More on Worry: A Simple Children’s Lesson at 3:30 a.m.

3:30 a.m. glows the green clock on my bedside table. I shift positions and let out a sigh. One quick glance at Nathan sleeping peacefully next to me reminds me of how alone I am in the dark with my thoughts. Then, the stream of irrational worrying begins. “Not another one of these nights!” I groan to myself.

Every so often I wake up and begin worrying about one thing…and then another…and then another. A few nights ago happened to be one of those middle-of-the-night-snowball-effects. After 30 minutes or so of giving into my barrage of incoherent worries, God, thankfully, recalled to my mind a simple children’s lesson I had taught several years ago at Granny’s House. It was about trusting God in all circumstances. I’m fairly confident that He has used that lesson far more in my life than anyone else’s since then.

The kids and I that day were discussing the verse, 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” I had learned that the verse meant to literally throw your worries to Christ. In order to illustrate this, I thought of what it feels like to carry around your own worries. To steal a similar illustration from John Bunyan’s A Pilgrim’s Progress, I think carrying our own worries around is like carrying a really, really heavy pack on our backs all day. This heavy pack weighs us down to the point of exhaustion and even despair.

To show this point to the children, I put on a big backpack full of heavy things in it. As I walked across the room, I stumbled and fell to my knees. “I can’t carry all the heavy burdens in this pack on my back. I have to give them to Jesus,” I told them. “The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:6-7, ‘Do not be anxious about anything. But, in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your mind and your heart in Christ Jesus.’ That means when we worry, God wants us to go to him first and trust Him to take care of us. And, in return, He promises to give us His great peace!”

One by one I took out the heavy items that had different “worries” that those kids might face written on them. Nearby was a basket with the label “Jesus” on it, which was filled with pieces of paper that said “peace of God.” With each new worry I pulled out, I would pray aloud and tell God about that specific worry, thank Him for who He is and how He helps me, and ask God to help me trust Him with that worry. Then, I would “cast” the heavy item into the basket and pull out the slip of “peace of God” paper instead. By the end of my lesson, my backpack was filled with the “peace of God” and my load was light.

Despite the somewhat cheesy simplicity of that illustration, the Lord has used that concrete children’s lesson several times to remind me how to deal with worry. At 4:00 a.m. the other night, I finally began to take each heavy burden out of my pack and cast them to Jesus. By 4:30 p.m., the peace of God prevailed in my mind and heart. Amazing how that works! I just wish I could have remembered that truth sooner so I could have gotten 30 minutes more sleep!

*Originally posted March 25, 2008

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