The Birds of the Air

Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoor Shots, © 2019 Mark Kephart Sr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” –Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

 It was literally the birds of the air that caught my attention one morning during my quiet time.

The morning temperatures were still warm enough to sit out on the back deck and absorb the peacefulness of the woods behind my house. I’d not slept well the night before, my mind whirring with worries.

I know—Christians aren’t supposed to worry, right? But life slams Christians, too. What makes it different for us is how we respond to it.

And I wasn’t responding very well. Not as well as I thought I would. It’s easy to spout Scripture when things are going relatively smoothly. But when the storms come, the winds tear at your faith, and the waves crash over your resolve to stand firm, it’s all you can do to hang on.

Scripture tells us to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and He’ll sustain us (Psalm 55:22). It’s one thing to read those words; it’s another story entirely to do them.

Now, I’m good at casting. The problem is I keep reeling the burden back in. And casting it out again. And reeling it back in.

That night I cast my burden on the Lord by presenting Him with the whole list of what was worrying me. I claimed Philippians 4:19—that God will supply all that I needed. And, in keeping with Luke 11:9, I asked. I sought. I knocked.

Now if only I could leave the response to Him.

But no. I awoke the next morning with the burden still heavy on my mind, heart, and spirit.

The little gray bird flitting from limb to limb caught my eye first. Then the robin, worm still in its beak.

“Look at the birds of the air,” I heard God say. “They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  (Matthew 6:26)

I looked up the Scripture—Matthew 6:25–34. Three times Jesus said, “Do not worry.”

And I remembered Philippians 4:6—“Don’t be anxious or worried about anything.”

I did the second part of that verse—“pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” But peace still eluded me. Because I kept reeling those worries back in again and again.

“Worry is like a rocking chair,” motivational speaker Glenn Turner noted. “It gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere.”

I’m not good at sitting and waiting for God to work. I have to be doing something—anything but be still.

“I have come, that they might have life,” Jesus said, “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10). Abundant life.

And worry compromises that abundant life by siphoning your hope, your joy, and your energy, and replacing them with anxiety, insomnia, tension, and irritability. In other words, you’re no fun to live with.

So, how do we deal with worry?

First, recognize where it comes from: the enemy of our souls, a lack of trust in God, and a weak faith. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Second, respond to it by praying: cast your burdens on the Lord and leave them there!

Prioritize that worry list. Determine what’s most important and, with prayer, deal with that.

And finally, live in the present.

“Worry is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once,” said Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. “It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.”

Look at your calendar. See that square marked today? Focus on that. Live in one square at a time.

Do you dwell on the what if’s?

Do you focus on the worst-case scenario?

Do you lie awake at night because your worries are whirring through your mind and you just can’t put them to bed?

Maybe, like me, you need more practice with your casting—and learning not to reel them back in.

When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.  When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.  –Psalm 94:18–19 ESV

Read and reflect on Matthew 6:25–34.

 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoor Shots, © 2019, by Mark Kephart Sr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.  Click here to see more outdoor shots.

Turning a Setback into a Comeback

 

The shirt I wear when I need a morale boost.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. – Philippians 3:13 NLT

 A year ago I was a mess physically. Overweight, tired all the time, pushing through each day joylessly, miserable when I got on the scale and even more so when I looked in the mirror, and wrestling with insomnia night after night, despite sleeping pills.

I knew the answer lay in what I ate. I’d tried just about every diet out there, and mostly they worked – for a while. I’d lose a few pounds, start feeling good, then revert to my default mode. After all, how could a Slovak gal like me resist pasta and bread?

But a year ago I came to the end of my rope. I needed help. So I contacted a certified nutritional therapy practitioner. And my life changed.

Amy Taladay taught me a lot not just about the right foods, but about my own body and its response to the foods I eat. Within a month foggy-headedness disappeared, energy returned, pounds dropped off, and for the first time in years, I was able to sleep without sleeping pills. Folks told me my skin glowed.

Finally! Not a diet, but an eating plan I could live with for the rest of my life.

Then I went on vacation. A granola bar here, a slice of pizza there, and soon I was in default mode. Not entirely, but, hey, I wasn’t reacting to the food, so maybe I was healed of whatever it was that caused all my issues.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive! And that includes deceiving ourselves. By March, the gluten rash returned with a vengeance, as did the insomnia, fatigue, and brain fog. The numbers on my scale inched up.

Back to square one. But at least I know where square one is, and at least I have the resources to get back on track with what I call my vibrant health plan.

I will turn this setback into a comeback.

Peter, too, failed miserably, doing the very thing he boasted he’d never do – deny Jesus. “And he left the courtyard, weeping bitterly” (Luke 22:62 NLT). Yet less than two months later, we see Peter preaching boldly to a crowd of thousands in the very city where he denied Jesus (Acts 2:14–41). Of that crowd, 3,000 became believers.

Now, that’s turning a setback into a comeback!

How do you turn your setback into a comeback?

First, stop denying and face the truth about yourself. For me, it was accepting the fact that certain foods cause distress to my body and I need to avoid them  – for the rest of my life.

Second, truly repent, which means “to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing.” The negative effects of the foods I shouldn’t have eaten caused me great regret and remorse.

Third, determine not to make that mistake again – and commit to a positive, corrective course of action. For me, I committed to following my vibrant health plan to the letter, even though it takes hours in planning and preparation. The time spent is worth it.

Fourth, seek the counsel of those wiser and more knowledgeable and the support of those who truly care about you. I’m blessed to have a husband who encourages me to eat the right foods and is willing to eat whatever I make, whether it’s a flop or a hit. And to have the support of my prayer team, precious friends who uphold my writing and speaking ministry. They know whatever affects my body will affect my ministry.

Fifth, pray, asking for wisdom, guidance, and supernatural enabling. “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NLT).

And finally, let go of past mistakes. Learn from them and move on. Pursue the vision of whatever goal God has placed in your heart.

Lord, give me the strength, wisdom, and courage to turn this setback into a comeback. And I will give You the honor and the glory. Amen.

“Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” – Psalm 50:15
Read and meditate on Luke 22:31–34, 54–62

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.