Practice makes perfect. This pithy phrase is often applied to areas such as sports or music. The more you practice, the better you get. I however, have found that this also applies to my ability to worry. I began practicing worrying at an early age. As a kid I would worry about having to go to the dentist or a school assignment. As I got older I expanded my worrying skills into other fields such as dating or questions about where I would go to college. All of this practice paid off by the time I became an adult. I had become so good through all of my practice that I was now able to worry about other people such as my wife and kids! Practice truly does make perfect.
But, the one thing I have become really good at I am repeatedly told in Scripture not to do. In Luke 12 Jesus tells us very plainly, “do not worry.” He then provides several compelling reasons for us to obey this command. We are reminded that life is more than just the physical stuff we often fret over (verse 23). If God cares for the birds and the flowers of the field, how much more does He care for us (verses 24,27,28)? When we worry, we essentially act more like an unbeliever than a child of God (verses 29,30). God is a loving and caring Father who knows our needs and does not have to be forced or cajoled into providing for the needs of His children (verses 30,32).
In Luke 12 Jesus also provides us with an alternative to worry. He tells us to seek His kingdom first and trust Him to take care of all of the needs we have in life. Jesus is telling us to take the attention off of ourselves and put it on God. Focus on following and obeying God and His calling in our lives and trust that He will provide what we need.
Now all of this sounds good. And maybe even simple. But I have found that it is not. Why? Because as I mentioned before I am a professional worrier. I have spent years practicing how to worry and I have become really good at it. The “muscle memory” of my spiritual life is to worry. And so, I must recognize that to do what Jesus calls me to do will not be easy. It is going to be a fight. But it is worth it. After all, Jesus even says that worrying does us absolutely no good (verse 25).
And so, I must begin to unlearn what I have learned. I must begin to practice not worrying, seeking the Kingdom of God, and trusting God to care for my needs. This will be especially hard at first as it is with any new skill. The temptation to go back to the familiar is great. But I must follow the commands seen throughout Scripture to cast my anxieties on the Lord (1 Peter 5). Be anxious for nothing, but instead pray (Philippians 4). I must not allow my feelings to dictate what I believe. Instead I must preach to my feelings and bring them into conformity with what is true (Psalm 42).
All of this is only possible by the grace and power that God provides. As a result my prayer must be for God to provide the grace and power to do what He calls me to do.
In the end there is a great result that awaits those who begin to follow Jesus’ command to not worry. Trust. When we remove worry we make room for trust. Trust in God and in His promises then paves the way for obedience. The ability to obey the radical commands He gives to us that lead to a life full of joy and satisfaction in Him.
So, what are you worried about? Maybe it is time to learn a new skill and begin practicing a faith that trusts God, focuses on Him, and lives in obedience.