Hello, my name is Tim Porter and I am one of the pastors for Faith Community Church. Welcome to Faith & Life.
At the beginning of 2020 I had a plan for my year. I started the year with great expectations and plans. Since I’ve been around for 48 years, I sorta know what to expect in the seasons of the year, and could plan out what I wanted to accomplish in the year.
All the rhythms and rituals and regularities of life that give us a sense of control were cancelled or dramatically changed--March madness cancelled, weddings with only small bridal parties, virtual graduations. I remember feeling a pit in my stomach, when we realized we would host Easter services online only... I’m grateful to God for the technology to do that, but I was shaken. Not only was there a great sense of loss in all the changes, if you are like me, you also felt a sense of helplessness, lack of control.
As I experienced the loss of control, part of me wanted to fight it--I hated the feeling. The lack of control increased my anxious thoughts.
But another part of me was led to humble myself and embrace it. There is wisdom in these circumstances for me to learn. There is an opportunity for me to trust God in levels, I have never trusted before.
One of the reasons we get anxious is because we believe we can control more than we can. We take tomorrows problems and try and solve them today. We take real concerns about our lives, and we try to control something that is not our responsibility.
Let me introduce to you a tool that has been helpful to me in learning to overcome anxiety, entrust to God, and focus on my responsibility.
In this graphic you can see two circles. In the middle circle are the things that we are each responsible for. I am responsible to love my wife, to parent our sons, to lead FCC. I am responsible to…
In the bigger circle are my concerns that I don’t have any control over. I can’t control how you respond to me, I can’t control the stock market, I can’t control if I am exposed to COVID-19, I can’t control…
Here’s where anxious thoughts come in. The moment I make my circle of responsibility bigger, and try to control things that are outside of my circle, then anxiety strikes.
This is one of the things that’s just so difficult about social media and worldwide evening news. We are constantly hearing about problems around the world that give us concern but we can’t control, and so we can easily move into anxiety.
Or if we vision into the future and try to figure out, if we will have a job in 3 months, then we get anxious. We are trying to control a concern. Our responsibility isn’t to figure out if we will have the same job in three months. Our responsibility is to work well and productively today, while we have a job.
We learn to pray and entrust our concerns to God. Don’t hear me saying that you don’t have to pray about your responsibilities! Please pray about those!
But for all of the concerns there is still something we can do, we can pray. And prayer matters. It might not always feel like it, but prayer is far more effective than worrying! When we pray, we are talking to our heavenly father, who can change our circumstances and help us with our concerns. God changes hearts, God causes rain to flow, and sun to shine. God is sovereign, good, and wise. God is in control and he cares for us and invites us to talk to him about our concerns, and then we trust him with our concerns.
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