I was recently given a gift from my children. They gave me a subscription to Ancestry-dot-com. I have always had a fascination…ok…obsession….with history. When I drive down roads that are filled with 100 plus year old homes I wonder what the windows and walls have seen? I wonder what people were like 100 years ago? I can’t help it. I’m kind of a nerd.
I have always wanted to learn more about my own family heritage. My moms grandparents come from the Netherlands and Sweden and my dad came to America from Cuba. I do not have very deep American roots. My mom knows very little about her immigrant grandparents so I have always longed to learn more.
Needless to say, I’m obsessed with Ancestry – dot – com. I get on it and I literally lose all track of time, like… it’s now 1 a.m. and I have to force myself to put it away…kind of losing track of time. I won’t allow myself to go on the website until after 6 p.m. because once I’m on I have little to no self control. Seriously. I’ve never known something that has captivated me quite like this and I’m obsessed.
It’s a little unnerving to experience something that unleashes my lack of self control. As much as I’ve loved hunting online for clues to my mysterious heritage, I’m surprised by how this experience can sweep me away and overtake all of my mind and time. I guess that’s what obsession is; something that has the power to control you, even if it’s momentary.
Recently I was reading my Bible, (Matthew 6:25-34 to be exact), Jesus was talking to His friends about worry. Worry happens to everyone but He talked about worry in a way that made me intrigued. He says worrying doesn’t do anything for us, it can’t help or change things. Worry can entrap us. In subtle ways it can become the focus of our thoughts, it can cause us to try to manipulate others to comply with our needs so we don’t have to worry.
- Worry can rob us from being present with the people in the room.
- Worry can rob us from being peaceful and productive.
- Worry can erode our physical health.
Worry, if left unchecked, can become obsessive.
Jesus speaks to His friends and says that worry needs to transition from obsession to faith. I love it that Jesus gives a direction to take, He does not give judgement. He is not the voice that says, Shame on you for worrying. It shows you don’t trust me, what’ s wrong with you? No. Instead He extends grace and help in His teaching. He speaks to His friends as if they were children waiting for an explanation for something that would bring them comfort and insight.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sew or reap or store away food in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they? ~ Matthew 6:26
Jesus remedy for obsessive worry is the character of God and the love He has for us. Fears of future needs and problems are real. Worry for the well-being of our loved ones and ourselves are real. God’s trustworthy character and unfailing love is able to hold us steady in the unknowns of life.
My obsession with Ancestry-dot-com has revealed a significant part of me, I am capable of being swallowed whole by something. We can be swallowed whole with worry.
One night I was deep in my ancestry search. For reasons I don’t know I looked over at my daughter. She was looking at me with a look on her face that read, Mom, do you even know I’m here? You’ve been on that thing for hours and you’ve not as much as glanced my way. Ouch! I was busted. I had been online for way too long. My daughters gaze was an invitation. Although I felt a bit guilty the non-verbal exchange was an opportunity to step away from the thing that was holding me hostage.
Jesus invites us to a way beyond worrying. He said,
…your heavenly Father knows you need them [food, clothes etc.]. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well. ~ Matthew 6:32-33
He invites us to step out of worry and into the knowledge that God knows and cares about what we need. He goes beyond caring and offers us the opportunity to live with confidence that He will care for us, to live with peace and assurance that we are loved by Him, to live with the strength of conviction that we are able to follow His ways and not be tossed about by the floods of worry. This is what is meant by seeking His kingdom and righteousness. We step under His authority and rule. Although sometimes we can’t see how, when and where help will come from we live with confidence that it will come because God is unfailing.
May we continue to hear the invitation of Jesus. May we practice more and more, coming out of worry and into faith that God knows our need and will care for us because He loves us. May we experience more joy and peace because of this.