1) Worries and anxiety: In a recent survey reported in Reuters, via MSNBC, 90% of the respondents said that they were worried about how well prepared they were for retirement. Between 20 and 30 percent of all Americans will live today under significant stress. Thirteen million will worry intensely for at least 90 minutes. It may be about our marriages, children, jobs, mortgages, health, grades, friends or a host of other issues. Whatever the source, worry is an emotion with which all of us are familiar and which 27 percent of us experience virtually on a daily basis. (Statistics taken from American Demographics and MD Magazine, p 28). But a University of Michigan study determined that 60% of our worries are unwarranted; 20% have already become past activities and are completely out of our control; 10% are so petty that they don't make any difference at all. Of the remaining 10% only 4 to 5% are real and justifiable, and we can't do anything about half of those. So only 2% of our worries are real.
2) "One Day At A Time." Several years ago a country gospel singer named Christy Lane scored an international hit with a record titled "One Day At A Time." “One day at a time--this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.” Its popularity probably had little to do with the tune, which was ordinary at best. Nor could you explain its appeal by referring to Ms. Lane's voice. She has a nice voice, but were it the reason for the success of her song then each of her recordings would have gone gold. The bottom line is this: it was the words of the song that appealed to millions the world around, the words which deep down we all know are true and wish we had the faith to live up to. The best we can reasonably do in this world is to live one day at a time and leave the rest up to God. Too often, too many of us become trapped in the past or seduced by the future, to the point that we miss out on the present -- which is actually all any of us ever has.
3) “Golfer’s Bible.” Perhaps the finest golf coach America ever produced was the late Harvey Penick of Texas. He wrote the Little Red Book which is sort of the “golfer’s Bible.” Mr. Penick said that most golfers do not think on the golf course; they just worry. “Worrying is a misuse of your mind on the golf course,” said Mr. Penick. “Whatever your obstacle, worry will only make it more difficult. Worry causes your muscles to tense up, and it is impossible to make a good golf swing when your muscles are too tense.” “Rather than worrying,” he said, “be mindful of the shot at hand and go ahead and play it as if you are going to hit the best shot of your life. You really might do it.” [Penick, Harvey, with Bud Shrake, The Wisdom of Harvey Penick, (Simon & Schuster: New York, 1997), p.298.] This is great advice about life, not just about golf. Indeed, Mr. Penick’s words remind me of what Jesus said about worry.**************
PROVIDENCE OF GOD
John Wesley's father, Samuel, was a dedicated pastor, but there were those in his parish who did not like him. On February 9, 1709, a fire broke out in the rectory at Epworth, possibly set by one of the rector's enemies. Young John, not yet six years old, was stranded on an upper floor of the building. Two neighbors rescued the lad just seconds before the roof crashed in. One neighbor stood on the other's shoulders and pulled young John through the window.
Samuel Wesley said, "Come, neighbors, let us kneel down. Let us give thanks to God. He has given me all my eight children. Let the house go. I am rich enough." John Wesley often referred to himself as a "brand plucked out of the fire" (Zech 3:2; Amos 4:11). In later years he often noted February 9 in his journal and gave thanks to God for His mercy. Samuel Wesley labored for 40 years at Epworth and saw very little fruit; but consider what his family accomplished!
W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers, Moody Press, 1984, p. 251.
The citizens of Feldkirch, Austria, didn't know what to do. Napoleon's massive army was preparing to attack. Soldiers had been spotted on the heights above the little town, which was situated on the Austrian border. A council of citizens was hastily summoned to decide whether they should try to defend themselves or display the white flag of surrender. It happened to be Easter Sunday, and the people had gathered in the local church.
The pastor rose and said, "Friends, we have been counting on our own strength, and apparently that has failed. As this is the day of our Lord's resurrection, let us just ring the bells, have our services as usual, and leave the matter in His hands. We know only our weakness, and not the power of God to defend us." The council accepted his plan and the church bells rang. The enemy, hearing the sudden peal, concluded that the Austrian army had arrived during the night to defend the town. Before the service ended, the enemy broke camp and left.
John Kenneth Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his family's housekeeper:
It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House.
"Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson.""He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him."
"Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him."
"No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you. When I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. "Tell that woman I want her here in the White House."
Published by Houghton Mifflin, Reader's Digest, December, 1981.
One day, while my son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, "Hey Dad! Catch me!" I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and them yelled "Hey Dad!" I became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk.
When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: "Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???"
He responded with remarkable calmness: "Sure...because you're my Dad." His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the hilt because I could be trusted. Isn't this even more true for a Christian?
Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 46-47.
"Duties are ours, events are God's; When our faith goes to meddle with events, and to hold account upon God's Providence, and beginneth to say, 'How wilt Thou do this or that?' we lose ground; we have nothing to do there; it is our part to let the Almighty exercise His own office, and steer His own helm; there is nothing left for us, but to see how we may be approved of Him, and how we roll the weight of our weak souls upon Him who is God omnipotent, and when we thus essay miscarrieth, it shall be neither our sin nor our cross."
Samuel Rutherford, quoted in Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, Ruth Bell Graham, 1991, Focus on the Family Publishing, p. 106.
There is no situation I can get into that God cannot get me out. Some years ago when I was learning to fly, my instructor told me to put the plane into a steep and extended dive. I was totally unprepared for what was about to happen. After a brief time the engine stalled, and the plane began to plunge out-of-control. It soon became evident that the instructor was not going to help me at all. After a few seconds, which seemed like eternity, my mind began to function again. I quickly corrected the situation.
Immediately I turned to the instructor and began to vent my fearful frustrations on him. He very calmly said to me, "There is no position you can get this airplane into that I cannot get you out of. If you want to learn to fly, go up there and do it again." At that moment God seemed to be saying to me, "Remember this. As you serve Me, there is no situation you can get yourself into that I cannot get you out of. If you trust me, you will be all right." That lesson has been proven true in my ministry many times over the years.
James Brown, Evangeline Baptist Church, Wildsville, LA, in Discoveries, Fall, 1991, Vol. 2, No. 4.
Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee,
Trust Him when thy strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Seems the hardest thing of all.
Trust Him, He is ever faithful,
Trust Him, for his will is best,
Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus
Is the only place of rest.
David, a 2-year old with leukemia, was taken by him mother, Deborah, to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, to see Dr. John Truman who specializes in treating children with cancer and various blood diseases. Dr. Truman's prognosis was devastating: "He has a 50-50 chance." The countless clinic visits, the blood tests, the intravenous drugs, the fear and pain--the mother's ordeal can be almost as bad as the child's because she must stand by, unable to bear the pain herself. David never cried in the waiting room, and although his friends in the clinic had to hurt him and stick needles in him, he hustled in ahead of him mother with a smile, sure of the welcome he always got.
When he was three, David had to have a spinal tap--a painful procedure at any age. It was explained to him that, because he was sick, Dr. Truman had to do something to make him better. "If it hurts, remember it's because he loves you," Deborah said. The procedure was horrendous. It took three nurses to hold David still, while he yelled and sobbed and struggled. When it was almost over, the tiny boy, soaked in sweat and tears, looked up at the doctor and gasped, "Thank you, Dr. Tooman, for my hurting."
Monica Dickens, Miracles of Courage, 1985.
A television program preceding the 1988 Winter Olympics featured blind skiers being trained for slalom skiing, impossible as that sounds. Paired with sighted skiers, the blind skiers were taught on the flats how to make right and left turns. When that was mastered, they were taken to the slalom slope, where their sighted partners skied beside them shouting, "Left!" and "Right!" As they obeyed the commands, they were able to negotiate the course and cross the finish line, depending solely on the sighted skiers' word. It was either complete trust or catastrophe.
What a vivid picture of the Christian life! In this world, we are in reality blind about what course to take. We must rely solely on the Word of the only One who is truly sighted--God Himself. His Word gives us the direction we need to finish the course.
Robert W. Sutton.
Years ago, Monroe Parker was traveling through South Alabama on one of those hot, sultry Alabama days. He stopped at a watermelon stand, picked out a watermelon, and asked the proprietor how much it cost. "It's $1.10," he replied. Parker dug into his pocket, found only a bill and said, "All I have is a dollar."
"That's ok," the proprietor said, "I'll trust you for it.""Well, that's mighty nice of you," Parker responded, and picking up the watermelon, started to leave.
"Hey, where are you going?" the man behind the counter demanded.
"I'm going outside to eat my watermelon." "But you forgot to give me the dollar!"
"You said you would trust me for it," Parker called back.
"Yeah, but I meant I would trust you for the dime!"
"Mack," Parker replied, "You were't going to trust me at all. You were just going to take a ten-cent gamble on my integrity!"
Uncle Oscar was apprehensive about his first airplane ride. His friends, eager to hear how it went, asked if he enjoyed the flight. "Well," commented Uncle Oscar, "it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, but I'll tell you this. I never did put all my weight down!"
A man who lived on Long Island was able one day to satisfy a lifelong ambition by purchasing for himself a very fine barometer. When the instrument arrived at his home, he was extremely disappointed to find that the indicating needle appeared to be stuck, pointing to the sector marked "HURRICANE." After shaking the barometer very vigorously several times, its new owner sat down and wrote a scorching letter to the store from which he had purchased the instrument. The following morning on the way to his office in New York, he mailed the letter.
That evening he returned to Long Island to find not only the barometer missing, but his house also. The barometer's needle had been right--there was a hurricane!
E. Schuyler English.
One problem I remember was a time when our son Bob broke our trust and lied to his mother and me. He was still young, dating Linda, his wife-to-be, and was only allowed to see her on certain nights. Well, one night he wanted to see her without permission and told us he was at his friend's house. When we found out the truth, there was a real scene between us. He had violated our trust; it was like a crack in a fine cup that marred its appearance.
In the confrontation, I smashed a fine English tea cup on the floor and told Bob that to restore our trust would be like gluing that cup back together again. He said, "I don't know if I can do that." And I said, "Well, that's how hard it is to build confidence and trust again." The outcome was that Bob spent literally weeks carefully gluing the pieces together until he finished. He learned a very important lesson.
Dr. Rovert H. Schuller, Homemade, Jan 1985.
There is an old story of a father who took his young son out and stood him on the railing of the back porch. He then went down, stood on the lawn, and encouraged the little fellow to jump into his arms. "I'll catch you," the father said confidently. After a lot of coaxing, the little boy finally made the leap. When he did, the father stepped back and let the child fall to the ground. He then picked his son up, dusted him off, and dried his tears.
"Let that be a lesson," he said sternly. "Don't ever trust anyone."Bernie May, Learning to Trust, Multnomah Press, 1985, p. 4.