I’m not a superstitious person. I don’t spy a devil under every bush, or an angel, either, for that matter. But I do love the unexpected God flashes that make my spirit smile, stretch and say ahhhh. The kind that appear at just the right moment to punctuate joy or embolden courage or hearten despair.
The latest of these sweet, simple surprises came in the form of a recent fortune cookie message that read, “No worries. You will have all you need.”
I believe that statement in the big picture, theological sense. I admit my prayers are largely focused on asking God to supply what I identify as “needs.” Many of those involve Bethesda Workshops, which is planning a visioning retreat in late January to brainstorm about the ministry’s needs for the next 20 years. Our own space? Additional staff? Increased donations for funding scholarships? Ways to maximize our strengths and improve our weaknesses? Strategic marketing? A developed program for alumni?
Some of the needs that keep me awake at night are more personal. Health and wellbeing for myself and those I love, healing for strained relationships, better discernment, more effective leadership, protection from burnout, and myriad other concerns.
For whatever reason, the slightly smudged type on a random strip of paper pulled from a Chinese treat altered my focus. Instead of fretting about needs, I noticed the simple declaration, “No worries.” It’s an invitation, really.
While I theoretically believe God’s promise about meeting my needs, my intellectual assent does little to assuage my worry. Whether the root is genetics, environment, or probably a combination of both, my worry button is stubbornly stuck in the On position. Years of therapy, a supportive community, good self-care and spiritual disciplines knock the lever intoNeutral for periods of time, but it easily slides back into overdrive.
As I step into a new year, I’m choosing to start each day with a different prayer that’s focused more on God and less on my needs. A prayer that ultimately is about the most important need: a deeper ability (perhaps more accurately, a deeper willingness) to trust God. I need more faith, not more provisions. After two decades of trying to reset my worry button, I am convinced that I can’t muster this attitude of No Worries by my own striving. I must trust God for the most basic provision of faith itself.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12: 25-26). “Do not be anxious about anything …but 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 (Philippians 4: 6-7).
Through the unexpected messenger of a fortune cookie, I’m reminded of the truth of the Bible, and for the moment, my worries ease. It’s a good start.
Marnie C. Ferree