I am one who has had a tendency to worry a lot about everything: my relationship, my academics, my career (these have been a common theme in the past few blog posts…see a trend?). Proud and delighted to say that I worry significantly less about things now than I used to, I can credit my lack of worry now only to an increased trust in God. As I’ve mentioned before, the Lord has made me completely new, and I see a stark difference between the old and new me’s. As far as worrying is concerned, the old me worried herself to death about all kinds of things, failing to ever look to God for peace. Now — living as a new creation in Christ — I trust that the Lord will make clear the paths He has set out very specifically for me. I can tell, however, that when I stray from Christ and spend less time with Him, the things that characterized my old self begin to take root in my life once again, including worry.
Without getting into specific details, I will share that in recent days I humored a recurring worry that the Lord has freed me from, one that I habitually fall back into when I am far from Him. I began working through it and, very gradually, I raised it closer and closer to the Lord, eventually placing it in His hands once again. ***Side note: it is continually mind-blowing to me how God can take something that’s been consuming every portion of our minds for so long and immediately wipe the worry from our minds. It’s quite literally inexplicable, and when an explanation is attempted it sounds trivial. However, I know that it would not — could not — happen outside of God.***
Two nights ago, following my surrender of this particular worry, I asked the Lord to reveal something to me through a dream. It’s a habit I’ve practiced ever since I attended Leadership Retreat with UNC Charlotte’s InterVarsity Chapter where campus pastor Brent Campbell explained it quite simply: “The Lord did not create sleep so that we could be apart from Him. Invite Him into your dreams; ask Him to meet you there.” Sometimes the dreams have meaning that is very obvious, sometimes it is necessary that we ask the Lord for interpretation, sometimes the dreams have no meaning, and sometimes we don’t even have dreams. We just trust that the Lord knows what we’ve asked and that there is a reason for whatever He gives us.
Back to my story. I had a dream that night: Alex (my boyfriend) and I were rowing down a little, slowly-paced river in Florida. We sat face-to-face, my back facing downstream, the four oars divided between the two of us. As we rowed I took in the beautiful surrounding scenery, gazing this way and that, turning to and fro. When I turned to look over my right shoulder, I saw an alligator that reached maybe four feet in length floating in the water (I find this next part to slightly ironic; I think God is just laughing at me at this point. Feel free to laugh along). When my eyes landed on the small alligator and my brain processed what it was, I freaked out. Functioning in a blur of fear and insanity at the mere sight of this slight creature, I somehow began rocking the dingy back and forth, stirring up the previously calm water and, I’m sure, all of its inhabitants. I ended up flailing around so much that I fell out of the boat and into the water in which the disinterested alligator lurked. Soaking wet and still losing my mind, I attempted to clamber up the side of the tiny vessel, soaking Alex in the process. For some reason, though, I never managed to get back in the boat. We both agreed to reconvene on the bank, assessing the situation from there. I swam for my life from the center of the narrow river to the bank, pressing the boat along the same route.
Everything that happened after that is irrelevant to this message. It was this part for which I asked interpretation of the Lord, and boy did He give it. If you’re done laughing at the thought of me being terrified of an alligator, I’d like to share how the Lord spoke to me through that, even though I still don’t understand why He felt it necessary to send the message that way…
God shared some pretty cool relationship advice through it, but more impactful to me was His message about worrying. He told me, “Kerrington, when you worry about ‘what-if’s’ and hypothetical things that may or may not happen in the future — things that pose immediate no threat, like the small alligator minding its own business — you are literally THROWING yourself into the water in which that worry swims.”
That’s applicable to every single one of us. When we give attention to the things that grip us with worry — if you’re reading this and something has come to the forefront of your mind, that is what the Lord is trying to bring up for you — we are literally flinging ourselves from the safety of the boat into the place where that worry lives. If left alone, if our trust is completely in God, then we will be safe aboard the boat. It is when we see the alligator — the worry — and all of the things an alligator has the potential to do that we become so caught up in the potential that we no longer recognize the reality that we are safe in the Lord’s arms.
I will be the first to say that it seems a lot harder than it sounds. Just giving something I’ve been worrying about to the Lord? How is that even done? It takes a lot. Sometimes we feel comfortable in the worry because it’s familiar. Shoot, I’m still trying to figure out what it means to live as a new creation in Christ, too! I carried the former qualities with me for so long that it really is a complete change that I’ve been adjusting to. But when the Lord does free you from this struggle, it will be incredibly rewarding and quite literally freeing. I just want to encourage whoever is reading this to not give up; ask the Lord to free you from this worry. Give it to Him. I know that’s vague, but here are some ways that I have “given _____ to the Lord” in the past, just to make it a little more clear:
Don’t give up praying and asking the Lord to show up in your life because He absolutely will. And I can attest firsthand to the fact that He can and will inexplicably, immediately free you from that which weighs you down most. After He does, it’s your turn to demonstrate your faithfulness to Him by trusting Him over it.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions about what any of this means or about how this may apply to your own life.
1 Thess. 2:2
"...but with the help of our God we dared to tell His gospel in the face of strong opposition."