Sowing and Reaping Articles

Life Matters: Part 2

The group had just completed a tour of the Gardens. While the last few were gathering in the study of the Sower, there was a consensus in their comments. “I have never seen such beautiful flowers or shrubs,” said one. Another exclaimed “The waterfalls and fountains were stunning” and “The colors were breathtaking. This must be the best kept secret in Georgia” added a distinguished gentleman with sparkling eyes. “I have never felt so worry-free and peaceful” chimed an elderly lady supporting herself with a cane while gracefully easing into a chair.

For some reason, my mind recalled the events that occurred in another garden. The one written about in Genesis. God Himself designed and created that one. It must have been indescribably glorious, crafted to perfection. Flowers that would bloom endlessly. Leaves that would shimmer in the sunlight never falling to the ground to decay. Fruit and vegetables that would not spoil or lose their flavor. No destructive insects or pests. Animals, birds and snakes that were friendly and playful. I wondered what Adam and Eve thought as they viewed their surroundings. Surely they must have stood in awe and were overwhelmed at what they were given by God.

And there was only one condition. Eat and enjoy everything. Eat until you are filled. Rest and sleep when you desire – so you will be refreshed to enjoy my gifts to you. However, you must not eat from the tree in the middle of the garden.

Unfortunately, we know what happened, and the consequences of their choice. They ate of the fruit of that tree and became afraid and threatened, and finally hid, not knowing what to expect. And from that day until now, feelings of anxiety and dread seem to be one of the most common emotions experienced by humans. The “not knowing of what may or may not happen” is something that rips all of us some of the time, and many of us more than we would like to admit.

There are many sources of anxiety – some well-founded, others imagined. Consider the following. They may arise from times when a promise was broken, a trust betrayed, a commitment violated, an unforeseen event that invades our life, the loss of a loved one, termination from a job when most of your life has been invested in it. A child born deformed or one who develops autism, facing a chronic illness, an accident that leaves one a cripple, lifetime investments lost, a marriage that ends in divorce. These are real. They touch our lives. They cause anxiety and dread causing sleepless nights and troubled days. But they let us know that we are reacting to uncertainty, a threat to our safety, security or stability because we do not know what the final outcome will be or when it will end. Therefore – anxiety. 

Sometime ago I read a statement that makes sense: “If things were to be different, they would be because God is in control.” While I know it make sense and believe it with all my heart, at times it is not much comfort. When I was diagnosed with cancer someone said to me that “God is trying to teach you something or he’s building your character.” “Thank you but I’m relatively well-educated and have been working on my character without cancer and doing quite well” I thought to myself.

So what to do? I remember one person who said “Once when I was feeling threatened, I did not know what to do. So, I closed my eyes, opened my Bible and pointed my finger. Sadly, my finger ended up in the margin, and that was no help at all.” Perhaps, you may have heard where that tactic may have helped someone. But there are better and more certain ways of calming our anxieties. Here are a few.

Live in a context where you will receive encouragement and nourishment from Christians – the Church. Regular attendance at worship services and Sunday school, participating in Bible studies and singing praises will develop an inner resource for facing anxiety. There is no substitute for meeting regularly with other believers.

It is also most important to read and meditate on God’s word every day, followed by a time of prayer. Unless this is a regularly scheduled event that one commits to, and other events are planned around it, it will not happen. Remember it’s never about time – it’s about priorities. 

Memorize scripture that assures the presence and peace of God. In fact, there are more than three hundred Biblical passages that tell us not to fear. Certainly our minds should be centered and focused upon spiritual realities. If we seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first, we have a guarantee that our needs will be met. Jesus said “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:32, 33 NLT

I have also discovered that whenever I have a hard time trusting God completely, there is a problem in my relationship with God or some person. It may be guilt, the need for me to make amends for a wrong I’ve committed, my lack of service to those in need, or the fact that I’ve become arrogant and self-reliant and God is trying to get my attention by creating tension in my life. So, I need to begin to examine my behavior in the light of His word.

Here are some verses to memorize:

“Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares what happens to you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NLT