There’s a question that comes to my mind in stressful times now. If I’m angry, worried, annoyed, the Holy Spirit has this question He asks. It began about six years ago when we were trying to buy a house “in town”. We lived (and still live) kind of in the woods, and we were at a busy and growing church in town so much of our time that we wanted to move in closer. It seemed easier, it seemed to make sense. But wave after wave kept it from happening.
As the difficulties arose, as we were losing money trying to make this happen, I was finding myself escalating to basket-case status!! And that’s when the Lord spoke gently to me with the question.
“Lyndsay, why do you care so much?”
The question made me even more frustrated, but I settled down to think about it. I was angry God didn’t seem to be letting us accomplish what I thought He told us to accomplish. Why did I care so much about moving? Why did I mind so deeply that it was falling apart? Why did I care so much?
Well, one reason was that I felt stupid for not knowing how to do this process better, pick the right people to help make it happen, be more mature in the business world. I didn’t like feeling “less than”. That showed me a root of pride in my heart. It was time to take a step back, admit I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t make it happen, and release it into the Lord’s hands (for real this time), meaning if He didn’t make it happen, we would walk away with peace whether we understood or not. I also cared so much because I wanted to please the people at my church; I wanted them to see we were taking our beliefs seriously, and I probably wanted some applause for it, too. Again, pride. An all-about-me attitude religiously disguised as a good deed.
Also, in answer to that question, I told the Lord I cared so much because I thought I was doing what He said to do. This seemed reasonable! To move into town, to be closer to the people we were ministering to… I had grand hopes of opening my home so much more often, having weekly meals for teenagers, being able to babysit for people at the last minute. So I told Him this, and He answered me. His voice was like a hammer, and I’m not exaggerating. It was suddenly in my spirit, I knew it was Him. He said: “I never told you to do that.”
He never told me to do that.
We quickly got out of the deal, money lost, time lost, and happily have been at our house ever since.
What is the point of all this?
It’s not about the house, or moving, or difficulties, or helping the least of these in our community (although it’s important to say He does want us to do this, it just might not be in the way we think!)
It’s about the fact that now God can say, “Why do you care so much?” and I can begin dealing with the heart of the matter right away. He’s not saying I can’t care at all. Obviously, we have to care about potentially distressing things to a certain extent. But if our attention to these things brings us to a place of fear, worry, anger, ugly judgment of others, or the inability/unwillingness to treat others in a loving way something has gone wrong.
To know in your spirit that you’re not meant to stay in that place is huge. And the next step is to let Him ask the question, and let Him begin to navigate your understanding toward the truth. Everyone’s answer to the question, “Why do you care so much?”, is going to be different. But once we know the root, it’s amazing how quickly we can work through it with Him, especially if we have a willing spirit. We may be fully justified in feeling upset, this isn’t saying emotion is not okay. There are real problems, real needs in our lives! But God has given us a way to live in peace and joy instead of turmoil, and here is that way:
“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matt. 22:37-38
Your heart is your desires, what you really wish for!! Your soul is your identity, what makes you who you are. Your mind is your thoughts, what you dwell on.
When people or circumstances lead us to fear, anger, worry, etc., aren’t we exercising our heart, soul, and mind to an extreme? We’re putting our strong desires, our deep needs, and our constant thoughts toward whatever conclusion we are aiming toward. In the house scenario, my desires and needs and thoughts were very much wrapped up in wanting to both be, and appear to be, useful to the Lord. That was truly the heart of it.
Jesus says this is idolatry. He tells us to put those desires, needs, and thoughts toward Him and Him alone! Not His work, not what we think He wants from us, but Him alone. That doesn’t mean obedience won’t flow from our lives. In fact, the opposite is true. When we are no longer worshipping what we can do for God, but instead are single-mindedly worshipping Him, that’s when obedience and fruit can finally be seen.
Anything less than worshipping Him simply hurts us. He knows the angst we feel when we start putting our heart, soul, and mind toward anything else, so He says don’t do it! He says come away from all of that, come toward Him. As you do, the things of this lifetime will pale and fade, you just won’t care as much about that fender-bender or that argument or even your very life, as you seek Him and find Him and know Him. I’m not saying it’s easy, or that I am always there because I’m not, but I am saying it’s true.
Keeping an eye on the plumb line of loving Him with our heart, soul, and mind doesn’t mean perfection, it just means we notice there is always another realm, always another layer to the story He’s writing, and we always know where we can come back to when we realize our desires, thoughts, and needs have strayed from the One who deserves that kind of focus.