My husband, James, will be joining me on the blog now! We hope to make Parenting with Humility a Gospel-centered site for families that want to seek the Lord together. I hope that you enjoy this first post from James!
When a smoker gets anxious, their natural tendency is to smoke, and then they feel better, for the moment. It’s not as if smokers are the only anxious people though. All of us get anxious, and all of us use things to help us get past our anxious times. There are far fewer cigarette smokers in America today than 50 years ago; we have smartphones instead.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and constant updates about everything, from what our great aunt’s friend’s barber’s nephew had for breakfast this morning, to the president’s favorite shoe color, to the latest tragically dead zoo-animal. And in the midst of all this, we have to fit in somewhere. We want our lives to be relevant in a sea of information and personalities that are constantly competing for love and respect.
This constant connectedness has the tendency to make us anxious, just like smoking does over the long term. Yet, like smokers, we use the computer, tablet, or phone, to make us less anxious, which it might for a few minutes, and then we are back in the very scary real world. Some folks are drawn to the ashy orange glow of a cancer stick, while others compulsively seek the grey glow of their iPhone.
There is so much to be anxious about in this world. We worry about the impressions we make and what others think of us. We are self-conscious about our physical appearance, or whether others find us skinny or attractive enough. Perhaps they are secretly mocking us as they scroll through our Facebook photo albums.
We might be anxious about our young children’s education, the food they eat, how bad their behavior seems to be, whether other children might set a bad example for them. Or maybe they are the bad example, and we are left wringing our hands over the adult they will become.
There is no earthly way to escape anxiety. We are not capable of getting rid of worry on our own. I mean, there is so much to be worried about! There are no lasting solutions out there that can escape the heart problem. But Jesus actually offers us a solution to our worry, one that does not simply alleviate worry, but one that can actually cure us.
Luke 12:29-31 (ESV) – And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
Jesus was not unaware that the world was a scary place. He speaks in many places of the conflicts and dangers that were coming for His people (John 16:2), not to mention things that can threaten anybody, like war, famine, earthquakes, and oppressive governments (Matthew 24:7). He knows about your struggles over body image and misbehaving children.
He knows that there are always going to be people out there who seem so much better than us, and who make us feel bad about ourselves. He saw his disciples as they freaked out over a terrible storm while they sailed on the Sea of Galilee, and He asked them “Why are you so afraid. Do you have no faith?” after He spoke the storm out of existence (Mark 4:35-41).
The heart issue is an issue of confidence. Is our confidence in ourselves, or in God? There are a million things to be worried about in this world if we are putting our confidence in ourselves, our spouse, our children, our job, our bodies, our stuff. But Jesus tells us directly, “do not seek after those things, and do not worry about them”. All kinds of people everywhere are spending a lot of time and energy going after all that, but we have a father who knows and will care for our needs.
He knows how bad things can be in this world. He knows how broken we are. He knows that if we try to do it on our own it will make us anxious and fearful, because we cannot actually be all that we or our families need us to be at the end of the day, when the job is lost or the spouse is abandoned or the child falls away or the cancer comes. He knows we can’t do it, so he makes us free. “Don’t seek all that, don’t try to be God, seek my kingdom, and I will give to you all that you need.” You will have what you need, and you don’t even have to look for it.
Let me be clear; this is not a call to inaction. This is not “let go and let God”. This is a call to action, but a certain kind of action, an action that is oriented toward God’s glory, not James Chadwell’s glory. My worry is just a reminder that I am not God and that I need to be looking to Him far more often than I look to my computer, with trust and confidence in His power to provide whatever I need.