Y'all, on Sunday, we got deep in my Bible study class. Like, deeepp. And, I needed it oh-so-badly.
A few months ago, we started a video series called Philippians by Matt Chandler. The sessions are meant to lead small group Bible studies, but they really work perfectly for our little class. I've enjoyed every session that I've heard, but there was something very different about Sunday's message. It spoke directly to my heart -- you know the kind, right? Those messages that hit so hard you're looking around to see if anyone else is as uncomfortable as you?
I don't know about y'all, but I worry. I mean, worry about everything. Everything. I get it from my mama, who got it from her mama, and who knows how many generations back. Most of the time, my worries are not about things going on in my life. I worry far more about the potential for things to go wrong in my life. I can vividly remember sitting in my room as a kid and bawling my eyes out because my mom was heading to Walmart, and I was terrified that something might happen to her before she could make it back home. Irrational? Yes. But, it was so very real to me. Even though I'm not always that melodramatic, that kind of stuff literally crosses my mind every day.
It's sobering to think that every morning, we wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, head to work, and really never know if we'll make it home that evening. And, trust me, I know that God is sovereign, and I know that He has got it all figured out. But sometimes, it's just so very easy to forget.
Which brings me to our Sunday School lesson. It hit home, y'all. The lesson was about what it really means to "Rejoice in the Lord always" (Philippians 4:4).
Matt Chandler -- can I call him Matt?? I think I will. Matt brought up the point that so many times Christians will take this verse, throw it around, and use it in "kitchy" songs, as a way to proclaim that we are always happy, always joyous, always rejoicing. And, the truth is, that just isn't reality. We were never intended to be emotionless robots, unfeeling and unaffected. We hurt and we fear and we worry, and all of those things are okay.
In the session, he told a story about when his son had to be rushed to the hospital by ambulance after his wife found him seizing in his crib upstairs. There was only enough room for one extra in the ambulance - a spot that his wife took - and he was left to follow behind. Only he got lost, without any idea which hospital they were headed to. At that moment, rejoice was something very foreign to him. Does God really think that believers will lift their hands in praise to rejoice over a situation like that? No, of course not. But we are called to "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" So what does it mean to truly rejoice?
According to Matt, to rejoice in a terrifying situation is simply to relinquish control and trust that God is who He says He is. That trust is not the absence of fear, or hesitation, or hurt, or pleading questions. It's just trust - and it's a high form of praise.
He went on talk to about how God not only is fully aware of everything that ever has been, is now, and will be on a gigantic, macro level, but He is also fully cognizant of every finite detail of our lives at the micro level. When something scary or tragic happens, He is never surprised. We cannot catch Him off guard. This was such a poignant reminder to me that my constant anxiety is futile. God has already worked out every detail of my life and the lives of my loved ones and friends. I cannot add a nano-second to anyone's life by worrying about their safety and protection.
This year, one thing I'm working really hard on is my negative thinking. I don't want to only guard the words that come out of my mouth -- I also want to work on the thoughts that stay in my head. This totally includes my issues with anxiety about the safety of my loved ones. I also want to reflect this definition of rejoice and trust. It's a process, and I'm no overnight success. Yesterday, as those storms rolled through the southeast, I caught myself running through about a thousand scary scenarios. But, I'm working on it, and I could really use your prayer.
On a lighter note...Happy Thursday! It is so very close to Friday and the weekend!!