Stop Worrying -Take a vacation from problems
Take a permanent vacation by refusing to worry about anything! Last Summer, I enjoyed the most wonderful vacation of my lifetime. I had accumulated so many points in my travels as an evangelist, that my wife and I, my daughter and son-in-law and my son were all able to fly virtually free to Orlando Florida. I even had enough points for a free motel for a week! We visited Disney World and Universal Studios. We were together as a family; having a blast at the number one tourist spot in the world (Paris used to be number one, but Orlando is the most visited tourist spot on earth now).
For 14 years, while serving as a full-time evangelist, virtually all our past family "vacations" were "working vacations." I would plan a "revival", for instance, in the New York City area. Then, we could visit sites around the city during the day, and I would be close enough to the church to preach at night. Or, we would fly to the Washington D.C. area for a meeting, and take a few extra days to visit the Capital. This was the first time that either of my children could remember taking a vacation with their father, without him having to do work (stay at the motel making calls and writing pastors, or preaching in the evening). Our last day there, I started having sad feelings about having to end our vacation (I didn't remember experiencing sadness over "fun" coming to an end since I was a youth! I am such a work-a-holic!). That feeling in the pit of my stomach came several times. After carrying this “dread” of everything soon coming to an end, it was then that this message began to bubble up from within. I began to "see" that God wants our daily lives to be like we are on vacation. We don't have to go to "the happiest place on earth" to experience happiness. As God's children, we can be on a fun, care-free vacation all the time. In fact, you have a scriptural right to take a permanent vacation from . . .
1) Take a permanent vacation from worry: During the 1st World War, a 1915 British song called "Pack up your Troubles" became a very popular and morally uplifting song for the soldiers in the war effort. (The word "Lucifer" was a brand of match at that time. The word "fag" was slang for a cigarette: I clarify that or you wouldn't understand the lines.) The song went like this:
Pack up yer troubles in your old kit-bag, & smile, smile, smile,
While you've a Lucifer to light your fag, Smile, boys, that's the
style. What's the use of worrying? It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag, & smile, smile, smile.
I read a cartoon years ago. In it a man was rowing a boat out to sea. His wife was gagged and tied up to her neck in a big bag. He was obviously preparing to dump her in the ocean. He was smiling broadly and the caption had him singing, "Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag and smile, smile, smile." (Ha, ha!) A cold joke for sure, but nevertheless that is exactly what we need to do with our worries and troubles: "pack em' up" and cast them into the sea! That's what the Lord did with our sins in Micah 7:19: "He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." If God can cast our terrible sins into the sea, then we can surely cast our worries there too!
The scriptures teach us to not worry and tell us why: We’ll just make ourselves sick if we worry! . . . Ecclesiastes 11:10 (NLT): "So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy." It is common scientific knowledge that most ailments are psychosomatic: brought on the body by the mind. Stress, fear and worry are major contributors to disease. Many people are literally worrying themselves to death! Mary Crowley said, "Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway." Good idea, isn't it? Don't worry yourself sick!
We are more important to God than plants and plants don't worry! . . . Matthew 6:28: "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin. and yet . . . even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" To quote Robert Elliot, "Rule number one is, 'Don't sweat the small stuff'. Rule number two is 'It's all small stuff!" What were you worrying about 10 years ago today? If it isn't big enough to worry about 10 years from now, is it really big enough to worry about today?
We are specifically commanded by Christ to not worry . . . Luke 12:22: "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life." It's a simple command. Worry only brings unhappiness, anyway, and does nothing to change a problem. "Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy." (Leo Buscaglia). Don’t let worry sap your joy!
We only add to the problem by worrying about it . . . Proverbs 12:25 (NLT): "Worry weighs a person down." Remember, "Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere." (Glenn Turner).
We have a good God who’s taking care of our needs; so our only “worry” should be which food we should eat . . . .
Genesis 39:6 (NLT): "So Potipher gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn't worry about a thing-except what kind of food to eat!" During our vacation in Orlando, our biggest worry was what to eat and whether it would be very good or not. Oh, God help us to learn to live like this daily! "God loves me. He's taking care of all these problems. Hmm, do I want tuna fish or egg salad for lunch?" Hallelujah!
We need only to pray about worries . . . Philippians 4:6 (NLT): "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done." Henry Ward Beecher said, "Every tomorrow has 2 handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith." Which handle are you holding onto today?
The wonderful thing about vacations is that you can leave all your worries behind you for a season. They no longer slap you in the face. Your home is locked up and all the tribulations therein. Your job is miles away. You can truly rest and be refreshed. If you can learn not to worry, when you’re right smack dab in the middle of worrisome things, then you truly can learn to have a permanent vacation at home, at school or on the job. If God said, "Don't worry about anything." He must have meant it. Obey Him! Trust Him. Take a permanent vacation from worry! But, you can only do this if you . . . .
2) Take a permanent vacation from tomorrow’s troubles : Matthew 6:34: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Remember, "Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” Did worrying about it yesterday change one thing? In one of Charles Schultz’s cartoons, Charlie Brown said, “I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time.” Don’t dread tomorrow; no! Rather enjoy one day at a time.
My mother was a great worrier. And, as a young man, I learned to worry about a lot of things too. It was the summer of 1967. I was in between my freshman and sophomore year of Bible College. My girlfriend Mary and I had broken up and I no longer felt “led” to attend her church. I was trying to find my next “home church.” I was trying to find my next “girlfriend.” I didn’t know what my next “ministry” would be either. But, at a Summer youth camp that year, Jack Hayford was one of the speakers. He taught a class of us “leaders” one morning and shared with us a song he had written. It was a simple tune using the words of Psalms 25:4-5. It’s a prayer sung to the Lord that He might, “Show me Your ways, O Lord. Teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me.” I never forgot that song and have sung it frequently through the years as I strive to understand and walk in His will for me and contend to trust Him for it.
That week 43 years ago this very summer, I met a cute girl at camp and worried about how to win her over to me (I forget her name after these many years: another example of how frivolous worry is). I “fell in love” with her (as I always did with every new girlfriend back then!). I started attending her church to try to draw closer to her. But, she had an old boyfriend that she couldn’t get over and so our relationship never got off the ground (I bet she’s sorry now!!!!). My relationship with my girlfriend was kaput. My “home church” was too far away to drive anyway. I was floundering. I had reason to worry. I truly needed God to “Show me His ways.” I soon discovered that this worrisome situation was but one of the Lord’s opportunities to show me His love and care for His children in the most poignant way I’d ever experienced up to that point.
I was working at the time for Full Gospel Business Men’s fellowship in downtown Los Angeles (only a few miles from my LIFE Bible College campus, across the street from Echo Park). At work one day, a female work-mate there asked me for a favor. She had a borrowed real estate sign that belonged to someone who lived in Ontario. Since I lived in Ontario, she asked me if I wouldn’t mind returning it to the owner for her. I was happy to do so and put the sign in my car. That evening, when I knocked on the door with the sign in my hand, I was unexpectedly greeted by two teenagers whom I had “happened” to have met at camp that very Summer. They invited me in. As we visited, they told me that their youth leader at their home church, Upland Foursquare Church, had resigned and was soon leaving and suggested that I should consider taking the position. I was only 18 at the time. My mother hadn’t been in church fellowship for many years, but that summer had rededicated her life to the Lord while visiting a service where I was preaching in the Los Angeles area. My mom said that if I started attending that church in Upland (a city immediately adjacent to Ontario where we lived: I was born there too) that she would attend there with me. To make a long story short, I became the youth leader there in Upland and worked with the youth for 3-1/2 years. It was a very fruitful time as many youth found Christ, I met my future wife, Kathy, at the church and I learned to preach by preaching to those young people. All my mom’s and my worries during that time were wasted. God truly had everything under His control and guidance.
My life is His-story. And, for 44 years, He has historically been guiding me all the way. Should I start worrying now? Hebrews 13:5: “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’" He didn’t leave me floundering 43 years ago. He certainly won’t now! Psalms 37:25: “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.” If He didn’t forsake me when I was 18, He won’t do it now that I’m 61!” Whether you are 18 or 61, your future is “as bright as the promises of God.” He promised to “never forsake you.” Believe it and put all your troubles and worries into His Hands. As 1 Peter 5:7 says: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Kneel in prayer and simply and literally “cast” all your care on Him and forget about your troubling concerns. Start your vacation from tomorrow’s troubles now!
3) Take a permanent vacation from problems: Harold Stephens said, “There is a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.” We need to learn to take a vacation from worrying about problems, and simply be concerned enough to solve the problem.
In the movie, “What About Bob,” the psychiatrist, played by Richard Dreyfuss is trying to help the terribly paranoid Bob, played by Bill Murray, to overcome his many fears. The Dr. is on vacation, but Bob wants and needs his help immediately, so he sneakily discovers where the Dr. is vacationing and looks him up seeking his help. So, trying to get rid of him, the Dr. writes Bob out a “prescription” to “take a vacation” from all his problems. In the movie, the lines go something like this:
Psychiatrist: “Problems don't go away just because I go. Bob, I'd like you to ... take a long look around you. What does everything you see here have in common? Vacation, Bob, Vacation. Now, Bob, I can't at this time give you the kind of therapy you need to solve all your problems and you know why?”
Bob: “You're on vacation!”
Psychiatrist: “Exactly! What I can do, is, this. . .”
Bob: “Don't give me pills! I already have plenty!”
Psychiatrist: “This is not pills! (He hands Bob the handwritten prescription and tells him) Read It!” (Bob takes the note to read)
Bob: “It says, ‘Take a vacation from my problems’.
Psychiatrist: “I give you a permission to take a vacation from your problems! Not a vacation from your work, not a vacation from daily life. “ Bob: “But a vacation from my problems.”
Psychiatrist: “Exactly! And now I want you to get on that bus and go back to New York.”
Psychiatrist: “Every single time a problem arises, I want you to take that prescription out and follow it to the letter, Doctor's orders. I’ll see you in New York, in my office in one month.”
Bob: “This is incredible! This is a step on me! For the first time since ever, I feel free! You gave me a great gift Doctor! The gift of life! I knew coming right here was the right thing to do...”
Psychiatrist: “It feels right because you are here and it feels right because you're leaving.”
Bob: “Have a great vacation!”
Psychiatrist: “You too Bob.”
Bob: “The vacation from my problems!” (end)
Of course, the whole movie is about Bob repeatedly imposing on the Dr’s vacation until he drives the doctor crazy. It’s a good movie; however, it is just a movie. But, what if God Himself actually wrote you a prescription to “Take a vacation?” Would that encourage you? Would you do so? Well, He has given us each a prescription in the Word of God to “Take a vacation from your problems.” Let’s read His prescription more carefully: Romans 5:3 (NLT) “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.” We can be happy when we run into problems. Paul learned this truth. His life was full of problems. Read the life of David. He had as difficult a life as anyone reading this. At times, he despaired. The Psalms are filled with his lamentations, such as in Psalms 25:17 (NLT): “My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all!” David, like all of us, didn’t like his problems! But, they drove Him to God and they drove him to his knees. So, for that purpose, problems became a blessing. Out of David’s problems came the wonderful Psalms 25:4-5: “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.” (A song I now sing!)
Stop looking at problems as some horrible thing to be all shook up about. See them as God-given opportunities to learn how to trust Him and to find the way out of problems by prayer and the Word. Take a permanent vacation from problems by seeing them as potentials: potentials to make your life more enjoyable by learning to solve them. We can learn from ancient David the psalmist. And, we can learn from a present day David: David Ring. He has cerebral palsy. He’s hard to understand. He walks funny. Some people mistakenly think he is mentally retarded. They said he could never preach. But, he preaches to over 100,000 people a year. They said he would never get married. But he’s now married (to a lovely woman), and has four children. They said he could never make it as an evangelist. But, he received 700 invitations to preach in just one year alone. He answered the call and now has one of the most unique ministries in America: bringing hope to the hopeless. It’s hard for him to walk. It’s hard for him to eat. It is hard for him to talk. He often ends his sermons with this statement: “I have cerebral palsy. What’s your problem?” (Google “David Ring” and listen to his preaching. It is very inspiring!)
A woman in my church in Hawaiian Gardens buried three husbands (two to cancer and one to heart disease) and three children, from three separate car accidents. But, what’s your problem? Job lost everything he had and 10 children in one day! What’s your problem? We don’t have a problem, relatively speaking! If we do, we should learn from Paul who was constantly buffeted by demons, men and circumstances. This was his thorn (not sickness!). Like us, he asked God to deliver him and make life easier for him. But God “said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ might rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in (took a vacation during) necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake, for when I am week, then am I strong.” (II Cor. 12:8-10 KJV). The NLT translates verse 10: “That’s why I take highly competitive, ambitious, business-like, aggressive, having difficulty relaxing; and are sometimes disliked by individuals with Type B personalities for the way that they're always rushing. They are often high-achieving workaholics who multi-task <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_multitasking>, drive themselves with deadlines, and are unhappy about delays. Because of these characteristics, Type A individuals are often described as "stress junkies." Type B individuals, in contrast, are described as patient, relaxed, and easy-going under-achievers, generally lacking any sense of urgency.”
Type A’s are not all bad and type B’s all good. They both have their God-given strengths and human weaknesses. Type B’s often need to be “shoved” into working harder for the Lord. And, I believe God made me a Type A because my ministry requires the utmost energy. However, hurrying and leaning on my own abilities instead of trusting God is one of the weaknesses that I and many Type A persons tend to wrestle with.
The Word has much to say about hurrying . . .
Isaiah 52:12 (NLT): “You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the Lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.” If the people of God don’t have to hurry even to run for their own lives, then how much less do we need to hurry when our lives aren’t at stake?
1 Timothy 5:22 (NLT): “Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader." This is a warning to not make quick decisions when it involves other people, especially before you know them well enough to trust. Trust is never given freely; even to fellow believers. Trust is only earned, by time and by tests.
Proverbs 21:5: “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” This verse warns us that we need to be very slow to make career decisions. In today’s economy, what major you choose in college or what company you choose to work for could make the difference in being blessed or being broke.
Ecclesiastes 8:3: “Do not be hasty to go from His presence.” Perhaps the biggest mistake that Christians make is not hurrying down the highway, but rather “hurrying” away from a time of prayer. Martin Luther once had a very, very demanding and busy day ahead of him. He said, “I’ve got so much to do today, that I have to start it out with 2 hours of prayer.” Perhaps this is what the Lord was talking about when He said, “Seek first (in time and in priority) the kingdom of God . . . And all these (material things; like jobs or careers) shall be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33)
Proverbs 28:20 (NLT): “The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble.” Slowly seek God for where to invest your money. This verse reveals that it is more important for the Lord to be able to trust you with money, than for you to have lots of it. Christians who aren’t proven trustworthy (to tithe, to share their successes generously, to continue to seek the Lord first) can’t expect riches!
Proverbs 28:22 (NLT): “Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.” Many are saying that it was “greed” that caused the housing meltdown: speculators hurriedly buying up homes right and left, convinced home values would continue to rapidly rise for get-rich-quick results. As Solomon wrote, however, they were just “headed for poverty.”
Isaiah 28:16: “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.’” Every time we hurry; every time we honk our horn; every time we double our fleshly efforts because we think it won’t get done without our hurried attention: we’re revealing our unbelief. Jesus never hurried: not once! Yet He could claim, “I have finished the work which you have given me to do.” John 17:4. Stress is a direct result of hurrying and worrying that “it” will only happen if you “hurry it and worry it” along. All my hurrying for 61 years, and guess what: I’m not any further along than where I would have been if I hadn’t hurried! I’m sitting at my desk in Corona, California. It’s 9:47 AM. Had I relaxed and taken my time and enjoyed this life-long journey, I’d still be sitting right here at 9:47 AM. Hurrying didn’t change the clock one tick and didn’t change my ultimate geographical location (but, it surely took its toll on my body and on my impact on this planet!).
For some (now in heaven or hell), their hurrying did change their location at that moment of impact on the freeway! If hurrying doesn’t help, than why hurry? If stressing doesn’t stretch your effectiveness, why stress at all? I am already a different person since I made the decision to overcome hurrying: this most negative effect of being a Type A person. My wife is happier. I’m happier. The Lord’s happier. I haven’t “arrived yet” but I am committed to this patient journey. Accept my testimony and teaching. Slow Down: that way, we’ll both live longer and enjoy it more. Just remember this law of physics: Speed kills! And, remember the law of God, “Whoever believes will not act hastily.” (Isaiah 28:16). So, take a permanent vacation: from worry, from tomorrow’s troubles, from problems, and from hurry! Make your home and your life the happiest place on earth!