“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
When I came across this quote, it was attributed to the great philosopher Van Wilder. I had no idea who Van Wilder is. I checked Wikipedia and discovered he is not a philosopher, but a character in a National Lampoon movie. Other sites attribute the original quote to author Erma Bombeck or to motivational speakers Glenn Turner and Vance Havner. Sometimes it is hard to give credit when it is due.
I found the quote within a blog called FaithIt. The blog entry was titled, “The Nine Sins the Church Is OK With.” Worry was named as one of the nine sins.
Having just recently confessed my own tendency to worry in the devotional “Feet for Life’s Path,” I found the list intriguing and thought-provoking. Fear, apathy, gluttony, flattery, comfort, consumerism, patriotism, and lying also made the author’s list.
There was another quote attributed to an unnamed friend of the author that hit the nail on the head for me. The author wrote, “I asked a good friend why worry plagues the church, and he said something profound, ‘My greatest concern is that we don’t want to need God. We’re Americans. We’re independent.’”
Those of us who live in western society are influenced by a Greco-Roman worldview. That worldview was developed by one of the greatest missionaries in human history, Alexander the Great. His worldview placed humans, and not God, at the center. The human body and the things that pleasure it drive human desires. Alexander believed the tools of sex, athletics, the arts, and the marketplace would draw worshipers to his temples – the gymnasium, the arenas, the theatre, and the malls. He called his religious worldview Hellenism. We have known it as humanism. Adam and Eve knew it as the temptation to be godlike.
The human condition that resulted from the long-ago Fall in Eden is the same today as it was then. We do not want to need God, because to accept our need for God is to admit our weakness, to place obedience to him before our own desires, and to turn over every worry to his will.
That is not our tendency. We tend to seek independence and self-reliance. In our North American view runners-up are losers and participation trophies are for the weak. Athletic champions and Oscar winners are virtually deified. No one remembers or cares who finished second.
The author goes on to add, “Americans will do anything to maintain the illusion of control and responsibility, so no wonder worry plagues us. Worry is the by-product of bearing a weight only God can bear.”
Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6: 33-34).
Is worry a barrier to seeking the kingdom? For those of us in leadership positions and who claim to be God’s kingdom-advancing disciples, is worry a roadblock to the calling God has given to us?
In 1 Peter 5:7 believers are challenged to cast all of our cares and anxieties on God, because he cares for us.
How challenging for North American leaders who live in the illusion that we are in control. How liberating to submit to our God, who promises to bear the weight of every burden.
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services