A few months ago, my Bride and I rented a cabin the mountains of North Georgia for the weekend and got away for a few days. It was a much needed break as we were fixing to enter a very busy season. There was so much joy in the weekend. First, to just have time away with Amber was nothing but good. It’s something that we are trying to make a more intentional part of our marriage as our kids are now older.
While we were there, we did something that seemed so new to us, but was a very good thing. We took time to talk together and talk with God, before we arrived, and then while we were there, just to ponder what we see for our family in the coming year. What are some of our hopes and dreams and what areas of our life do we feel like we need to focus heavier in prayer for ourselves and our kids. It was frontier territory for us, but got us to begin thinking about things a little differently. This is something that we have felt God really growing us in of late. What is the frontier? How do we stretch ourselves and grow.
While we were in this cabin, we made a cool find. Tied up with a small band, were 3 books. Each one was an old one year devotional from the early 20th century. They were title God’s Minute, God’s Purpose, and God’s Message. They were sitting on the lower shelf of a lamp stand and more so for decoration than anything. How often do guests pick up and read those books? Who knows.
We took some time to begin reviewing through some of the devotionals. Such rich writing, with each day written by someone different. We got such a kick out of those books.
Then we turned to the devotional for that particular day, March 8th, which was written by Rev. William P. Merrill. A turn of the century Presbyterian minister. While the date of this message was actually written is shown, based on Rev Merrill’s life, it would likely have been somewhere between the the 1910s and 1940s between the World Wars and the Great Depression.
Anyone reading this message would note, however, that it still applies today. He starts with quoting Jesus in Matthew 24:6, “See that ye be not troubled” (KJV). From the ESV, “See that you are not alarmed.” If you read the full passage, you will see Jesus talking about hearing of wars and rumors of wars, and the things that must take place near the end of the age. Merrill quotes from Robert Browning’s interpretation as, “Trust God; see all, nor be afraid.”
Merrill talks about this being good counsel for anxious times. To quote what he wrote:
“Good counsel for anxious times! We need it now, and always.
Some see the disquieting conditions and are alarmed. They lose heart, and give up the fight. Others keep their peace of mind by refusing to face the truth…We are living in a disturbed age. Many are fearful and anxious. The Master is calling for many followers who can face the facts without fear, because deep in their hearts is the grace of a living faith, so that they can “see all, and not be afraid.”
Just ponder that and think about it. How much do we spend of our time worrying and being anxious about one thing or another. We know we live in desperate times. There is so much suffering and struggle going on all around us. People have lost sight of real joy and are too wrapped up in unimportant things. We worry about everything.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 to not be anxious Do not worry. Paul writes in Philippians 4 to “Be anxious for nothing.” Despite all of this knowledge that, Christ, we are supposed to be free, we can’t experience real freedom, because we still let the worries of this world bog us down. Just think of the type of freedom that can come when we stop letting the most unimportant things keep us bogged down and worried and anxious.
As Rev. Merrill wrote that Jesus is calling on followers who can rise above of all of that, see that struggle and suffering that is right in front of us, but are not afraid because of the love, joy, and peace that is found in Jesus Christ. There’s no need to worry, ever.
I write this, not just to those of you reading this, but to myself. I’d be lying if I said I never worried. I’m just as guilty as anyone in different situations. However, when I get reminded in some way of what Jesus said and what Paul wrote and to add on to Philippians 4 that rather than being anxious, “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, “ I remember to turn to Jesus in that moment and cast my worries and anxiousness toward Him.
My challenge to you is this. Spend some time to think about and even write down the things that have you most worried and anxious right now. Spend time with God and talk to Him about that. Is that thing, in the grand scheme of God’s Larger Story, really something to get all knotted up for? Begin to pray to renounce any any agreements made with that worry and invite Jesus in.
The enemy wants to keep you in the bondage of worry and anxiousness. All that does is keep you in a state of uncertainty, within yourself, of whether you can truly trust what God has already said and promised. There’s is so much hope ahead for us who are in Christ, should we choose to take the narrow road and follow. Part of following is letting go of the extra weight, such as worry, doubt, and fear. Think of it as going on a long hike down difficult trail. You only carry what is needed. The unneeded stuff you shed and don’t carry. Same here. Don’t carry the unneeded burdens.
I was so thankful to see these devotionals. This particular writing was so timely. Look forward to returning to this cabin to dive in a little more.