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Don’t sweat it

Antiperspirant promises for life’s sticky situations

By Scott Harrup

She shut off the vacuum cleaner when she heard the doorbell, then opened the door to meet her worst fear. Mom was “just popping in” on a day her apartment could qualify for federal disaster relief. The dirty dishes, laundry pile, bills on the table and cat litter explosion in the bathroom all screamed irresponsibility. Forget her two jobs and her graduate studies, she felt like she’d just arrived at the principal’s office.

He had mowed the yard the other day, but his neighbors’ yards looked like they were clipped five minutes ago. Every lawn on the street seemed to banish its weeds to his humble paddock. He needed to spray weed killer, but it was threatening to rain. He wondered if he should spray and hope for the best, or mow again and stealth-weed some more. Would the neighbors see him if he pulled the dandelions at 3 a.m.?

If you had a dime for each of your worries …

Besides the big issues of life, a landfill of little stuff has a way of growing steadily behind the scenes. Each daily headache adds to your tension and ramps up your worry meter. You would be embarrassed to list any of your problems individually — they sound so silly. But, taken together, they’re backing you into a corner.

• You are running late for work and notice the car is on E. You can risk running out of gas, or stop for gas and make yourself even later.

• You have a tight grocery budget. You either accept the standard bargains at the one-stop SuperDuperCenter or take the time and effort to taxi your coupons all over town.

• You squeeze every dime into that appliance purchase, then the cashier asks if you want to buy the extended warranty in exchange for one of your children or risk irreparable loss and lifelong regret.

• Your deck is so weathered its splinters have splinters, your windows and siding have grime buildup from the Clinton administration, the mystery junk in your garage is making Homeland Security suspicious, you would have to take out a loan to replace every burned-out lightbulb in the house, the cracks in your driveway are a risk to small children.

Wise words from a calm Teacher

Jesus lived during tough times. Thanks to the tax-happy Roman Empire, many people struggled to make ends meet. Courtesy of the Pharisees, folks were also stuck with local “big government” in the guise of a legalistic and hypocritical religious system.

Jesus’ parables give glimpses into just how hard life could be. You could get mugged hiking from Jerusalem to Jericho. You could run up a debt and be thrown into prison. You might sleep in one room with your entire family, struggle to grow your food for the year on unproductive soil or find yourself victimized by a corrupt system of justice.

But as Jesus ministered to people, He had a way of identifying the big and little issues that complicated their lives and consistently pointing people toward His Father. Jesus’ audiences represented families and singles, young and old, the wealthy and the impoverished. He connected with them all and gave all of them hope.

When you read Matthew 5-7, a section of the Gospel better known as the Sermon on the Mount, you discover Jesus’ words outline a life that enjoys God’s blessing in spite of unpleasant circumstances. Jesus’ nuts-and-bolts guidance covers big and little woes, major crises and daily headaches, issues of immediate concern and subjects of eternal weight.

In the middle of it all is this gem: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry …” (6:25, NIV). Don’t worry about what? The basic necessities of life. What you eat or drink or the clothing you wear. The kinds of things that birds and flowers possess through God’s plan, Jesus explains, you can trust God to provide for you. So, what happens if you take the plunge and take Jesus at His Word on the subject of worry?

Building on the little stuff

Weightlifter Shane Hamman has been described as the strongest man in America, but when he made the switch from powerlifting to Olympic-style weightlifting, he had to trade his record-breaking feats for hours of practice with a stick.

“It taught me patience,” Hamman said in a 2004 interview before that year’s Athens Olympics. “I had to go from squatting over 1,000 pounds and being rated as the strongest powerlifter in the world to lifting a broomstick. I did nothing but lift a broomstick for a month to study the technique. It was a really difficult time, but it worked out.”

Jesus invites you to trust God with your most basic needs. It’s kind of like training your faith muscles by prayerfully lifting a stick-sized need so that you’re ready for the big lifts required during a crisis.

When Christ spoke of well-fed birds and well-clad flowers, He wanted to remind you of a key truth: The Creator who provides for the humblest corners of the natural world has a full-scale benefits package available for His dearly beloved humanity. As you trust God with the little things, your faith matures and prepares you to tackle life’s big issues.

Personalizing the miraculous

Jesus wanted His listeners to personally connect with God. That’s why He spoke of God as “your heavenly Father” in this passage.

From cover to cover, the Bible is a record of a loving God who is intimately involved with every detail of life. When He is understood as your Heavenly Father, even the “big stuff” He does can be viewed through a very personal lens. From the creation of the cosmos to the parting of the Red Sea to walking with the Hebrews in the fiery furnace, God’s actions relate to people He loves. He wants those stories to encourage you.

As you read about God’s miracles in the Bible do you stop and think about His love and concern for you personally? Do you realize that whatever measures God was willing to take to protect and provide for His people in the Old and New Testaments, He is willing to take for you?

Believe it or not, there really is no disconnect between some huge act of historic deliverance, like the parting of the Red Sea, and the way God is willing to respond to your own problems. Face it, if you’re dealing with auto repairs, office politics, seasonal allergies or sleep apnea, you don’t need a large body of water to peel back from the shore — but God promises to provide whatever you do need.

Eradicating worry

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Jesus asked (6:27). As God, the One possessing perfect knowledge of how you are made, Jesus knew better than any doctor in history that worry does anything but add to your life.

University of Southern California psychologist Biing-Jiun Shen used data from a national aging study to estimate the impact of chronic worrying on the heart. Shen began tracking 735 confirmed heart-healthy men in 1986. By 2004, there had been 75 heart attacks among the participants. When Shen identified men who scored in the top 15 percent of anxiety scales he found they were 30 percent to 40 percent more likely
to have had a heart attack than their more easygoing counterparts.

The very act of not worrying will contribute to your improved health and help you optimize your physical response to the demands of everyday living. But the real key to dealing with those demands is drawing ever closer to God.

It’s all about relationship

“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:32,33).

When Jesus spoke of “pagans,” His listeners probably envisioned Gentiles or Romans in general or a hated tax-collector or next-door Samaritan in particular. But Jesus was really trying to get people to examine their own hearts and consider this simple distinction: You can remain outside of a relationship with God and try to handle all of life’s issues on your own. Or you can come into relationship with Him, recognize Him as your Heavenly Father, and watch Him move your personal mountains and part whatever Red Sea stands in your way.

Seeking God’s kingdom first does not demand some kind of martyr mentality. Seeking God’s kingdom first unleashes His love and resources in your behalf. Passionately pursuing a deeper relationship with God will move you along your life journey with purpose and peace.

Don’t sweat it. You can have God in your corner, if you’re just willing to ask and then respond in faith when He answers.

SCOTT HARRUP is senior associate editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (

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