Dark House

Worry

Anxiety

Angst

Fear

 

Words that grip

and grasp

and strangle

 

And we, the Free,

choose not to dwell

 

in that dark house

 

We breathe in

and breathe out

 

Light

 

The Light of the World

 

And the reason we don’t live

in that dark house

 

is because we dwell

and we abide

and we exist

 

with God

 

He calms

and strengthens

and shows us

 

that we don’t have to be chained

by fear

worry

angst

anxiety

 

He sets the prisoner free

 

Minds gripped by their circumstances

are bound by this world

 

Walk in your freedom

walk in your Light

 

You may have once been a prisoner

but Jesus set you free

 

Be fearless

because you are held in His arms

 

– Susie Stewart

 

 

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. 

– Philippians 4:6,7 (MSG)

 

Later, Jesus spoke to the people again and said, “I am the light of the world. The man who follows me will never walk in the dark but will live his life in the light.”

– John 8:12 (PHILLIPS)

 

But when the Father sends the Advocate as My representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

– John 14:26-28 (NLT)

 

…The Lord sets prisoners free.

– Psalm 146:7 (NIV)

 

Once you lived in the dark, but now the Lord has filled you with light. Live as children who have light.

– Ephesians 5:8 (GW)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

All In

 

All is His

and yet we grasp at it

 

He rules all

and yet we try to control

 

And when we don’t surrender

that which is already His

 

it only creates fear

and anger,

angst and worry

 

And it means that we aren’t all in

with Him

 

And once it is laid down

in love and obedience

 

He takes it and He blesses the sacrifice

done in worship

 

And there is peace in the soul of the one

who laid down the control

that was never his to begin with

 

– Susie Stewart

 

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.

– Romans 12:1 (NLT)

 

If only you would prepare your heart
and lift up your hands to Him in prayer!

– Job 11:13 (NLT)

 

That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.

– Romans 6:12-14 (MSG)

 

If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.

– C.T. Studd

 

Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow You,” he said.

– Mark 10:28 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Let Go of Control

 

 

A curious and continuous pursuit of our good God opens doors for us to experience all possibility beyond what we could imagine for ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m picking what is good for my life, then it’s probably going to feel good, look good, taste good, smell good, and be visibly good to anyone who sees it.

But the truth is, even some of the things that have looked “bad” from the outside have turned out to be good for me.

Because, while the currency of God’s goodness looks different from my own, it is infinitely more valuable.

Hard things make us dig deep within ourselves to find strength we didn’t know we had.

Loss teaches us to appreciate blessings that surround us.

And while I don’t want to minimize the depth of any pain and the years it can take to overcome the brokenness we experience in this life, there is good to be found, even in the hard and even through the bad.

As we embrace a curious faith, we exchange the currency of our control for the wealth of God’s possibility.

Maybe sometimes we do think we can control the way things go. To some extent we have the capacity to define our own paths and make decisions that shape the way we live.

We can direct behaviors and events, but when we allow that thinking to rule the way we live, we also lose the capacity to be curious about things unknown and outside of our own plans, outside of our limited view.

Control robs us of curiosity and puts a ceiling on our allowance of God’s possibility in our lives. Because after all, you can’t be curious about something you control.

I’ve heard it said, “Blessed are the curious … for they shall have adventures.” And, friend, when we try to control our lives, we miss out on the adventure of faith.

 

Release control…

be curious, and rediscover hope in the God of possibility.

– Logan Wolfram

 

Anxiety is a funny thing. We hoard up worries the way we hoard money and material goods. In some eras and cultures, people live hand-to-mouth and rely on each growing season to make it another year. I’m grateful not to live in a culture like that, yet I realize we’ve lost a certain perspective it fosters: our eyes no longer look to God to provide for daily needs. Instead, we take bread for granted and borrow trouble ahead of schedule, focusing on the adequacies and inadequacies of our insurance policies and savings accounts. We have so much less to worry about but worry about so much more! We get distracted by the constant barrage of media headlines about random violence, obscure medical anomalies, aberrant weather patterns, and the economic downturn. Suddenly, we’re a mess, worrying about our health and safety and families and careers and possessions. How can we possibly feel secure?

The answer is simple and yet such a hard thing to do: give up control and trust in the Lord with all my heart. God says over and over again to trust Him with fears and anxieties.

– Sharri Bockheim Steen

 

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

– 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

 

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

– Philippians 4:5-7 (MSG)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Katy

 

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I thought of my friend Katy as I read through these verses this morning.  Katy is a college student and has been working through college to pay for her education.  She is dependent on herself and no one else.  Back up.  It would appear that she is dependent on herself, but her hope for her future and for funds comes from a deep trust in God.  It’s not always easy to trust, though.  Jesus even says at the end of the above passage that each day has “trouble”. Katy struggles to know if she will be able to pay the bills, what she will do when she graduates soon, whether she can pay her school loans….

This very-familiar passage above intrigues me.  As I put the words of Scripture into my own words on paper, I asked Jesus, the one who said these things, “What do you mean by this?  You say ‘do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.’  Those are kind of essential things.  We need to eat.  We need to drink water.  We need to cover up.  Can’t get much more basic than that.  Seems like people should be concerned with those kinds of things…”  Jesus points out that He feeds the birds and “clothes” the flowers beautifully.  He says, “Are you not much more valuable than they?”  So, Lord, we are valuable to You.  This I believe deeply.  We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and You “knit us together”.  We have value because of the value You placed on us.  Not because of anything we did or hope to do.  But here I go, off into a side subject.  Back to worry.  I don’t believe Jesus’ point is “who cares about whether you eat or drink or wear clothes or pay your bills or get a good job…”  His main point seems to be right at the end of this passage in verse 33.  “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Jesus understands.  He not only made us, so He knows what our thoughts and emotions are regarding the stresses of life, but He also experienced them while here on earth.  If you jump ahead to Matthew 8:20 you see that He didn’t even have a bed to call His own.

Katy works hard to provide for herself and to get an education.  Money is tight, but her eyes are focused where they should be, on Jehovah-Jireh.  That’s Hebrew for “God our Provider”. That’s why she asks me to pray for her needs.

Some of you may be thinking, “Americans are the richest people in the world!  What do they have to worry about?”  Well, it’s our tendency as humans from any walk of life to worry when things don’t look so promising.  Even when things DO look promising, we can gravitate toward worry.  But I’ve seen Africans with virtually nothing lean into God’s loving arms of providence for their daily bread.  They are seeking Him first.  He provides.  I’ve witnessed wealthy people who are completely bankrupt emotionally and spiritually because they chose to seek wealth first, instead of God.  We all need to remember that it could all be gone instantly.  None of it is worth holding in a tight fist.

I encourage those of us who know God to make our relationship with Him priority over our stuff and even over our needs.  “All these things will be added to you.”  And how about we all make ourselves available to be used of God to help others who need food, water, shelter?  Being used of God is a blessing and a joy.  Ask Him what you should do to help.  He’ll show you.

Love you, Katy!  I’m proud of you.  ❤

– Susie Stewart