Straight from an Apprehensive Heart
By Lisa Elliott
I’ve never been a great decision maker. At the same time, I know what I like when I see it. How do these things go together, you ask? One recollection I have goes back to the time I wanted to paint my living room. The colour of choice was a beautiful, deep, dramatic country red. I loved the colour from the moment I saw it and knew that it would be the perfect accent to my house. However, if you can believe it, it took me a year before I put it on my walls. Even then, I had to leave the house while my husband painted. Why? You ask. There was something that felt permanent about my decision. I knew that once I put it on my walls there was no turning back. I was committed. Besides, my husband would not have been thrilled about painting the room all over again in a different colour once he’d finished, not to mention, the additional cost.
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about the permanence of a decision that scares me off. I don’t want to make a wrong choice and regret it for the rest of my life. As a result, the decision-making process takes me down a trail of “what ifs.” What if I don’t like it? What if I make a mistake? What if I have to live with the consequences of my choice for the rest of my life? That’s where I can oftentimes get stuck.
That’s where the Israelites got stuck as well. When the spies came back with a report of Canaan, fear and anxiety stood in the pathway to the Promised Land. Regardless of what Joshua and Caleb declared. What if there were giants in the land? What if God didn’t provide as He said He would? What if the land of milk and honey turned out to be sour grapes?
Here’s something to consider. What if the decision we make is the best one we’ve ever made? What if everything we feared turned into a farce? After all, eighty percent of what we worry about never happens. What if the fear we’re facing keeps us from all that God has in store for us? Instead of painting the worst case scenario, why not trust in the God who holds the future and has a plan for our good, not our demise. Instead of wasting precious time worrying, why not spend it living in the moment. Celebrating and rejoicing in all of God’s provisions rather than focusing on things that are not yet and may never come to pass.
Some of the first Bible verses I put to memory were, Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV), “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” According to these verses here are five simple, but practical ways I’ve learned to ward of worry:
- Prayer – honest communication with the God who knows and holds the future.
- Petition – lay out all the things that weigh heavily on our heart.
- Praise – list all the things we have to be thankful for.
- Presentation – exchange our worries for submission to God’s will.
- Peace – the product of our exchange.
There are way more important decisions that I’ve had to make in my life than a paint colour. Not all of them have been perfect. However, the Lord has directed and even redirected my steps as I’ve put my trust in Him. And, for the record, I never once regretted my decision to paint my living room red.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34, NIV).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple, Dancing in the Rain, and A Ministry Survival Guide. She’s also a writer for Just Between Us Magazine, theStory, and Good Ground. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (three on earth, one in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, ON, Canada.