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by Phil Ware
I take the same route home from work almost every day. I must take a left hand turn at a busy intersection, and invariably I spend two or three cycles of that light waiting to make my turn. One day I looked down at the ground as I waited. To my amazement, there were literally thousands of cigarette butts littering the ground in piles all along this left hand turn lane. As I saw the butts that littered my daily passage through this light, I remembered something I heard years ago. I have often passed this same advice to those with whom I visit. When you have a stressful job, it is often very helpful to visualize off-loading the days worries and stresses at a specific spot on your way home. Then, when you head back in to work the next morning, you visualize picking those burdens back up on your way to the office. When you are tempted to worry about those problems, you pray and ask God to work on them after all, you cant work on them, because you left them beside the road till the next day.
Many of the folks to whom Ive suggested this tactic have all sorts of reasons not to do this. Their standard response nearly always begins this way, But I... Its then that I say something my mother used to say to me when she gave me chores to do as a boy, No buts about it!
Yes, it seems a little simplistic as a plan for dealing with stress. Yes, those problems we leave beside the road are often tough, big problems many of them way beyond our ability to decipher, much less handle with dexterity. Yes, this is just a little visualization technique, and Im sure you can reason your way around this technique; after all, you do know that the problems are still with you and not just sitting beside the road. You dont have to leave those burdens there, you can take them home and take them out on those who need your love. You can hang on to them and have them ruin your attitude and health. Most of all, if you so desire, you can clutch on to your problems tight enough to drive away your faith. If you so desire, you can come up with all sorts of buts that explain why you shouldnt do it and how such a procedure wont work for you. So I want to remind you, Not buts about it!
So dont worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Todays trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:34)
Both Jesus and the apostle Paul come right out and command it: Dont worry! and there are no buts about it! In fact, the apostle Peter makes the same basic point when he says, Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Clearly, this is easier said than done for many of us. However, the principle is clear dont worry, but give your cares and worries to God!
I know what some of you are already thinking: Oh boy, another one of those let go and let God Pollyanna naive religious people! Im with you. Im not much on religious slogans, especially simplistic ones. But, more often than wed like to admit it, underneath the slogans is a kernel of inescapable truth.
So how are we going to do it? How are we going to give it to God and not have it eat us alive? Well, find a place along the way you regularly travel* and lay your burdens down with the prayer: Dear Father, you know that I am concerned and worried about these problems. In fact, dear God, Im having trouble obsessing over them. However, Im trusting that you are work in my life and will be at work for my good in these problems. So Im intentionally and consciously leaving these concerns in your hands and I will not mess with them while you are working on them tonight. Please have your Spirit work on my mind and my heart as I sleep tonight, so that I can see your answer when you reveal it and be comforted by your presence until that answer comes. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
So everyday as I sit while that light cycles a time or two, I see those cigarette butts and Im reminded to give my worries to the Father. When I find myself wandering back to my worries, I gently hear the voice of grace say, Now Phil, remember, there are no buts about it! Invariably, I find that when I go back by those butts in the morning, the problems I left there the night before have become lighter and easier to bear and a solution is nearer than when I first left them.
So listen to Jesus and Paul and Peter. Lay your burdens down. Let the Father work on them while you rest, while you interact with your family, and while you serve someone who needs grace. After all, theres no buts about it!
Author: Phil Ware
Publication Date: June 2, 2003
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