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Friday Devotion (Don't Worry About a Thing...!)

Don’t Worry About a Thing…!

Way back in February, just before the whole world went inside, I took my granddaughter to see “Three Little Birds” at the Children’s Theatre. This delightful little play was inspired by the Bob Marley song by the same name. His daughter created the story about a Jamaican boy named Ziggy who spent all day watching television because of his great fear of hurricanes and the tropical storms that plagued his island nation. His friend Nansi finally lures him out of the house for an adventure in the jungle where they encounter and out-trick the trickster Duppy. Duppy is a bad spirit that thrives on the hair of children. His admiration of Ziggy’s locks consumes him but Ziggy learns from the three birds that Duppy can be foiled by counting to eight. Nansi finds a spider which they gift to Duppy and upon counting the eight legs of the spider, Duppy is sent fleeing into the thick never to be seen again. The refrain of Marley’s signature song becomes their theme – “Don’t worry about a thing…cuz every little thing’s gonna be alright!” (Cue the ear worm!)

This is a wonderful message for children – children of all ages, but it’s easier said than done. As the pandemic looms on, anxiety mounts - that pit in our stomachs that grows out of fear of the unknown – and it’s deadly and sometimes silent partner, depression, is close behind. The prolonged state of the source of our anxiety has begun to wear down our defenses. We are fragile and more vulnerable than we like. Our sadness and gloom rob the joy from our days. Our anger and rage are just below the thin surface ready to erupt at any moment, sometimes for no apparent reason. People are worn thin, tired, and spent. There is no end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel, no hope for a bright future.

What does scripture teach us about anxiety? We often and always turn to Philippians 4:6. We have it memorized, we have it underlined in our Bibles and cross stitched on our walls: Be anxious for nothing, it says. Sounds easy, right? I have never mastered this superpower, that is for sure! In the verses surrounding this statement we find a formula. Paul says this – you know it by heart – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It is not just by sheer force of our will that we stop being anxious. We have to practice rejoicing and being thankful and depending on God, who is near! It is like exercise for our souls.

The result? “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (vs. 7). Dallas Willard says that peace is resting in goodness, or soul rest. We no longer live in a confrontational posture, but in the rest of God – true sabbath. We cease from our own deeds and rest in God’s provision. I must say that this is most certainly the only remedy to our predicament of constant anxiety today. We must be about practicing prayer and thanksgiving – this is living in the moment instead of worrying about the future. It is opening our eyes and giving our attention to all we have on our banquet table right now instead of fretting about what will be lost over the long term. It is utter surrender and dependence on God, our Abba Father. Peace is gift. Peace is pure grace. We can count to eight and send the Enemy fleeing, but in the end, our rest and our peace comes from knowing that God knows us, he loves us, and he is very near. And then we can sing with Ziggy and Nansi that every little thing’s gonna be alright!

                 420 Roy Street North, Saint Paul MN 55014

Phone: (651) 646-2751

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