Porch 2018 Messages
Has anyone been to London ever before? It's a great city. I'm going to tell a story that'll give us some direction for where we're going to head tonight. I got to go with JP to London earlier this year in May. There was a conference for young pastors under 40, and we got to go be a part of it with 75 other people. Basically, we got a free trip to London, which was awesome. It was like, "Hey, we're in."
As we prepared to go over there… As JP has shared before, he has been on a journey where he has had challenges in sleeping, some heart stuff and different things, so at different times he has struggled to sleep. When you travel, that can be exacerbated. In the days preparing for that, this was something… He was like, "Hey, man, just be praying for this."
"Hey, praying for it. I'm going to be your wingman over there. If you can't sleep, I'll hang out with you. We'll go see the sights, London Bridge, whatever you want to do. We'll be together. I'm in it with you, and we'll just hang out if we can't end up sleeping." As he has journeyed through that, he has had all of the different experiments where he has tried anything and everything that could help in that journey of sleeping, from these different teas to essential oils to different relaxation sleep stuff. This is going somewhere.
So, we get on the plane, go to London, get to the hotel. Never been to a hotel in London. Let me tell you something in case you've never been there before. It's about this big, every single one of them. So we're in the room, twin beds right next to each other, like six inches from each other where it's like…fist bump. We're preparing to go to bed. He gets the tackle box of sleep stuff out there, and I'm like, "Hey, man, I'm in it. We're in it together."
We get ready to go to sleep. There's an eight-hour time difference. Anyway, "Hey, see you in the morning. Good night." All of a sudden, all kinds of anxiety hit me. My wife was eight months pregnant at the time, so I was like, "Eight months pregnant? Oh my gosh! She could go into labor anytime. How am I going to get home if I have to get home fast?" So I'm checking flights. "How fast can you get home?" It's not very fast from London. That's not a really quick, "Oh, I'll be there in an hour." It's like, "I'll see you tomorrow, so good luck."
I just get hit with anxiety in this moment, and I can't sleep. Poor JP, who's over there thinking I'm going to be here to support him… He's already snoozing off, and I'm like, "Psst! Hey, JP, are you awake?" He's like, "I am now." I'm like, "Hey, can I try some tea?" So I'm trying the chamomile tea. He's like, "Dude, I've got you covered. You are in the hotel with the right guy." He's getting the essential oils out. We're rubbing them on our… Whatever that even does.
I still can't fall asleep. I go, "I'm just going to go walk around for a little bit." I'm continuing to be plagued with anxiety. I come back in, and he's like, "Dude, I've got you. Let me pull out the big guns." He turns on this recording of some guy who does relaxation techniques where the guy is like, "Relax the pinkie toe. Tighten the pinkie toe. The pinkie toe is falling asleep," and these different breathing exercises. True story. All of that. You can't make this stuff up, people.
I began to listen to it, and eventually I ended up falling asleep. I was just overwhelmed with anxiety. The next day I remember thinking, "Man, what if I can't sleep again tonight?" I was anxious even thinking about going to sleep, and I was just thinking if something was to happen back home… Once you fall into this place of being anxious about not sleeping it makes you not able to sleep in general.
It was this encounter with anxiety that was interrupting this trip…unexpectedly, honestly, as often is the case. It's not one of those things you try to see happen or you even always anticipate happening. It just grabs you out of nowhere, and all of a sudden you're like, "Man, I'm anxious about this." In that scenario it clearly had power over my ability to sleep. The funny and interesting thing about anxiety is, when you think about it, the level of power it has in so many different areas in our lives or can have on our behavior is extraordinary.
How many people because of anxiety over "Do I have enough money? Can I provide for my family? Am I going to make enough to be financially secure?" become workaholics? How many people end up marrying someone who's not God's best or someone who's not in line with the type of person God in the Bible says you should marry? They settle because they're like, "Dude, I'm just worried. This may be the last chance I have."
How many people lie or are dishonest and don't totally tell the truth because they're worried about what someone else thinks about them? Think about the ways anxiety… Some of you guys are not even listening to most of what I'm saying because you're distracted over a worry or an anxiety that is plaguing you right now, maybe from today, maybe in this room, maybe because you're like, "Who's she talking to right now?" Maybe it's affecting you right now.
The power of anxiety is reality and can have tremendous power over our behavior. Think about all of the ways people attempt to find freedom from this anxiety. Some of the reasons people either turn to "Hey, I need a glass of wine" or "I need marijuana" or "I need some sort of medication" is just because "I need some relief from this." Some people will turn to counseling because "I need relief from this."
Some people will turn to… "Every time I get anxious I just have to clear my head, go watch every episode of the new Stranger Things series. I need to go numb myself through binging on Netflix" or "I need to go to the gym. I need to exercise." All of us will try to find different ways to cope with anxiety because we recognize it can have a clear power over our thinking, over our health, over our focus, over our ability to sleep, all kinds of different things.
The further interesting thing is it's one of those things no one wants in their life. No one came into this room tonight and was like, "Hey, I'll surrender everything to you, Lord, except the anxiety. That I'm keeping all to myself, because that's my little pet vice over here, just me and the anxiety." Everyone would be like, "Dude, if it is possible to be free from anxiety I would love to know how."
The good news is I think the Bible has a ton to say about this. Anxiety is not something that's new. Worry is something that has been taking place for thousands of years. In fact, it was happening in Jesus' day and age, and repeatedly in Scripture Jesus and the writers of the New Testament talk about anxiety and a path toward experiencing peace.
So, tonight I want to look with you at some of the principles and truths Jesus lays out in Matthew, chapter 6, that provide an antidote and a solution that the more you and I embrace the more peace will be present in our lives. We're going to look at Jesus' teaching in Matthew 6:24-34. What Jesus is going to lay out are two truths about anxiety and then one solution for experiencing freedom from anxiety.
Tonight's message is Finding Freedom from Anxiety. We're going to start in verse 24 as Jesus launches into the conversation of worry. Jesus is preaching. It's called the Sermon on the Mount. He's giving a sermon, the very first sermon. He goes in.
"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear."
Jesus launches into the conversation of worry and begins to address the things his audience worried about. He brings up something I'm going to come back to later. Essentially, in saying money and what you're going to wear and what you're going to eat he's addressing the things his audience would have been most devoted to or the things they worried about. He addresses the fact that there's a relationship between what you worry about and what you're most devoted to.
The things you worry about reflect "These are the things I'm most committed, most devoted to." Jesus says, "There's a relationship between those two, and I want you to know there is a way to experience freedom from worry. So don't worry." He addresses what his audience would have worried about. To us he would have said whatever [fill in the blank] your anxieties, your worries are.
Then he asked two questions I really want to spend the bulk of this first point discussing with you, and here they are. "Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" Again, he's addressing an agricultural society. Food was a big deal. There was no refrigeration. There were no food trucks, no food camels, no anything like that that would allow them to be like, "Oh, there's food right here." It would be like, "I'm worried if we don't have enough food to eat."
To us he would say, "Isn't life more than getting married? Isn't life more than having enough money in the bank account? Isn't life more than driving the right car? Isn't life more than having the perfect roommate setup? Isn't life more than getting into the right master's program?" Not that those things don't matter and are not important. He would just say, "Whatever your worries are, isn't life more than those things?"
Then the second question in verse 27: "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" In other words, Jesus asked two on-the-face simple but profoundly true questions, just trying to get the whole audience on the same page. "Hey, let's all begin to talk about worry, and let's address a couple of things. Isn't life more than those things, and does worry positively contribute to your life? Is worry helping you or hurting you?" The answer to "Can you add to your life by worrying about something?" is "No." A lot of us have taken life off by worrying about things. His point is simply this:
1._ Worrying is always worthless_. I know on the surface that seems so simple, but Jesus is beginning the conversation about worry, and he's like, "Hey, let's all get on the same page. Worrying never positively contributes to things. It's not helpful." He's beginning to help his audience by asking the question, "Isn't life more than that?" to deflate the power of the things they worry about. That's what he's attempting to do.
What do I mean by that? Anytime you and I worry about something it becomes the thing we're so focused on and distracted by. I can't even focus on the world around me, what's going on, because I'm just anxious over [fill in the blank]: whether or not this relationship is coming to an end, whether or not I'm going to have someone to live with me or I'm going to have to move apartments after my roommate moves out, whether or not after I've bombed that presentation I'm going to get the promotion or what everyone at my work is thinking about me.
Whatever we're worried about can consume so much of our attention. Jesus is saying, "Hey, look. You're worried about things that at the end of the day… Is that really all life is about? You're spending all of your time thinking about them, and time equals life. These things that are not even, at the end of the day, that big of a thing, yet you're spending so much of your life focused on that." He's just trying to pull his audience back from the things they get hyper-focused on.
To his audience he'd be like, "You're so concerned about food. Is that all life is about? If you had all the food in the world and never had to worry about it, is that all you'd ever want?" No. Maybe it's around marriage or singleness, and to you he would say, "Is life marriage? Life equals marriage? Really?" No, of course not. Isn't life more than that? If you think life equals marriage and that's all it is it's because you are not married. Someday you're going to get married, and you'll be like, "Huh, this is great, but there's so much more."
Jesus is saying to his audience, and whatever you worry about he's saying, "Isn't life so much more than this…that thing that's getting all your attention, that thing you're so focused on?" He's trying to deflate the power of their worry. The genius here is that, today, counseling and psychology is still catching up to what Jesus did right here. They do a form of this. If you ever go to counseling around anxiety and go see someone, they'll do a form where they'll attempt to deflate the power of worry.
I'm married to a counselor, so I'm in counseling every single day. It's not working. My wife would say and counselors would say there's a form that takes place where counselors will help you do this today, where they will attempt to help you deflate the power of the worries you experience and help you see them for what they are.
For example, one variation of this… They're essentially doing what Jesus did back then. If you came in and were like, "Man, I'm so anxious I'm going to lose my job," they'll help you chase down what you're worrying about. "Okay. Well, what happens if you lose your job?"
"Well, I guess I'd have to look for another job."
"What happens if you have to look for another job?"
"Well, if I don't find something quickly I'd have to maybe get rid of my lease on my car. I'd have to change it in and get a new car."
"What if you have to get a new car?"
"Well, I'd probably have to get a clunker because I don't have much in savings."
"What if you have to get a clunker?"
"I guess I'd be embarrassed to drive my clunker around and what people are going to think about me."
"Got it. Okay, you're not worried about whether you lose your job; you're worried about what people are going to think about you if you drive a clunker." And just chase it down. "What if I can't sleep tonight?"
"What if you can't sleep tonight?"
"I guess I'm going to be really tired tomorrow."
"What if you're really tired tomorrow?"
"I guess I'm going to be really tired tomorrow."
Truly. I've just saved you guys like $125 an hour. You're welcome. That's just free. Still today psychology is catching up to what Jesus was saying 2,000 years ago. "Hey, guys, let's just all see the things we worry about for what they are. Not that they're not important, but they're certainly not the epitome of what life is all about, despite the fact that they're getting all of your attention and you're spending so much of your life focused on them."
He continues. He further asks the question in verse 27 of, "Hey, does worry add to your life?" Even medical studies have come out and said it's clear worry has a detrimental effect on the human body. Charles Mayo of the Mayo Clinic, if you know what that is, essentially said, "Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, and the entire nervous system. I've never known a man who died of overwork, but I have known a whole lot who have died of worry."
In Jesus' words he's saying, "Worry is never helpful. As we launch into this conversation, let's all get on the same page about that. Worry is worthless." But here's what's interesting. Knowing worry is worthless is kind of worthless. It's like, "Oh yeah." In other words, me being like, "Hey, worry is worthless; stop it," nobody is like, "All right. All of my worries are gone. I'm done. Let's close in prayer right now." No one would say that. "Shut it down."
The good news is Jesus doesn't stop there. He continues and says as followers of Christ, or Christians, you and I don't have to experience worry, and he continues the conversation as he is bringing us to the fact that it is possible to experience freedom from worry. He goes into an illustration. Here's what he says:
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable [to God] than [a bird]? […]And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?"
Sidenote: Jesus points out there's a relationship between the size of your faith and the size of your worry. "O you of little faith." "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans…" A pagan is a person who doesn't have a relationship with God. A pagan is a person who doesn't have a heavenly Father as God. It would be the rest of the world, if you will. "For the pagans run after all these things…" They're focused on and pursuing all of these things. "…and your heavenly Father knows that you need them."
Jesus says that you and I, as Christians, are different. One of the reasons you do not have to worry is because you have a heavenly Father. You're not like the rest of the world who doesn't have anyone watching and looking out for their back. Christians who have a heavenly Father, who are children of God, the Bible teaches, have someone who's caring, who's providing, who's concerned and has promised to look after their needs. He's inviting you. You do not have to worry.
He's not saying, "Don't care." He's not saying, "Don't try." This is not Jesus' version of, "Dude, it's all chill. Just keep it cool." He's not saying, "Don't work hard." Fill out the applications. Follow up. Be diligent. Do all of those things. Work really hard, and then at the end of the day he's saying, "I'm inviting you to sleep well and not worry because you have a heavenly Father who has promised, 'I will provide for your needs.'" Not your wants…your needs.
2._ If you're a Christian, you do not have to worry because God will meet your needs_. God has promised, "I will meet your needs." There's a guy named John Owen who lived a couple of hundred years ago. He was a famous pastor, if you will, and he said worry for a Christian is irrational, because as a Christian you're someone who says, "God, I trust you with all of eternity, with all of my life, all of my sin. I trust you with all of it, God. I just don't trust you with Thursday."
That's irrational. It doesn't make sense. It's a human experience that grabs all of us, but it is an irrational thing. "I trust you with it all, just not tomorrow and not this. This I'm afraid you're going to mess up or this may be too big for you to handle." It is irrational because they believe their heavenly Father is a provider who has promised to meet the needs they have.
Jesus says four times in this passage, "Do not worry. Hey, you don't have to worry. Don't worry. Don't worry." Do you know what the most repeated command in all of the Bible is? "Do not fear. Don't be afraid. Don't worry. Fear not." More than, "Don't get drunk." More than, "Don't sleep around." More than, "Don't get angry and hit people." More than any of those things. "Do not fear." Three hundred sixty-six times: "Do not fear." Think about that.
That is one for every single day of the year, including leap year. It is as though God is very clearly trying to communicate a message: "I do not want my people to live in fear. They're going to face uncertainty. Life is not always going to go the way they want it to. Life is hard, and in this world they will have trouble, but I am inviting them to a life where they can face future uncertainty and not be afraid because they know their heavenly Father is working to provide for their needs."
Not their wants every time, but he has promised, "I love you. I am for you. You do not have to worry. I will provide for you. I have your back." Don't let anxiety push you into the same self-centered "I'm concerned about getting more for me, me, me" that the rest of the world (that's pagans) are running after, because you have a heavenly Father who said, "I've got you. I will provide."
By saying, "Do not worry" he's implying, "I've got you." If he's not, he's not a good God. What do I mean? If he's saying, "Hey, don't worry, but I don't have you covered," he would not be a good heavenly Father. You wouldn't say someone is a good friend if they did that to you. Like if we tonight were going to dinner afterward. We're leaving. "Oh yeah, we're going to Mattito's. Great." We're walking out, and you're like, "Oh man, I forgot my wallet." I'm like, "Hey, don't worry about it."
We go to Mattito's. We get there, we're eating food, and the bill comes up. The waiter is like, "One check or two checks?" "Two checks." You would look at me like, "You said, 'Don't worry.'" If I said, "You thought I was going to pay for you? No, I didn't mean I was going to pay for you. I just didn't want you to be distracted and discouraged while we were eating the meal right here. Have fun washing dishes," you wouldn't be like, "You're a great friend." You'd say, "What is wrong with you? You're a terrible friend."
What kind of God says, "Hey, don't worry" and then says, "But you're on your own"? Does that make any sense? He's clearly saying, "I've got you. I'm promising to provide for your needs." No one would say there's such a thing as a good father or a good mother who can meet the needs of their children and doesn't. No one would say that's a good parent. Think about the lengths parents go to to provide for the needs of their children.
Any dog moms in the room here? Any dog dads? There are more dog dads in here. I'm concerned. This is a new thing, I think. Let me address this for a second. The dog mom phenomenon feels new. Here's what I mean by "dog mom." I don't just mean you have a dog; I mean you see this dog as your child. You had a Halloween costume for them. Every time you go into the grocery store you're like, "Oh my gosh. I get to get a new toy for Fido." You see this dog as your child.
There's a girl on our team… The lengths she goes, like, "Here's a sweater." I don't want to call names. (Emily.) She gives her dogs middle names. If you are giving your dogs middle names there is something wrong, and you are dismissed. No. The lengths she will go to to provide for her dogs… Let me ask you a question. Do you think she loves her dogs more than God loves you? Do you think that whatever dog mom you know, the best in the world, has a greater amount of love for her dog than God has for you? Of course not.
He has already proven it. The lengths he'll go to to provide for your needs, including your ultimate need, include giving the life of his only Son, dying in your place. There is no greater amount of love someone could have. There is no even ability for us to comprehend the love God has for us, the Bible says. It's literally something you have to pray, "God, will you help me to comprehend more of it because you're a God who loves me so much I cannot on my own comprehend it?" That's Ephesians, chapter 3.
If we're honest, most of us often fail to believe that, struggle to believe, "God, you love me more than any human love I've ever seen expressed toward a child, toward a dog." The God who's there says, "I've got you. I promise I will provide for you." Let me clarify. Again, it is not "I will provide for all of your wants." He promises, "I will provide for your needs." You may think you know what you need. God actually knows what you need, and he promises, "I will provide for your needs. I've got you."
It's clear, even if you just look back in your own life. If you're anything like me… I'm not always the best determiner of "Hey, I really want this, God. This would be great. Would you please give it to me?" and then years later I look back and I'm like, "Oh my gosh! I'm so thankful you did not give her to me" or "that job to me" or "that school." Think about it. Think about the people in your past…boyfriend, girlfriend, relationships you had, a college you were just begging God, "Please let me get into" and he didn't answer that prayer.
You look back and you're like, "Man, I'm so thankful that ended up not being the way it went." We're not great at determining what we want or what is even best for us and not great at determining what we need, but the God who's there says, "I know what you need, and I promise I will provide it, like I provided by sending my Son to die on a cross. I've got you. You do not have to live like the rest of the world."
So, Jesus says worry is worthless and worry is irrational for Christians because we have a heavenly Father who has promised, "I will provide for your needs," a heavenly Father who's in control, who loves you, and is working for your good. As has been said many times, we do not know what tomorrow holds as Christians, but we are the only people in the world who know the one who holds tomorrow. Christians do not know what tomorrow has for you, for me, for any of us, but we're the only people on this planet who know the one who holds tomorrow and every tomorrow after it, and he said, "I've got you. You can trust me. I've got you."
Then Jesus goes into what I think is one of the most profound truths that, I believe, if you begin to practice and put into practice you'll experience increasing freedom from anxiety inside of your life. He lays out a verse that, candidly, I think some of you, if you were raised in church, have heard so many times, and you've never paused to think about what Jesus is actually saying here. It's a verse you're like, "Oh yeah. Heard that one before," but if you pause and look at it, there's an incredible principle and antidote to the anxiety that exists in a lot of our lives.
Here's what he says: "But seek first…""I don't want you to have to worry. You don't have to worry. Heavenly Father loves you. He will provide. Here's what you need to do: seek." That same word seek is translated desire first or prioritize first, embrace as the very first thing. Put on the throne of your life, if you will. This is the first thing.
"… [God's] kingdom…" That's a weird word there. What does that mean? Heaven? What do you mean by that? The word kingdom all throughout the Bible is essentially God's reign, God's rule, God's will. Prioritize first, place as first in your world, in your life, God's agenda for you. "…and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Take a day at a time.
3._ You will relieve your worries by replacing your agenda for God's agenda_. What is he saying? Jesus says, "I want you to desire first, place as first on the heart and throne of your life God's kingdom, God's agenda for your life, God's will for you, both his revealed will in the Bible and his revealing will as it unfolds in front of you and his sovereign plan unfolds in front of your life. Embrace first God's agenda for your life." In other words, Jesus says, "Don't let there be any competition for whose agenda is in first place, yours or God's."
All of us came in this room with agendas for our lives. You have one. I have one for my life. It doesn't involve cancer. It doesn't involve losing a child. It doesn't involve being single for years and years and years. I have an agenda for my life. I have a will I want to see happen. Jesus says place as first in your life God's agenda above your own. Prioritize first God's agenda above your own and you will begin to experience peace.
Here's why this is so relevant. Think about it. Remember we talked about devotion? He's saying be most devoted to God's will for your life, God's agenda, not yours, and you'll experience peace, because what you are most devoted to determines what you worry about. Be most devoted to that. What does that mean? Think about your worries. Here's what I know about my worries. I'll talk about me. I worry about my wants, about my agenda.
I'm not worried that God is going to mess up his plan. I'm not like, "God, you're out there, and I just think you may have made a mistake yesterday." I'm worried he's going to get it wrong by my standard, not by God's. I worry about my wants. I worry about getting my agenda fulfilled. He says, "Look. I want you to place as first importance or embrace first not your desire for your life, David, but God's plan and God's agenda for your life."
Essentially, my worries are like, "I'm not going to get everything I want." That's what I worry about. I'm worried about, "I'm not going to get everything I want." Which is crazy. And you worry about you not getting the things you want. It's crazy, I say, because the reality for all of us is we're not going to get what we want all of the time, every time, for the rest of our lives. It just is not going to happen. It hasn't happened already unless you're 30 seconds old. You're not going to get everything you want.
So, we worry about not getting everything we want. You're not going to get everything you want, so here's what you can have. You can either have not everything you want in life and worry or not everything you want in life and peace. You're going to not get everything you want both ways. That's just true. You came here tonight. You're going to leave. Sorry. Hate to burst the bubble, but you're not always going to get everything you want in life.
Jesus says you can either have worry or peace. "God, things are not going the way I wanted them to. I trust you. God, things are not going the way I saw them going as it relates to my dating life and lack thereof, but I trust you, and I'm trying to trust you more. Will you help me?" He asks, "Will you begin to place as first on the throne God's agenda as it sovereignly unfolds before you?" "God, I trust you."
In case you're still not following me, he brings up something he mentioned 20 verses earlier. Twenty verses earlier he alludes to this same idea when he says, "This is how you should pray." You guys probably remember this, if you grew up in church, on the Lord's Prayer. "Hey, let me teach you guys how to pray. Do you want to know how to pray?" He brings up the very idea we're talking about.
When you pray, you say, "Our Father in heaven, holy, or hallowed, is your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." What does he mean by earth? That means "In my world, on the dirt I walk in, in my life, your will, your kingdom come, your agenda for my life before my own, your will be done in my earth, on the dirt I live and walk on. I'm embracing that as the first thing and the first priority, and I'm asking you to bring it about in my life."
Jesus illustrates this exact idea about what it looks like. You begin to experience peace by just saying, "God, you know how badly I need this job, and I don't know what I'm going to do if I can't afford to make rent. Will you please help me to get this job? If you don't, if your will is something else, I trust you. Your kingdom, your agenda before my own. This would be on my agenda. Let's make no mistake. Let me be abundantly clear, but if that's not on your agenda I trust you."
Jesus models this exact idea in the only moment in Scripture we're told that Jesus was overwhelmed looking at future events. There's only one time, and it's in the garden of Gethsemane where he's hours away from being crucified. We're told he was overwhelmed with sorrow as he looked at the future. In that moment he expressed exactly what we're saying. "God, let this not happen, but not as I will but you will."
It says in Mark 14:34-36, "Going a little farther, [Jesus] fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.'" Or, "Don't make it so I have to go die on a cross." "Yet not what I will, but what you will.""I'm placing above my own desires your will for my life, God." If you will begin to practice that, you're going to experience peace on the big things in your world, in your life.
"God, my mom just got diagnosed with cancer. I'm overwhelmed. What's going to happen, Lord? Will you please not allow her to have anything other than a fully healthy and fully restored body? But if that's not the story you're writing, I trust you." What other option do you have? I guess worry. You're not going to thwart the plan of God.
Again, it's like one of those things… Even this idea of being like, "God, you know how desperately I want to have children, and I'm afraid that maybe that's not going to be in the cards for me. God, I can't even imagine that being the case, so I'm struggling to trust you, but, God, if that's your will, I trust you. Will you help me trust you more? I trust you."
The idea of even what I'm saying is hard, because just like what I mentioned earlier, it feels like we're giving up control, like I'm giving God control back. News flash. You don't have control, and neither do I. So you're not giving anything up. You're either going to have no control and peace or no control and worry. You're going to have no control either way. You get to choose which one. Jesus is saying, "I'm inviting you to have peace in your experience."
People even use the phrase like, "Hey, I struggle with control." That is like saying, "Hey, I struggle with x-ray vision." That is a myth. You have never had control. You will never have control. There's only one person who has control. That's God. That's like me saying, "I really struggle with sovereignty." That is a myth. God who's there is saying, "You have no control. You never will. I have control, and I love you. I'm for you." You can either have no control and worry or no control and peace. You decide.
I had a friend who was recently going through… He had started his own business, and through some accounting errors with his accountant he owed the IRS a ton of money. He was overwhelmed with "Man, I'm afraid I'm going to lose my house. I'm going to lose my job. I'm going to lose my company." He was overwhelmed with anxiety, and he began to pray this prayer.
"God, I don't want to lose my house. I don't want to lose my job. I don't want to lose all that I own, but if that's what you're doing and that's what you want, I trust you. I don't understand why that would be what you want, but if that's what you want I know you love me. You proved it by dying in my place. I trust you, and I'm trying to trust you more. Please don't let that happen, but I trust you. I'm not going to thwart your plan, but I can experience peace."
The God who's there is inviting you… On the small stuff. We all get anxious about the most petty things, like I just broke up with my girlfriend and I think she's going on other dates with a guy, and I'm like, "Oh my gosh! I can't believe she's going on other dates with a guy. That's unbelievable. What if they end up getting married? I thought she was the one for me." We can all get distracted and overwhelmed, and just practicing like, "God, if that's your will, I trust you. I trust you."
I don't know what's going on in your world and in your life right now. Across the board, we could go every single person in here, and today anxiety attempted to grab ahold of you. The God who's there is saying that if you will begin to replace your agenda with God's agenda you'll experience peace.
The apostle Paul, years later, would pick up on Jesus' exact teaching, where he would say, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation [no matter what you're facing] , by prayer and petition…" Which is ask God. It's saying the same thing. "…with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
That's the third time he says the same thing in different words. "Pray. Talk to God. Petition. Tell God what you need. Present your requests to God. Tell God what you need." He's very repetitive. "When you're anxious, here's what I want you to do: talk to God." "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Do you know what he's implying there? The only way you're going to have peace when you tell God that stuff, when you bring your requests to God, is if you believe God is in control and is working for your good. You're not going to have peace any other way. The verse clearly and Paul clearly is saying, "Hey, when you're overwhelmed, pray. Tell God, 'This is why I'm overwhelmed. This is what's going on. God, will you please change this? If not, I trust you.' You will experience peace."
You can wake up tomorrow, and if you begin to do that… Some of you need to do this tonight. You need to do it right now. You need to verbalize it. There is something powerful about when you speak the words, "God, I trust you." It does something to your heart. So you may need to leave after this is over and go find a place by yourself just in your car. "God, you know how badly I want [whatever]. God, you know how scared I am about [whatever]." You fill in the blank.
"Please don't allow that to happen, but, God, if it does, I trust you. Will you help me trust you more?" There is power even in verbalizing the words, "God, I trust you. I'm struggling to trust you, but I trust you. Will you help me trust you more?" You will begin to experience peace as you face uncertainty.
Over the past year, this has become so real to me. Last fall we discovered we were pregnant. We were going to have another child, and we were so excited. Then in early December, about 10 weeks in, after we had already done a test around the baby and discovering that, we get a phone call at 9:30 on a Wednesday night, and it was the doctor who said, "Hey, I need to talk to you and your husband.
The test results came back. We're so excited. You're having a baby girl, but it also came back and there's a decent chance she's going to have a chromosomal disorder, and there's a 90 percent chance she'll die before she ever gets born. If she is born and she has this, then she will have an immediate heart transplant and heart surgery right there, and she'll live the rest of her life with severe complications. She'll never have the ability to have children herself. She'll have physical implications because of this defect, and she'll require medical attention the rest of her life."
It was like a bomb went off. I know most of you guys don't have kids, and someday you will and it's going to be awesome. It's the greatest thing ever, but in that moment it's like a bomb. We've all seen the scenes in the movies where your ears are ringing and everything is going in slow motion and you're just trying to grab your thoughts. That led us on a nine-month journey. We wouldn't know, she told us. Every day it gets a little bit better. If she survives, that's a great thing.
For the next nine months… It would be nine because we wouldn't know until she was here. It just drove us to embrace this like I've never embraced it. This wasn't some preaching thing and "You have to do this." It was, "God, this is life. We don't want our daughter to die. Will you spare our baby girl? And if that's not what you want, I don't understand why, but I trust you, and I'm trying to trust you. Will you allow her to be a healthy girl?"
All of a sudden… You can imagine. If you're in ministry you're like, "How am I going to afford all of the different medical attention for the rest of…? God, I'm in ministry. If that is your will, God, I'm not going to stop it. I trust you. What other option do I have? Help me to trust you more." Everything came into focus. We prayed our prayers and cried a lot of tears and prayed a lot more.
I wish I could say every moment in those nine months was one where we just said, "God, we trust you." I can't. I don't even know that I can say a majority of our lives was filled with moments of "I trust you," but I can say this: every moment with peace was. Every moment where we experienced peace was one where we said, "God, we trust you. Your agenda comes before our own. I don't understand why you would do that, but if that's your will, your will be done. I trust you."
On June 29 our daughter was born, and she was healthy. I think God was growing my faith. I think he was going, "Hey, David, do you trust me?" I hope I would have said, "Yes" had things not gone the way they did. I'm not foolish enough to stand up here and be like, "And I would have," but I do know if I'm going to experience peace it's going to come by just opening up my hands. They're already open. Let's be honest. We're trying to grab for something that's not ours, and he's saying, "Will you trust me?" If you do, you'll experience peace.
I don't know what you're walking through in this room, but I know the God who's there loves you. He will provide for you. He has promised to meet your needs, and he is working for your good. He is your heavenly Father, and he's inviting you. Will you trust him? I want to pray, and I want to invite you to do something. If you guys will bow, we're going to just close our eyes and pray.
If you are in the room right now and are walking through something where you are anxious… It could be something big. It could be something small. It could be anything and everything in between, but you know there's something gripping at your heart. I'd love to pray for you. If you'll raise your hand right now, I'm just going to pray for all of those who decide, "I'm willing to raise my hand, God. If that's true, if there's peace to be had, God, I'm inviting you. Let that peace that transcends all understanding come and guard my heart and my mind." I just want to pray for you.
Father, I pray for the hands that are raised right here and the stories you're writing that we don't understand. We look at the circumstances of our lives and just confess to you, Lord, we need your help. We want to trust you. We don't like everything about the circumstances represented in our lives, but we are choosing to trust you, and we want to choose to trust you.
I pray for my friends whose hands were just raised or are raised right now, that you, the God of all peace, would raise their awareness of you in their life, their awareness that you're working for their good, that you haven't forgotten them, that you've promised to provide for them, that you're crazy about them, that you are in control. I pray you would be more real than the fear.
In this moment right now, in the moments as they leave here, would you eclipse any of the fear, of the sadness, of the circumstances in their lives and be bigger than those things? I don't even fully know how to best ask for that, but I pray that you and your Spirit would just flood their hearts and minds with peace and you would guard their minds and hearts with peace that only comes from you, the Prince of Peace.
Father, for friends who need to leave and tonight need to verbalize, "God, I trust you. Will you help me trust you?" and will you pour down favor on my friends in their workplaces, in the relationships they have, in all that they do? Would they honor you and above everything trust you no matter the circumstances we face? We love you. We worship you in song, amen.