God is helping me get free of quantitative worry. Let me call this QW. QW frets about not having “enough.” “Enough” is defined numerically. QW is worry over not having enough money, not having enough people in one’s church, and not having enough time. QW agonizes over the past and doom-and-glooms over the future. QW cannot live in the present, precisely because the present does not yet have “enough.”
I learned QW from my parents, who acquired it from humanity at large. I remember, as a little child, being told “We don’t have enough money to get this thing we need.” I wasn’t told that a lot. Maybe, for me, once was enough. I was powerless to help my family, and I laid in bed at night worrying about it.
Worry is impotent. When Jesus asks “Why worry about things?” (Matthew 6:25) I respond, “Why, indeed?” “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27) I keep thinking about Jesus saying “Don’t worry about clothes” at a time when most people had only one or two items of clothing to wear, rather than the closet-and-attic-full of clothing I have. The “quantity” of things those people had approached zero. They had little or no money, there were only a handful of people in the Jesus-movement, and their leader was turning things upside-down. So here am I, with a significant quantity of clothing, a quantity of material goods, things that would cause first-century Jews to jaw-drop, one gazillion Facebook friends, and money to go buy a coffee this morning. What, then, is the deal with the QW thing in me? And how can it be overcome?
The answers are:
1) Trust – because in areas where one trusts worry is absent. The amount of worry is in inverse proportion to the amount of trust.
2) Trust in God – because one’s object of trust must be able to provide.
3) Provision – needs are what are needed, not wants.
4) Be free of the consumer god – the message of American consumerism is: “You don’t have enough if you don’t yet have this.”
A while ago I received a call from someone who does not attend my church. They wanted my time. I gave it to them. But I did think, “I’m spending my time on someone who will be of no advantage to me, so this seems to be a waste of my time.” Now that is not the heart of Jesus. It comes from, I believe, a lack of trust that produces the sleepless fruit of worry.
When I am completely purged of QW I will be fully free to spend my life on others. That’s my prayer, and I’m trusting that God is doing this in me.