Hope for the Anxious Part 1: Cliff Hanger










Cliffs of Mohrer (Ireland) By Tobias Helfrich [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve all seen the scene.  The bad guys are chasing the good guys across the desert.  Or through the forest.  Or around a winding mountain.

The chase is getting heated.  Hearts are pounding.  Brows sweating.  Running for their lives.

They are running at top speed, the land flat ahead of them. And, all of a sudden…

Yikes!  Screeching breaks.  Braying horses.  Gravel flying through a cloud of dust.  What’s that?

A precipice.  A tall cliff.

They are at the edge peering down.  I’m getting vertigo just thinking about it.  This particular scenario never ended well for Wile E. Coyote.  It didn’t do much for Thelma and Louise either.

The bad guys are coming.  You are sandwiched between your foe and a very steep vertical drop.  Your mind is racing.  Your heart is pounding.  You’re sweating profusely.  Panic seizes your senses.  Oh no!  What do you do, what do you do…

There it is folks.  That is anxiety in a nutshell.  The feeling of fear – sometimes sheer terror – that makes rational thought very difficult (if not impossible).  The feeling of anxiety has to be close to a negative version of the exhilaration an extreme sports junky experiences before the big bungee jump.  It’s an adrenaline rush without the fun.  You just feel like your falling off a cliff.

Now, imagine experiencing that feeling non-stop.  For hours.

For days.

For weeks.

For months.

A person who experiences such anxiety often ends up hanging out with it’s even worse cousin: depression.  After all, that supply of adrenaline ain’t gonna last forever.  You have to crash sometime.

Taken together, it can feel like one big hopeless roller coaster.  It messes with your mind.  It messes with your body.  It messes with your sleep and your diet.  It messes with your family and relationships.  It messes with your job and your down time.

It messes with every aspect of your life.

And it can seem like a hopeless situation.

However, while anxiety and depression are difficult – perhaps the most difficult situation many ever face – that doesn’t mean your situation is hopeless.

The believers in Philippi had plenty of reason to feel anxious.  They were Christians.  And being a Christian was illegal in Roman Empire.  Plus, Philippi was a place of military importance and considerable commercial wealth.  It wasn’t some backwater colony that barely blipped on Rome’s radar.  It would make sense that Philippi would not be a place to be viewed as an enemy of Rome.

In his letter to the Philippian church, the apostle Paul encourages the believers there to “stand firm in the Lord” (Phil. 4:1, ESV).  And, on his first visit to the city, Paul left the church with a vivid illustration of what that looks like.

Acts 16 tells us the story of Paul and Silas’ first trip to Philippi.  And the hot water they managed to get themselves into:

16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. – Acts 16:16-18 (ESV)

So far, so good… right?  Fortune-telling girl follows the apostle around town, mockingly announcing their presence to all of the city. Paul gets fed up and drives the evil spirit from her.

But not everyone was happy about the slave girl’s new found freedom in Christ:

19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. – Acts 16:19-24 (ESV)

Never mess with a man’s paycheck.

The situation looks hopeless.  Paul and Silas are shackled deep inside a prison, far from home in distant Philippi.  Now what?  Read on…

25  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. – Acts 16:25-34 (ESV)

There are some things we need to note here.  Paul and Silas were facing the impossible.  They were in a very bad place.  But, take a look:

  1. They were praising God!  Even in this dank, dingy, hopelessly miserable place, Paul and Silas were being salt and light.  They “were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25, ESV).  They weren’t worried.  They weren’t anxious.  They were a beacon of hope in Christ to a prison full of men who had no reason to hope.  Paul and Silas let the faith dictate their actions, not their emotions.
  2. It was God Who freed them.  Paul and Silas were simply faithful.  They weren’t hatching an escape plan.  They weren’t the ones who caused the earthquake and broke open the shackles.  That was all God.
  3. The jailer did the exact opposite of Paul and Silas.  He saw the open jail doors.  Having fallen asleep on the job, he knew he messed up.  Big time.  But, having no hope himself, the jailer became anxious, “drew his sword and was about to kill himself” (Acts 16:27, ESV).  His near-fatal decision was ill-informed by fear based on the (false) assumption that the prisoners had escaped.
  4. It was God Who freed the jailer.  Through the cacophony of the earthquake and clanging of dropping chains, Paul saw what the jailer was about to do and shouted out to him, “Stop!  It’s all ok!  We’re all here!”  And, that night, Paul and Silas ministered not only to the jailer, but his family as well, baptizing them all.

Now, if you want an example of boldness, go read Acts 16:35-40.  There you will find absolutely brazen boldness exhibited through faith in God through Jesus Christ.

Today’s lesson in all of this: be bold.  Be strong in the Lord.  Have courage.  Your situation is not merely what you perceive.  Your pursuing enemies aren’t as strong as you think.  And you are not about to get shoved over a cliff.

Have faith.  Stand strong in Christ.  Just believe.






Logos and the Wonder of God’s Word

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1 (ESV)

The Holy Bible.  There is no collection of writings like it.  No other volume you can pick up and hold in your human hands is alive and active.

And I do mean alive.  These are not merely the words of men who follow God:

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)

All of Scripture is God’s words, His Word, His revelation of Himself to humanity.

To His children.

To us.

For me, no book of the Bible shows the hand of God at work in words like the gospel of John.  Here we have a gospel that is unique among the four books of its genre.  And yet, despite its differences with Matthew, Mark and Luke, John’s gospel flows in absolute harmony with the “synoptic” gospels.  

Not only that, but consider this: the gospel of John was written to two divergent audiences, the Jews and the Greeks.  John uses metaphors that would ring loud in a Jew’s ears, while throwing in language that the Greeks would understand and appreciate.

Look at John 1:1.  The sentence echoes the very first words of Genesis, of the Penteteuch: “In the beginning…”  Only, instead of saying “In the beginning God…” we have “In the beginning, the Word…”  As we read on through the rest of John 1, we see that God is the Word, and Jesus is God Incarnate, the second person of the Trinity and, thus, Deity.  He was there and active in the creation of the world.  (No wonder God is referred to in the plural in the Genesis creation account.)

But John is not simply reaching out to Jewish believers.  He is sharing this message in terms the philosophical Greek Gentiles would understand.   The word “Word” is translated from the Greek word logos.  Aristotle taught that the logos was a force of reason.  It is what separated man from animals, giving us the ability to reason, to ponder, to think abstractly.

What John is showing us is that the logos is indeed very real.  However, it isn’t some force that enables humans to be humans.  The Logos is Jesus Christ, Son of God and son of man, Who has always been, Who was present and active in creation (including creating man separate and unique from the animals).  It is the Logos Who descended to earth, lived among us, gave His life for our sins, and rose again.

And all of this from the words of a simple, elderly fisherman with no formal rhetorical education?  No, this has to be the inspired word of God.  This is God meeting His people where they are, revealing Himself in terms we can understand through our own frame of reference.

This simply scratches the surface of the wonders of Scripture, the very living and active Word of God.

And some folks think studying the Bible is boring…


Put Down Those Keys

1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:1-2 (ESV)

How did you sleep last night?  Please don’t say “like a baby”.  Babies are up every two hours, crying and hungry.

I hope you slept well and, whether you did or not, I pray you sleep well tonight.

I’m not sue what’s keeping you up at night.  Maybe it’s worries about life: family, home, job.  Maybe it’s uncertainty about the future.  Perhaps you’re facing a problematic situation and just don’t know how to approach it.  Whatever is giving you anxiety, you need to remember this: God is in control.

If you are a control freak like me, let met sum it up like this:

1. God is in control.

2. You are not God.  Ergo… (you connect the dots).

We worry about so much in life and let so many details hog tie us in knots we can’t seem to undo.  Junk from the past, stuff going on now, things that haven’t happened yet (and most likely never will)… this stuff all robs us of our joy, our peace, our rest.

But what if… what if we could realize that God loves us.

What if we could grasp that His grace is sufficient fo our every circumstance, our very lives.

What if we could understand that we don’t have to earn forgiveness or love.  God loves us because God is love and love bears no grudges or ill will.

What if we could let go of the need to control every little iota of our lives and let God run the show.  He is anyway.

I used to tease my friend’s son Levi when he was about ten.  I’d hold out my car keys and ask if he wants to drive.  “Really?!” he said.  “Absolutely.  As long as you can reach the peddles.”

He couldn’t.

And, honestly, neither can we.  This life is too big, too intricate, too much for us to drive on our own.

So, here’s what I want you to do.  The next time you’re anxious, or worried, or doubtful, stop. Pray.  Remember that God has it all under control, no matter how scary or unpleasant or painful things seem.  Quit trying to take the keys from God.  He’s not your co-pilot.  You aren’t qualified or licensed.

Trust God.  Stop toiling.  Rest in Him and sleep easy.

And, by the way, th day did come when Levi turned 16 and could reach the peddles.

I still didn’t give him the keys.

Looking Up From the Hog Trough

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ – Luke 15:17-19 (ESV)

One of my favorite qualities of the Bible is the economy of it’s writing.  There are no wasted words.

No filler.

There are passages so rich, so filled with God, that they reveal something new and wonderful with every reading.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) is one such passage.  In 22 short verses, Jesus provides us with a story so full of wisdom and love that we can go back again and again – and again – and repeatedly mine gold nuggets from the same spot.

One could write a book on all the Prodigal Son and his family have to teach us.

I’m sure people already have.

Maybe I should.

This parable is the story of all of us in so many ways.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  We are all rebels in one way or another.  Every sin we commit is rebellion against God.  (If we stop for just a moment and truly allow that reality to soak into our brains, we should shudder at the thought.)

Consider this: The definition of a prodigal is one who has much and squanders what he/she is given.  And the younger son in Luke 15 clearly had no appreciation for what the material wealth of his father’s household.  Perhaps everything had come easy to him.  Perhaps he was spoiled or simply immature.  Perhaps he was just rebellious, wanting to get away from his dad and older brother and do life his way.

What is clear is that the younger brother had no desire to serve his father or work the fields with his older brother.  He wanted to party.  Wine, women and song.  Black limousines, hitting the clubs, picking up prostitutes…

The prodigal asked his dad for his inheritance a little early.  What a slap in his father’s face.  “I know you’re not dead yet, but can I have my inheritance now?”  And the father, who loves his child regardless of what he does, gives him his share.

This young, immature man goes off with his inheritance. Understand, this is the fruit of his father’s labor, not his.  He’s done nothing to earn this inheritance.  He certainly doesn’t deserve it.

And he squanders it all on what the KJV calls “riotous” living.

Things so bad.  The money runs out.  A famine hits.  And here is the Prodigal Son with no means of supporting himself.  He ends up feeding pigs and hungering for their food.  Therein lies one of life’s great lessons: sin only leaves you wanting more.  It’s insatiable, like a huge, immoral tapeworm.

A Jewish reader of this passage would probably understand the depth of this young depravation, for there is nothing filthier than a pig.  Swine are the ultimate in unclean animals.  For a man to fall from serving a loving a father to serving pigs – and lusting to feed from the same trough as them – is about as bad as a fall from grace can get.

The Prodigal Son just couldn’t go any lower.  He bottomed out.

We need to understand what we have been given.  To do that, we need to hit bottom.  We need to catch ourselves glaring hungrily at the slop in the hog trough.  We need to see the depth of our depravity.

And then we need to do what the prodigal did at the bottom.

We need to come to our senses.

We need to look around and say, “This is useless.  I’m starving.”

Then we need to humbly go home.  Go to our Father.  Understand that we do not deserve His forgiveness, but we ask for it anyway.  Be humble.  Be broken.  Be contrite.  Seek His forgiveness.  Seek to simply serve Him.

In other words, repent.

And, while none of us deserves it, look at how the father treated his young son upon his return:

20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. – Luke 15:20-24 (ESV)

It’s never too late.  The grace, love, mercy and kindness of our Heavenly Father is limitless, boundless, unending.  You can do nothing to negate God’s love for you.

Don’t feel so ashamed that you think God won’t take you back.  Don’t feel such guilt that you can’t believe anyone else knows how you feel.  Lift your head up from the slop and look around.  We have all fed from the same trough.

If you need to go back home, begin your journey now.  The Father will greet you with open arms! 

If you’ve come back home, don’t look back at the pig trough.  Understand this: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2, ESV).  You have been set free!

And the one the Lord sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).  In other words, this isn’t merely some abstract religious teaching.  You are truly, with 100% certainty, fully and completely free from the sin you once lived, from the prodigal life, from the mistakes of your past and present.

Live free!  Revel in God’s love and grace, and love God and others.  And, yes, you may face naysayers and near-do-wells who knew you back then, knew you s the prodigal, and don’t want you to forget the old you.  Don’t worry about them.  Live free anyway!

But, that’s another lesson for another time.  See what I meant?  A passage rich with God’s wisdom and love.


It’s Not About the Widgets

 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

We all have days when we look around – at our lives, our jobs, our surroundings – and we think, “Why am I here?  What purpose could I possibly have?”  For those of us who have our struggles with anxiety and/or depression, those thoughts can take us in a direction that is unhealthy.  

The truth of why we are here is so simple that we easily – and often – miss it.  God is so complex, far beyond our full comprehension.  How often do we tie ourselves up in knots of complexity when our Heavenly Father, in His great love, grace and mercy, has already provided us with what is really a very simple answer?

We are called to good works.  We are called to love God first and love others as ourselves.  We are called to live for something greater than ourselves, to stop our inward navel gazing and focus on God and His will and His ways and His word and His kingdom.

Say you are a widget salesman.  Maybe you’re the best widget salesperson to ever invest in a career dedicated to selling widgets and whirligigs and whatnots.  Or, conversely, maybe you are the worst widget salesperson in the whole history of widget manufacturing.  Maybe you couldn’t tell a widget from a whatchamacallit in the ground.  Maybe you’ve tried to get out of the widget business and just can’t seem to break free.

Here’s the deal: it’s not about the widgets.  Or the whatsits.  Or the thingamajiggers.  It is about what you do with what God has given you.  How do you impact others?  How do you show love, or compassion, or encouragement to others?  How are you salt and light at work?

At home?

In traffic?

At the dentist?

In the drive thru line at the local Biggie Burger?

How you take who you are – the amazing creation of God, unique and individual, perfectly fitted and gifted to His plan –  and serve others?  What good works do we perform in the name of Jesus?  That, friends, is where we find meaning.  That is how we discover our purpose.  It isn’t so tough as we sometimes make it.

So…who are you?  You are loved.  You are worthy.  And you are created with a purpose: to do good works in Jesus’ name.

Love God.  Love others.  Be who God created you to be.  And focus on the Lord and the people He places in your path.

What Do You Do With 15,000 Hungry People?

I am from a small Indiana town of around 8,000 people.  That number has fluctuated plus or minus a few hundred every decade since 1940, but has stayed steady at that 8,000 mark for over 75 years now.  (I fact checked these figures on the internet for accuracy.  And, since I found this information on the internet, it must be right.  Right?)

8,000 people does not a big city make.  It seems especially small now that I live in a large metro area of around 1,000,000 citizens.  (No, I did not fact check this number, but I heard it on the news once.)  Still… 8,000 people gathered in one place makes quite a crowd.

Especially when this crowd is following you around, seeking miracles.

Matthew 14:13-21 records the scene where Jesus fed a throng of 5,000 men.

Plus women and children.

In other words, that crowd most likely exceeded the population of my hometown.  It was probably closer to 15,000-20,000 people.

Tired people.

Hungry people.

15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. – Matthew 14:15-20 (ESV)

This place on the shore of the Sea of Galilee had no restaurants.

No inns.

No supermarkets or convenience stores.

Not even a fruit stand.

It was getting dark.  They were getting hungry.  And the disciples felt it best for all involved that Jesus send the crowd away to buy themselves something to eat.

Think about that.  I don’t believe the disciples thought their plan through.  My hometown has two fine supermarkets and numerous mini-marts.  But if all 8,000 showed up at once, I don’t think the bread and fish supply would hold out.

But what was Jesus’ solution for the disciples, the soon-to-be leaders of the first church?

You feed them.”

Five small loaves of unleavened bread and two kippers were all they could gather.  Dinner for one is served.  Now what about the remaining 14,999 hungry and tired seekers?

Then Jesus did what nobody thought possible.  And – with that small morsel of food – not only did everyone have his or her fill, there remained twelve baskets of leftovers.

Of course, if that happened today, the media would start up a scandal.  I can see the headlines now: “Messianic Figure Eschews Suggestion of ‘Disciples’; Cheats Local Merchants Out Of Huge Revenues By Feeding Local Mob Himself”.

The disciples saw the only solution that seemed logical.  Or possible.  “Send them away to fend for themselves.”

But that isn’t Jesus’ plan.

“You feed them.”  You step out in faith and do what seems impossible.  You care for them.  Don’t worry about the details.  Just do what Jesus said to do.

Sometimes we look at our own resources – our abilities, our strengths and weaknesses, our finances, our situation – and we say, “It isn’t enough.”  Either we aren’t good enough, or we feel we have nothing to give.

But, the simple truth is, the results are not our concern.  Bring what the Lord has given you to the table and watch Him multiply what you have to contribute.  Watch Him work through you to reach others, to nourish others (physically and spiritually), to help others.

When the disciples looked only at their own contribution, they saw lack.  Who could possibly do so much with so little?

Today I want to encourage you to step out in faith.  Do something for somebody else.  Use the gifts God gave you.  Encourage someone.  Bless someone.  Don’t worry about failure.  Don’t ponder success.  Give of yourself to someone else today.  Seek to bless (not to be blessed).  Pour yourself out in Jesus’ name with great abandon.  And, in doing so, experience the exhilarating joy of Jesus!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to run to the store before they sell out of sardines and pita bread.





The Fine Art of Letting Go

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:7-11 (ESV)

Nothing trumps “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”.  There is nothing on this earth greater, no calling higher, no motive purer, than knowing our Lord and Savior.  There is absolutely nothing better.

There is a boldness, a peace, a joy that knowing Jesus brings.  This is because – I believe – we begin, in faith, accepting the true definition of reality.  The reality of our eternal lives.  The reality of who we are.  And we are not what the world tells us we are.

At one end of the spectrum lies those who have been built up in ego and stature.  The apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a part of the Jewish ruling class, and a legalist.  He evidently took great pride in prosecuting Christians, who followed a Better Way than the letter of the law.  He was a man blinded to God in his pursuit of legalism.

And the Lord literally blinded Paul to get his attention.

I think of so many high profile Christians who have been built up by people, and who fall.


Before anyone is harsh on any brother or sister, we must remember that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Sin is truly the great equalizer.  It is the plague that infects every human – and always has.

At the other end are those who are not so bold, who live in fear – fear of loss, fear of people, fear of life.  Life lived under a rock is no life at all.

Here is my point in all this: there is nothing on this earth, good or bad, positive or negative, that is going to have any eternal staying power.  At the end of our lives, all the prestige is useless.  All the worry is vain.  All the financial gain or loss is immaterial.

The things we view as important on this earth – success, career, wealth, status, 3.18 kidlets in a beautiful four bedroom rambler with a nice SUV (well, it was nice until those 3.18 little ones littered it with fast food wrappers and dumped milk on the floor which has left a permanent stink in the carpet) – in the end will be useless.

All of our successes, and all of our failures, stay behind when we leave this earth.

Think about it: if we believe in Jesus Christ, then we believe in eternal life.  And if we believe in eternal life, then we realize that this material portion of that life is temporal, and temporary.  And that means that all the stuff of this life – money, position, etc. etc. – is ultimately useless.  And, therefore, of no eternal value.

So where does that leave us?  If all the world has taught us to value in the end has no lasting worth, what do we do?  We follow Paul’s example: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:13b-14, ESV).

We see our successes and failures for what they are, and we move on.  We refuse to let them take hold of us.  Instead, we pursue God.  We follow Jesus.  We strive to seek His will first and foremost.

Only God – and His Word, His Will, His Ways – is eternal.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. – John 1:1-18 (ESV)*

And there it is.  This is Truth.

“I am the way, the truth and the life” Jesus said (John 14:6)+.  Jesus is the way to eternal reality.  Not the stuff that grabs our attention on this earth.  It is Jesus.  It is the love we share in His name, and what we do with the stuff we have, that matters.  It is faith not sight, love not selfish ambition, mercy not harshness, truth not false belief, grace not legalism.

When we begin to follow Christ, we find the folly in our worries and doubts, the guilt in ourselves as we judge others, the freedom to live life in the light of Truth.  We see ourselves, and those around us, for who God says we are (which is to say, who we really are).

And we begin practicing the fine art of letting go of the unimportant while pursuing that which has true eternal worth.


*In John 1, the references to John are about John the Baptist, not John the apostle.

+Humorous side note: when I was on an internet search engine checking the verse reference for John 14:16, I began typing “I am the w…”  At this point autofill kicked in and gave me several options to choose from.  First was “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  The second option: “I am the walrus”.  I am glad I chose correctly.