My middle name is Jane. Not real exciting, but it goes well with Rhonda. And Tarzan.
I’m usually just called Rhonda, but have been called Rhonda Jane by a few people. And as a child, when I was not minding very well, all three names would sometimes come out of my mother’s mouth in order to get my attention. It usually worked.
However, for a long time, my REAL middle name was “Worry.” You know what I mean. Like someone who says “Football” is his middle name, meaning he “eats, sleeps, and breathes football.”
That’s how I was with “Worry.” I remember waking every morning and enjoying peace for a few seconds—until whatever item was currently on top of my “worry list” popped into my brain. And if nothing showed up, I would quickly think back to what I went to bed worrying about. Soon my “worrier” would shift into overdrive and I was stuck in fear for the rest of the day, wondering what was going to happen and how I was going to survive it.
Worry ruled my life. I spent a lot of time imagining future events turning out catastrophically for me. I talked about what I was worrying about. I continuously thought about what I was worried about.
Life was not fun.
Then I was confronted with truth. It happened in a Bible study I attended after college. I’m not sure how we ended up studying Philippians 4:6-7, but I know it was by God’s design.
The truth in those verses hit me square in the face. Suddenly I knew the worry that was ruling my life was not necessary. I didn’t have to continue living life like that. And these verses showed exactly how to stop worry in its tracks.
It was such a life-changer for me that I immediately memorized the passage and can still quote it today. I memorized the Living Bible (1970’s) version which is so clear. It says,
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can comprehend. His peace will keep your thoughts and your heart quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
It is literally a recipe for peace that I still use today.
The last several verses in Matthew 6 also talk about worry, going into detail about some of the major items we don’t need to worry about, like food and clothing. We’re told we don’t need to worry because our heavenly Father already knows what we need.
Instead of worrying, we’re told to seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness first and “all these things will be given to you as well.” That’s a powerful promise. About as powerful as having a peace in your life so wonderful you can’t even comprehend it.
Both of these passages remind me of a triangle. We’re sitting in one ‘corner’ looking at the opposite corner that represents WHAT we’re lacking or WHAT we’re worried will happen. But what we need to do is look up—move our focus from WHAT to WHO. Pray about everything, tell God our needs, thank Him for His answers, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.
In other words, we are to change our perspective by focusing on our relationship with God, on how good he is, how much He loves us, and how well He takes care of His children. Get our eyes off our problems and onto our Provider. Move our focus to the top of the triangle. And keep it there.
What’s your middle name?
If it’s “Worry,” you can change it. I can tell you from personal experience that life is much better as Rhonda Jane.
Matthew 6:25-34 New International Version (NIV)
25 “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? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.