Needless Worry Comes From Looking Too Far Ahead

 

“No matter what comes your way here on earth, no matter what pain or agony you face, set your worries aside and look heavenward!”[i] —Elizabeth George

 

Today’s Verse: “Who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life?” (Matthew 6:27 AMP)

In the spring of 1871, a young man picked up a book and read twenty-one words that profoundly affected his future. A medical student at the Montreal General Hospital, he was worried about passing the final examination, worried about what to do, where to go, how to start a practice, how to make a living.

The twenty-one words that this young medical student read in 1871 helped him become the most famous physician of his generation. Upon graduation, he organized what became the world-famous Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He became Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford—the highest honor that can be bestowed upon any medical person in the British Empire. He was knighted by the King of England. His life story fills two huge volumes.

His name was Sir William Osler. Those twenty-one words, written by Thomas Carlyle, helped him lead a worry-free life: “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly ahead at a distance, but do what lies clearly at hand.”[ii]

It is said that Martin Luther lived with two days on his calendar—Today and That Day. He wrote, “This day is the day we are currently experiencing, and it is the only moment in time we can truly embrace. That day is the day we will stand face-to-face with our God and give an account of our life, and it is the most important of our existence.”[iii] Luther knew that if he faithfully acted Today, That Day would take care of itself.

Sir William Osler and Martin Luther knew how to end worry. They focused on today. They focused on what was at hand. This focus requires a simple, but not easy, choice to trust God completely. It requires forward action, without seeing, and complete trust in His leading.

During any transition caused by loss, worry can creep into your thinking. You do battle with your thoughts until you realize that all you need to be concerned with is Today. Sometimes you can choose to spend Today reading a good book or studying your Bible. Some days you can go for long walks or just work on projects around the house. In choosing to have this focus, your worrisome thoughts didn’t stop; they just didn’t matter. Your mind becomes clearer as you allow Today and only Today into your view.

INSIGHT: Looking ahead and allowing worry to dictate your life isn’t productive or helpful. It only serves to take your eyes from God and opens the door to doubt and lack of trust.

PRAYER: When worry comes, take your thoughts captive and pray through them. Ask God to help you focus on Today. Thank Him that He’s leading you in new directions and ask Him what is most important for you to do Today, without concern for tomorrow.

LIFE CHOICES:

  • Study and commit to memory Matthew 6:27 and bring it to mind when you struggle with worry.
  • Understand that you need to set aside time for learning. Read God-centered books that inspire and expand your perspective. Commit not only to seeking knowledge but also to keeping God’s truths in your heart.
  • Discover the freedom of changing your calendar or to-do list headings to Today and That Day. Focus only on what God brings to you Today and try to let the promise and eternal hope of That Day determine your attitude and outlook.

 

[i] Elizabeth George, Breaking the Worry Habit Forever!:God’s Plan for Lasting Peace of Mind, (Eugene, OR, Harvest House Publishers, 2009), 12.

[ii] Paraphrased from: Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, (New York: Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1984), 3.

[iii] Susan Pippin, Susan’s Coffee Break: 365 Daily Devotions, (Xulon Press, 2011), 483.

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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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