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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stop the Multiplication!


How good are you at multiplication? 8 x 8 = ? 12 x 9 = ? Ah, I always hated the 12s. Especially once you get past 10. 

True to our math teachers' words we really do use multiplication most every day, whether we're cooking, purchasing things, sewing, doing simple accounting, figuring out mileage, or worrying. That's right, I said worrying.

Have you ever noticed how worries seem to multiply? You probably don't plan for your worries to multiply, but, like rabbits in a cage, if you give them time and feed them they'll produce one more worry after another.

One of my biggest worries right now is how we're going to pay for my daughter's college education. God supplied beautifully for my son's college degree. He's a National Merit scholar and attends one of a handful of schools that actually gives him a full scholarship for this honor. And that's just the simple rendition of how God provided Daniel's financing for college. It's really a lot more intricate and supernatural than that.

But alas, now we're on child number two's senior year of high school and I'm worrying about wondering what we're going to do about her college expenses. Believe me, if anyone knows that God can and will provide it's me. I've seen Him do it. But I'll admit, I still worry at times.

Are you a good worrier? Do your worries multiply like weeds in an Arizona monsoon season?

Recently I saw the movie I Don't Know How She Does It with Sarah Jessica Parker and Greg Kinnear. (Not a stellar movie, by the way, but fairly clean and cute. Kind of exalts the working mom while demeaning the stay-at-home mom, but I don't carry a chip on my shoulder about all that stuff, so it was ok with me...now...back to my point.) In the movie Parker's character talks about "the list," that never-ending, always-surfacing list that all moms have in their heads and often dwell on most as they lie in bed at night trying to fall asleep. The list typically includes things you've got to do, things each child needs, concerns you have over each child, places you need to go, calls you need to make, things you need to pay for...my blood pressure is rising as I type! According to the frazzled working mom in the movie (I forgot her name), the list starts off simple enough in your head, but before long the worries multiply until each anxiety has sprung a list of its own. Now you have multiple lists and you're juggling them like stacks of plates.

Indeed, the Bible confirms that our worries tend to multiply if we feed them by stewing over them, naming them one-by-one, and giving them more weight than they deserve. Consider the words I read today in Psalm 94:19:

When my anxious thought multiply within me,
Thy consolations delight my soul.
Psalm 94:19

I've experienced multiplying worries and my bet is that you have too. But I've also experienced the delight of God gently rebuking me for being anxious and consoling my fretful mind. Have you?
 
How does God console us when we're worried? Well, we have to turn to His promises, which are found in His Word. We have to find the promises that truly apply to our current anxieties and meditate on those. We have to find scriptures that remind us of God's character--His faithfulness, generosity, unconditional love, graciousness, power, and commitment. And it does us well to also read stories about how He intervened in the lives of other people who were worried at one time too. 

I like to write one or two of those scriptures on 4 x 6 index cards and keep them with me throughout the day. That way when my worries start multiplying in my head I can shut the arithmetic down by reading or reciting God's truth over those ferocious little anxieties. And the more I do that and the longer I keep it up and the more those truths become ingrained in my heart and head, the less my worries multiply. In fact, before I know it I've done a little simple division and whittled my worries down to nothing more than a puff of smoke. Poof, they're gone!

Have worries been multiplying in your head lately? That's a common thing, especially for us parents. But it's not a good way to live. Instead allow God's sweet, promising, and trustworthy consolations to delight your soul and divide those anxieties into oblivion. Poof!

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