By Jarrett Stevens, Crosswalk.com
I learned to snowboard when the sport was still very new. The gear was terrible, and most ski resorts looked down on snowboarders. If we wanted to learn, we just had to figure it out. Not so today. Our kids learned to snowboard at ages seven and nine! My wife and I enrolled them in snowboard school for a day, and they took to it like a fish takes to water (or, in this case, snow).
One of their big lessons was about turning, which, as I’ve learned the hard way, is important in snowboarding. The instructor taught them that the key to turning on a snowboard is turning your head. Turn your head and shoulders to the right, and your body and board will follow. Turn your head and shoulders to the left, and you can expect your body and board to do the same.
Basically, your attention determines your direction.
Where you keep looking is where you end up going. This is an invaluable lesson not only for snowboarding but also for anytime you find yourself worrying. If you find yourself thrown off-course, or even swept away, by worries that can lead you toward debilitating fear, focusing on some key truths can help you stay the course.
Here are 4 practical steps to help you transform your worrying into worshipping:
1. Remember That Your Focus Determines Your Direction
Anytime your heart and mind are fixed and focused on the one thousand things that you ultimately have no control over, you are determining the direction of your life. Your life eventually becomes all about the things you worry about. They end up occupying your thoughts, decisions, and actions.
And often in the end, all your worrying and getting worked up only leaves you empty-handed and brokenhearted.
But this principle works the other way as well. Focus your attention on Jesus. Make him the one you look to and look for. Fix your heart and mind on him, and your life will follow. Your attention will determine your direction. When you start with and stay with Jesus as the object of your affection and attention, your life will be drawn more and more to him.
Looking for and looking to Jesus turns your worry to worship.
This is God’s invitation to you. He not only wants to give you your life back but also wants to give you real life. A life rooted in worship rather than worry.
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2. ‘Do Not Be Anxious About Anything’ by Praying
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes:
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.
“Do not be anxious about anything.” Easier said than done. And not something you necessarily want to hear when you’re wound up in worry. But God is offering you another way: A gentler way. A kinder way. A way that leads to peace.
When you find yourself beginning to meditate in the wrong direction, he invites you to redirect your thoughts and fears to him. Turn your inner monologue into an open dialogue with God. Let him in by bringing your worry into the light.
The simplest way to do it is to just tell him what you’re worrying about in that moment, however big or small it may be.
“God, I’m worried about where our kids are going to go to school.”
“God, I am tied up in knots over the state of our nation.”
“God, I’m worried sick over my mom being in the hospital right now.”
3. Name Your Worry and Ask for God’s Help
Name what’s going on in your heart before it stakes its claim on your heart. And then as you do, transform your anxiousness into asking.
“God, will you give us the wisdom to know what to do with our kids’ schooling? Please help us remember that you’ve taken care of them every day of their lives.”
“God, I pray for our leaders, that they will seek and find your wisdom today. And will you show me how I can shine a little of the light of your love in my world today?”
“God, will you protect and heal my mom? Will you calm her fears and mine? Will you guide the doctors and all those who are caring for her today?”
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Iyan Kurnia
4. Turn Your Worry into Worship
And then in the next breath, turn your worry into worship. Philippians 4 calls this “thanksgiving.” We’ve discussed it at length earlier in the book, but for the sake of this conversation, it can look something like this:
“God, thank you that you are in control. I’m so grateful that you hold not only the future but also my kids’ futures in your hands.”
“God, thank you for your Kingdom, which is greater than any nation. Thank you that I have a perspective far greater than politics and that whatever comes my way, you are never surprised and always in control.”
“God, thank you for my mom. Thank you for all the ways that she’s cared for me. And thank you that in this season, you’re inviting me to care for her.”
You can make a shift in a moment. You can change the direction of your attention back to God. You can go from heavy to light. From beaten down to filled up. From worry to worship.
And as you do, God promises that he will give you something far greater in exchange: He will give you peace. Peace to guide you. Peace to guard you. Peace to cover you. Peace to carry you. He’ll replace the hours wasted in worry with greater purpose and peace.
Editor's note: this adapted excerpt is published with permission from Praying Through by Jarrett Stevens, published by NavPress. Copyright 2020, Jarrett Stevens.
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Jarrett Stevens is a pastor, writer, and speaker. He and his wife, Jeanne, are the founding partners of Soul City Church, a thriving church on Chicago’s west side. They do life with two children, Elijah and Gigi, and two endlessly energetic dogs, Moses and Louie. Jarrett is the author of several books, including Praying Through, Four Small Words, and The Deity Formerly Known as God. Connect with him online at jarrettstevens.com.