Welcome to this week’s blog. I’m Lee Harder the senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bulverde, Texas, known as the Red Roof Church. I would like to invite you to join us for worship this Sunday and every Sunday at either 8:30AM for a traditional worship celebration or at 10:45AM for our contemporary worship. I promise you’ll hear about Christ. I hope you’ll check us out.
It’s been one of those weeks and I couldn’t help but remember an old magazine I read as a kid, MAD magazine, with its iconic image of Alfred E. Newman and his “What, me worry?” You remember, the fictitious mascot and cover boy of that American humor magazine. The character's distinct face, with his parted red hair, gap-tooth smile, freckles, protruding nose, and scrawny body was to be found on the cover of every issue.
There are a number of different definitions one can assign to the phrase “What, me worry?” For example:
1. As an interrogatory, indicative of a nonchalant attitude towards potential criticism, not caring about what other people think, confident and self-possessed.
2. Someone who doesn't care about anything.
Well, I don’t know anybody who isn’t a little concerned about what others think even if they are confident. Likewise, I pity anyone who doesn’t care about anything, but I suppose there are some. So, we worry, at least a little and sometimes a lot.
Worry is one of the most pervasive things we face in life. It consumes some of us and effects nearly all of us in some way. We worry about all sorts of things, small and large in our lives. We worry about the world; wars, immorality, famine and hunger, disease, oil prices and the world-wide financial crisis. We worry about things in our individual lives; our finances, our children, our spouses, our health. And we worry about very mundane things like the expiration dates on the milk and eggs in our refrigerators.
On the subject of worry Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-27 — "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” A moment later in Matthew 6:34 Jesus added, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Boy, is He right, but how to implement is the issue.
The trouble is putting the worry aside. It’s easier said than done. Oh, I’ve counseled many a soul about how they must put aside their worry and give it to God. I just can’t do it with the success I would like. Some days I’m better at it than others, but there are THOSE days which always come. Maybe it’s because of my role as a pastor. It’s not easy being the smartest man in the universe which seems to go with the job. (Believe me when I say I KNOW I’M NOT that smart. Not even close. Unfortunately, people in a congregation, every congregation, too often think the pastor is supposed to have all the answers to all the questions. You know, the problem solver.) In addition, when issues come up that can cause difficulties, challenges or create tension to a body of believers, I worry. It’s not easy for a confident, control freak, in charge kind of guy like me to let go. I’m suppose to have the answers, so I review all the possibilities and worry that I didn’t do enough.
It’s a big challenge to turn these things over to God. Does this mean we should not worry? As humans, I don’t think we have the capacity to not worry. It is how we respond to the situations that cause our worries that makes all the difference.
When we allow our worries to consume us, to overshadow all else, we are taken off the narrow path that Jesus wants us to walk following Him. Satan is eager to take such consuming worries to do his work. This can lead to anxiety and depression. It can cause us to make foolish decisions. It can drive a wedge between spouses, between people in a congregation and between us and God.
Or we can take those things that cause our worries to God in prayer. We can turn things in our lives over to Him. It takes practice and I’m still learning. I never seem to run out of opportunities to engage in a new lesson to learn.
Turning things over to God instead of fretting and worrying about them does not give us free license to do whatever we want. Turning over control means following our Lord Jesus, doing His will. And we have to do our part by preparation to head off such situations. God does help those who help themselves. Where we run into problems here is when we think we are helping God instead of the other way around, God guiding us to do the right things.
So, perhaps Alfred E. Newman only got it part right with his “What, me worry?” It’s how we handle worries when they occur that matters, along with leading lives that prevent those situations that cause worry.
So, if you’re worried about the expiration dates on the milk and eggs…make an omelet! For the significant worries in our lives, pray. Turn your life over and follow the Spirit’s guidance. Advice I will try to apply to myself.
And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a good week.
Pastor Lee R. Harder