Turn Back or Not?
Merging onto the interstate was easier than I had expected. It was 8:30 a.m. Without traffic backups, I would arrive in time to pick up my niece at 9:00 for her appointment.
Traffic slowed. This was a perfect time to check my cell phone to ensure there were no messages with last-minute changes from my niece. I reached carefully into the usual spot in my handbag. It was not there. In rushing, I had forgotten it.
Should I turn back? With a 60-mph speed limit, time restraints, and no upcoming exits, there was little choice. I decided to proceed without it.
Have you ever left home without your cell phone? What were your feelings?
I suspect most Americans feel uneasy leaving their phone at home.
For the next few hours, I would have no mobile functions: no calling or texting, GPS navigation, emergency alerts, verse of the day, or lunch menu choices or other notifications… I began to feel “uneasy.” Should I have turned back?
I thought of a few examples in the Bible about those who did not consider turning back, such as the twelve disciples:
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:66-68).
The adulterous woman. Jesus forgave her past and told her,
“Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).
David the psalmist confessed:
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight (Psalm 51:4).
He later declared,
I will praise the Lord all of my life. I will sing praise to my God as long as I live (Psalm 146:2).
The Apostle Paul said of himself:
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15
He later said:
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
I too have received God’s forgiveness from a broken past. No… turning back is not an option:
I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes (Psalm 119:59).
Without my cell phone, all went well. My niece arrived early for her appointment, we used verbal communication (an almost-forgotten skill) to arrange meet up after, and we used her cell phone to help locate her favorite Colombian Blend coffee shop.
Five hours later, I was reunited with my handheld device. On checking, the only communication I had received was a message at 8:57: “Good morning, Aunt Merle. You haven’t forgotten me, right?”
What to Do When Worry Comes
By: Betsy St. Amant , Crosswalk.com
Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
My teen daughter went to a concert in Dallas a few nights ago with her best friend and her best friend’s mom. This was a Big Deal, as you probably remember your first “real” concert and how cool it was—and how cool you felt! I was excited for her—but not so much for me. As a mother, I struggle with anxiety, especially when I’m away from my kids. I think we all do in some form because mothers are wired that way—to nurture, to protect.
Sometimes, though, that natural, God-given wiring can glitch a little into full-blown anxiety. When my daughter left on this trip, I expected the worry to come. I anticipated it, even. I knew that having worrisome thoughts did not mean it was a premonition of disaster. It was simply anxiety, it was normal, and it would pass. I was all fired up to walk this out well and overcome my typical patterns of worry. The plan was that after the concert, the three of them would drive back to the friend’s house in town and crash for the night, then I’d pick up my teen the next morning after they’d slept in and recovered.
After the concert was over, they texted me as expected to let me know they were in the car and heading home. It was around 10:30 p.m., and it would be a good three-hour drive. I knew the mom in charge was trustworthy and competent (and a good friend of mine!), and I had no reason to worry. In fact, you might even say I basked in the fact that I wasn’t worrying at all as I tracked my daughter’s progress down I-20 on a phone app. I marveled at how non-panicky I was as I watched them inch their way down the gray highway line on my map. I was doing so great!
At 10:45, they told me they were heading to a well-known truck stop/souvenir shop to gas up and get snacks, and they would let me know when they arrived safe and sound back at the friend’s house. After monitoring their progress on my app for about an hour, I finally fell asleep around 11:30. At 12:30, I abruptly woke up. I immediately checked my app, but it wasn’t updating. No matter how many times I refreshed the page, it simply would not give me my daughter’s location after 11:30 p.m.
That’s when the worry struck. I knew, deep down in the logical part of my heart and brain, that nothing was wrong, that she was probably just in a bad service area, or that her phone had run out of charge after spending hours taking video and photos of the concert. I texted the mom, who was driving and likely not going to see the text anyway and waited. Nothing.
That’s when the not-so-logical part of my heart and brain immediately assumed that surely, they’d all three been kidnapped at the gas station and their phones smashed. That was the only remaining option. (Illogical fears make so much more sense in the middle of the night!) I tried to go back to sleep, but my thoughts refused to stop churning and generating various new disasters that could explain the silence. (Sometimes, it’s really difficult to be a fiction author with a good imagination!)
Finally, I remembered I also had the best friend’s phone number, so I shot her a quick text. Within three minutes, she wrote back. All was well. They were sugared up and halfway home. Oops.
It’s easy to trust God when we feel in control, isn’t it? When the apps are working and we can watch what’s happening from afar when we have information exactly when we want it, and when all is going according to plan. It’s a lot harder to trust when we’re stripped of our resources and suddenly very aware of how much we’re not in control.
I was no longer proud of myself. And then I realized (thank you, Holy Spirit!) that my pride was based on illusion, anyway. All those hours prior, I wasn’t overcoming anxiety—I was simply believing I was in control. Everything was going my way. That’s a huge difference! It wasn’t that I was trusting God—I was trusting myself and technology and communication. Oops again.
Colossians 1 reminds us that in Christ, all things hold together. They’re not held together in smartphones. Or in tracking apps. Or in padded bank accounts or thriving romantic relationships or in corporate ladder climbing. In today’s world of upgraded technology, instant communication, and easy access, it’s tempting to trust in the wrong things. Where is your trust today?
If you struggle with anxiety and worry, you’re not alone. And for believers, there’s no condemnation in Christ, so don’t beat yourself up over those middle-of-the-night fears. Instead, learn from them. Create a resource of Scripture that you can go to when the worry strikes (because it will). Reassure yourself that God is in control, and that’s exactly how it should be. After all, at the end of the day, I don’t think you and I truly want that responsibility! He’s much better at it than us. And He doesn’t even need an app.
Coming to Judge
SCRIPTURE READING — MARK 13:24-27
From: Today Devotions
“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”
The details about Jesus’ second coming are mysterious, and there are differing interpretations of some of the Bible’s statements about end times and the return of Christ. But in teaching about Christ’s return, the Apostles’ Creed simply states this bold biblical truth: “He will come to judge the living and the dead.”
Someday Jesus will return from heaven. He didn’t say when this will be, but he did say that he will return “with great power and glory” for all to see.
Jesus’ coming again will be a day of great joy for all his followers, who have been redeemed through his sacrifice on the cross. For them the whole curse of death and hell has been removed (Romans 8).
But Jesus’ return will also be a day of great trembling because, as the Bible warns, he will judge once and for all the people who have rejected him.
Though believers in Christ may not agree on all the details of his return, we certainly can agree on how we should live for him. Jesus calls us to follow him faithfully, dying daily to ourselves so that we can walk in step with his Spirit, using our gifts for God’s glory and bearing fruit in his name (John 15:1-17; Galatians 5:22-26). This involves showing God’s love to everyone and sharing his desire that everyone believe in him.