt incident, I’m in Belfast City Center with my girlfriend, and who walks up beside me at these very traffic lights, but the very same guy we had the fight with. And he says to me, “Hey, Mitch, still playing football? Good to see you again. ” And he walks on. I mean, he walks on! I’ve been worried for two years about another fight, and he’s not even thinking about it.
And that’s the danger of worry and anxiety and fear. It gets a hold of your life. Often the other person isn’t even thinking about it, and it captures you. Worry, anxiety, fear, unforgiveness. They’re all real character crushers, and that’s not what Jesus wants from our lives. In fact, the Bible has hundreds of verses that say, do not fear, do not worry about tomorrow, be anxious for nothing.
I want to read to you a verse in the Bible from Philippians 4:6, and I hope and pray it will be helpful for you today. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” Be anxious for nothing. That word, ‘anxious’ means ‘to be torn in two’ literally, and sometimes worry and fear and anxiety can do that. Richard Foster, in his classic book, A Celebration Of Discipline, invites us to take a posture where we place the palms of our hands, lay them on our legs, and to pray and just to lay down all our worries, burdens, and fears. And as I close today, you pray your own prayer, your best prayer, and lay your worries and your burdens and your fears onto Jesus. Let’s pray.
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