Whenever you hear or see the words “just sit back and relax, this will be over in just a minute” in a doctor’s office, you’re in trouble. Every time I’ve heard a doctor say that kind of thing, it’s been a preparatory pep talk for something unpleasant. When he or she says it with rubber gloves in hand, it’s usually a good time to leave the room!
I was sitting in the doctor’s office yesterday, on my semi-annual antihistamine pilgrimage, when I noticed a phrase of that type on an informational brochure. “Sit back and relax” the brochure cooed, “And enjoy your Bone Densitometry Examination.” Just the fifty-dollar phrase “Bone Densitometry Examination” would strike fear in MY heart. The pamphlet showed someone’s grandmother stretched out in a machine that looked like something aliens would use to examine your innards. She was smiling and looked happy, just like the smiling, artificial lab techs who were standing nearby. The machine and procedure isn’t really invasive—it just scans the patient’s bone structure—but somehow, it doesn’t look like something most folks would enjoy doing as recreational activity. Anyone who would needs to get out more.
Yet, there is something to be said for relaxation in that setting. I’ve gone for a few joyrides through similar medical testing devices, and without fail, they want the patient to stay still. That sounds easy in theory, but it can be a real challenge if you’re nervous and a little fidgety. The more nervous you are, and the more you fidget, the longer you have to stay in the contraption. It’s a nasty cycle that sometimes calls for a little sedative treatment prior to testing.
It’s not just medical tests that make folks nervous. We all have our favorite ‘hot button’ situations that will trip our worry trigger and make us start fussing inside. We mask that fussing and worry well at times, but we’ve certainly got it—and worry is one of the worst enemies we can have, if it gets out of hand. Jesus stated this principle quite directly in Luke 12:
“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (Luke 12: 25-31, NNAS)
Jesus isn’t encouraging passive, apathetic inaction. Quite the contrary, actually—throughout the Gospels, Jesus distinctly calls men and women to definitive, faith-based action. His point here deals with the total waste of time and energy that accompanies pointless worry. The heart of the message is simple: God knows you have needs, knows better than you do what those needs are, and wants to meet those needs, if you will allow him to do so. Faith and worry are mutually exclusive—it’s hard to exercise faith when you’re worried and fearful about what will happen if God doesn’t come through for you. Fear and faith mix like water and oil—try though you might, fear always rises to the top and keeps faith on the bottom. When we can finally get our hands and hearts around the simple but profound truth that God actually loves us—God actually loves YOU—then we can demonstrate that “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”(1 John 4:18a) When you know that God loves you and really WILL take care of you, you can replace your worry and fear with a much more positive and powerful mind set—looking forward to what God’s gonna do next to meet your needs.
So, sit back and relax, whatever you’re going through today, God really WILL take care of you—IF you let Him.