Friday, August 26, 2011

The Cost of Worry

My first quarter of worker retraining officially ended today.

I got to school a little before 9:00, and a few minutes later, I was in the library working on my final project for my graphic design class, which was due at 1:30. As the library has an earlier version of InDesign than the classroom, I could only do part of it in the library. Fortunately, the classroom had extra lab hours today, starting at 11:00. Unfortunately, I had a math final at 11:30. I went to the graphic design classroom at 11:00 to get at least something done with my project. The lab tech wasn't there and the room was locked. After waiting about 20 minutes, I finally had to go in order to get to my math final on time.

So with no progress made on the project since leaving the library, I took my math test. It was taking longer than I was hoping for it to take, and the longer it took, the more worried I got. Suddenly, Luke 12:25 popped into my head (I love how God does that!):

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?"

The irony of it all! Here I was wanting more time to do my graphic design project, and worrying that my math final would take too long! I was constantly glancing at my watch (I finally had to take it off and put it on the table face-down), and the more I worried, the harder it was to think, and the more worried I got as a result. It's a vicious cycle. I wonder how long my math test would have taken if I hadn't been worried in the first place.

When I finally finished my test, I rushed back to the graphic design classroom, and (thankfully) the room was open by that point. I had about 20 minutes to finish my project and get it printed. I was getting to the panic stage. Needless to say, I got the project in, but it was not in color as it was supposed to be (no time to print it on the right printer). When I handed it to my teacher, I told him I had come at 11:00, and the lab tech wasn't there. He apologized for that, and he later told me that he would look at the color version on the computer (we also turned in a soft copy over the server). Knock on wood, thanks to the lab tech's mistake that was out of my control, I won't be docked for turning it in a few minutes late and in black and white. But I wonder if I would have been able to get it in sooner, had I let go of my worry and taken care of what I could control. It certainly did not add an hour, and my worry actually WASTED time.

Another lesson learned that had nothing (and everything) to do with math or graphic design.

Monday, August 22, 2011


1 Peter 5:7 has always been one of my favorite verses. Peter challenges the churches he is writing to to "cast all your anxieties upon Him, for He cares for you." I especially like the Phillips translation: "You can throw the whole weight of your anxiety on Him, for you are His personal concern." It amazes me that the Almighty God cares for me individually and would bend to take care of everything that worries me.

More recently, I have gotten to know the Louis Segond version (in French), which says, " déchargez-vous sur lui de tous vos soucis, car lui-même prend soin de vous." (literally "...and unload yourselves on Him of all your worries, for He Himself takes care of you.") When I first saw that translation, I took note of it because it's one of my favorite verses, but didn't think much of the differences in meaning between French and English. Then a few years later, I realized that the French verb décharger means "to unload", rather than "to cast" or "to throw" (although unloading does often involve a throwing action). I thought that was interesting. Then, later, I pointed that out to my friend Jerri, who shed new light on it. She commented that, coming from a farming background, the idea of unloading brought to her mind an image of driving a pickup with heavy machinery, then unloading it and being able to sail. I love that image. Then a couple weeks ago, I thought further about it, and it occurred to me that the word "unload" carries more connotations than I had realized. At least in English (not sure if this applies to French or not), the word "unload", when referring to worries, can also mean pouring your heart out to someone, telling them everything that's worrying you. In the past, I always interpreted the verse to mean that I should just pray to God and ask Him to take away my worries. I realized that it can also mean to unload my worries on Him, to pour out my heart. I know from experience that doing that with anyone that I know I can trust is a powerful thing.

Just now, I decided to look into the Greek version:

πασαν την μεριμναν υμων επιρριψαντες επ αυτον οτι αυτω μελει περι υμων.

Apparently, the word πιρίψαντες (epiripsantes) only appears twice in the New Testament. The other occurrence is in Luke 19:35, when Jesus’ disciples threw their clothes on the donkey’s back so He could sit on it in order to enter Jerusalem. The way it is conjugated, the word means “having thrown.” But in a way, even in the verse in Luke, they took their cloaks off of themselves to put them on the donkey for Jesus. That’s also, to an extent, unloading.

I’m not sure if Peter had the idea of unloading in his mind when he wrote it, but I love that image, and I think it is more powerful than just asking God to take away our worries. Don’t get me wrong, He is happy to do that if we ask Him, but unloading ourselves onto Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, can be a powerful tool. Even just talking out what we are worried about, and listening for His response, can go a long way to helping us through the pain of whatever we’re going through. Whether or not we have another human around to share with, God is always there, and He loves it when we share our worries and concerns with Him. He can help put things in perspective, help us to lean on Him, and take away a lot of the worry.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet

Today's Sunday school lesson...a paraphrase of John 13:

It was Passover time in Jerusalem, and the city was crowded. The Jews celebrated it every year to remember how God led the children of Israel out of slavery so many centuries earlier. Sunday was an exciting day. Riding on a donkey, Jesus led His twelve disciples into the city, and the crowd went wild! They were so excited to see the One who had been promised ever since the time of Adam and Eve. A lot had happened since then, and Israel had lived as a Kingdom for a while, but then the nation went back into slavery. The first time, they were slaves in Egypt to the southwest. The second time, they were slaves in Babylon and Assyria to the east. God delivered them from that slavery as well, but they were never the same. Before they knew it, a new kingdom called Rome took over, and their Emperor Caesar was not the nicest guy to be around. Herod, the governor he had appointed, was also pretty bad. (Herod’s dad had actually tried to have Jesus killed when Jesus was a baby!) Not only that, but the Jewish Priests and teachers had looked at the Law that God gave Moses, and they had added a bunch of extra laws, which got harder and harder to keep.

For centuries, the prophets had told Israel that a Messiah would come and deliver them from their bondage once and for all. So now, Sunday was the first day of the week of Passover. Just as the prophets had said, Jesus had finally come, and the people could hardly contain their joy! They laid down coats and palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna! Save us! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”Some of these people had seen Jesus raise His friend Lazarus from the dead a few days earlier, and they were pumped!

The next few days, Jesus taught the crowds and His disciples a lot, and He even did a bunch of miracles for them. When Thursday rolled around, the time had come for the annual Passover Feast. This was to remember the last meal the Israelites ate before leaving Egypt long ago. Jesus sent Peter and John to a certain house in Jerusalem to set up the upstairs room and prepare the food for the feast. But there was something important they didn’t do. There was nobody to wash their feet.

Back in Bible times, they had no cars, no minivans, not even paved roads. People got around by walking on the dirty, dusty roads, wearing only sandals. Some people had horses, camels and other animals that they used to carry things and to ride on. If you’ve ever walked behind a horse, you know you have to watch your step. Not only that, but when it rained, the dirt on the roads turned to goopy mud. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t keep their feet clean.

Washing people’s feet was very important when they came into a building…but it was a really dirty job, and nobody wanted to do it! So, the servants would wash people’s feet.

When the feast was all ready, Jesus and the rest of His disciples arrived at the house and got ready to eat. But there was an important thing that needed to happen first. Where was the servant that was supposed to wash their feet? Oops! None of them wanted to do such an awful dirty job right before eating!

So the disciples were gathered around the table, and Jesus stood up. He took off His outer robe and wrapped a towel around His waist. Then He picked up a basin full of water and knelt down in front of one of the disciples, and He started to wash his feet! The promised Messiah, who they knew was God in human form, their leader, friend and teacher, was doing the icky, smelly job that only the lowest of the low were supposed to do! These hands had created their feet in the first place! Once the first disciple’s feet were clean, Jesus dried them with the towel and went on to the next disciple. Peter watched as Jesus made His way around the table, washing the gunk off the disciples’ feet, and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Finally, when Jesus got to Peter, he had had enough. He decided to put his foot down, and he blurted out, “Lord, are you really gonna wash my feet?”

Jesus answered, “You don’t understand what I’m doing yet, but you’ll understand it later.”

Peter said, “Are you kidding? You will never wash my feet!”

“If I don’t wash you,” Jesus said, “you have no part with me.”

“OK,” said Peter. “In that case, wash my hands and head too!”

Jesus then reminded Peter that he didn’t need a bath; he just needed his feet washed.

After Jesus finished washing 24 filthy feet, He sat back down and asked them if they had figured out why He did that. When nobody answered, He went on. “You say that I’m your teacher and your Master. You’re right. I’m your teacher and your Master, and I’ve just washed your feet. You need to do that for each other. I did it to set an example for what you need to do. The truth is that no servant is greater than his master, and the messenger isn’t greater than the person who sent him. Now you know. You will be blessed if you do it.”

Today, we don’t usually need to wash each other’s feet. But there are a bunch of other things we can do to serve others. Something that other people don’t want to do, but needs to be done. Can you think of anything?