I hope you all are excited! This is going to be exciting! What’s going on that’s so exciting? Summer break!
What’re you going do over summer break? Think about it for a second. Then, think about this: Why do we like breaks so much? Why do we look forward to them so much? I think we like them so much because we can do what we want to do. But a follow up question: But what if you had to do those things all the time? Wouldn’t you want a break from them? We need a break because there’s so much to do.
Long to-do lists
There’s the daily grind of work: you have to finish projects before their deadlines, you have to do what you can to please your bosses and please your co-workers. There’s sports: you’ve got to train and make it to practices, work with your team, work with your coach, keep up your grades so you can play, and injuries. Maybe you have school and homework: you’ve got to keep up your good grades, or keep your head above water with your okay grades, or you’ve got to fix your bad grades. Maybe you have to deal with unrealistic expectations from either teachers or parents (or both!) all the while you feel like you’re drowning. Besides that, we have daily pressure. Pressure to keep up our image, pressure to impress, pressure to keep everything going and make it look easy.
By the way, it doesn’t get any easier. You might have thought that it got easier, but it doesn’t. I used to think that graduating high school would mean life got easier. But then I had to go to college and do all the assignments and do all the homework and pass my finals and midterms. I had to commute and find a way to pay for college—which meant working (which was hard). Then I thought that graduating college would make things easier. But then you’ve got to deal with your boss and your co-workers and the learning curve of having a job and project deadlines. They say, “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Well, I love what I do but I’ve still worked many days in my life!
- Wherever you go in life there are just too many things that you have to do— and do them well.
- And you won’t be able to do all of them. Things will get missed. You will fail or not do them properly.
- You see, all of the demands of doing and doing well work together to create anxiety.
- So if you find yourself anxious today— if you have this general feeling that you’re drowning, it might be because you’re afraid that you won’t measure up to the long list of demands life has for you.
- Or maybe that’s not what you began reading this article being afraid of (but you’re starting to be).
- Maybe your anxiety is that you look into your future and you can’t imagine it getting better.
- You’re afraid that you’ll never find love. You’re afraid that you’ll never get the job you want. You’ll never find deep, meaningful friendships. You’ll never find approval. You’ll never be truly known.
- Life is going to be a series of disasters, one after another and you’ll die alone.
- You’re afraid of the future and that causes anxiety.
So if that’s you, I want you to hear and believe Jesus’ words to you:
Look at the birds
Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lillies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like on of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown in to the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” Or “What shall we drink?” Or “What shall we wear?” Matthew 6:25-31
Jesus is telling us that we don’t need to be afraid that we won’t have our needs taken care of. He tells us, “look at the birds!” They don’t clock in to get what they need. God feeds them. It’s God that provides for their needs. Which do you think God cares more about: birds or you? He cares more about you: “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31.
So if he takes care of birds like he does, won’t he take more care of you since he loves you more than he loves birds? So don’t be fearful of your future. Trust God that he will take care of your every need— he is a good Father who delights to give his children good gifts and take care of them.
But maybe you’re still in our first category of anxious— the person who’s afraid they won’t measure up to the list of demands. And now you hear another demand: Don’t be anxious! And the very command that says don’t be anxious actually makes you anxious!
In fact, God himself just makes you anxious. You see, you’ve got this general feeling of anxiety about not measuring up. There are so many demands in life and they’re burying you. Then you hear God’s demands that he places on your life:
- Believe, repent, love God, love your neighbor, abide in me, pray, be humble, don’t be angry, serve others, forgive, be merciful, strive to enter the narrow door, (be more righteous than the Pharisees!), love your enemies, love others like Jesus did, don’t lay up treasures for yourself on earth, don’t take oaths, let your light shine before others, make disciples, don’t be anxious, don’t judge, don’t lust, do not be afraid, rejoice when you’re persecuted, and the list could go on.
- It crushes you. In the face of these demands, you can never be sure that you’ll measure up. This is the greatest anxiety: not knowing whether or not you measure up to the demands of God. If that’s you, listen to Jesus’ words to you:
Come to me… and I will give you rest
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29.
- You don’t have to measure up. You can stop your trying. You can stop trying to be perfect so that a holy God will accept you. You don’t have to measure up. Jesus took all of the demands of God and did all of them and did all of them perfectly.
- Because of Jesus’ life and death, God does not look at you based off of how many commandments you do or how well you do them. God does not look at you as though you must measure up and earn his approval.
- God loves you for you— no strings attached. There is nothing that you can do to earn his love. And there is nothing that you can do to separate yourself from his love. You can have peace with God today if you’ll trust him.
But listen: if my check-engine light comes on in my car and my car can’t go past 40 mph. What should I do?
We are human beings. We are physical and spiritual beings. So if I see that my car can’t go past 40 and I’ve got to be doing 70 on the highway, I’m not going to only pray that my car would be able to get up to speed. If this keeps happening, I’m going to take it in to get it looked at by a mechanic! I’m going to find out what can be done about my car.
So, if you are experiencing anxiety I want you to first consider whether or not you are trusting God to provide for you, whether or not you are trying to earn God’s approval or if you’re resting in his love. But I also want you to talk to somebody and get the help that you need. Maybe the cause of your anxiety is primarily spiritual. But maybe there is more going on. Either way, know that you are not alone, that God loves you, and you can talk to anyone of us at NorthRidge without fear of shame or judgment.
“May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”