For my fifth birthday my grandpa took me out and got me a puppy.
Without asking my parents first.
But that’s another story.
Bringing home that wiggly little bundle of red fur was so exciting. He was a Vizsla, we named him Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors; we called him Joe.
After the newness wore off, I became less interested in Joe. Then my dad began training him to be a bird hunting dog.
Interest was piqued again.
A bird wing was attached to a fishing pole, then swung out into a field for Joe to find. He needed to learn basic commands: Sit, Stay, Come, Fetch,
That one was important, because what good was a hunting dog who didn’t know to let go of the bird once he’d found it?
Chucking a tennis ball as far as my little arm could send it, Joe would sit, quivering, until he heard: Fetch! Then, a streak of red flew across the field, resulting in an excited dog dropping a slobbery prize at my feet.
If in a silly mood, Joe would worry the ball and dodge my attempts to get it from him. In those moments the only way to get the ball back was to say: Release.
A simple command, one Joe had learned to obey no matter how much he didn’t want to.
Don’t fret or worry.
This is not a suggestion. This is not some self-help plan for a less stressful life.
This is a command.
Do. Not. Worry.
Look at the phrases normally associated with worry:
It made me anxious.
I was gripped by fear.
It caused me to fret.
I grew afraid.
All of these are predatory; implying there is no choice but to be consumed by worry.
Scripture tells us differently:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6, emphasis mine
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31, emphasis mine
What’s the choice then? What can we do instead of worry?
Instead of worrying, pray.
What does Paul say to the Philippians:
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6b, emphasis mine
Prayer. Supplication with thanksgiving.
When my kids need help, they don’t sit in their rooms and fret about it. Instead, a request is made:
“Mom! Dad! I need help!”
We need to become like children again (hmm…sounds familiar) and remember to ask our Daddy for help. And then say thank you.
When you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about finances. Pray.
In those times when a friend or family member is ill. Pray.
During a difficult season of your marriage. Pray.
As your child is heading out on their own for the first time. Pray.
How often has someone exhausted all their resources and then said, “Now all we can do is pray.”
Wrong. Always all we can do is pray.
Joe learned to refuse his natural instinct at the command of his master.
It’s time for us to do the same.