Storm clouds in Guatemala, Peten, Guatemala

Confessions of a worry wart in a thunderstorm

I have a confession to make.

Why is it so hard to let go of the things you worry about? Does anybody else have that problem? Sometimes my brain races at night, and I can’t get it to shut off. I just can’t stop thinking. And before you know it, I’m lying in bed wide awake when I should be sleeping.

I had a monster rainstorm at my house last night. By all accounts, my basement should have flooded. Judging by the amount of rain that came down and how long it came down, a basement full of water this morning wouldn’t have surprised me. But my basement is dry. In one little place water is starting to seep in through the concrete, but that’s not a problem. And it’s not something I need to clean up. So I’m immensely thankful this morning, and I’m wondering why I stubbornly cling to things that don’t matter.

Storm clouds in Guatemala, Peten, Guatemala

Storm clouds in Guatemala, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s Bible verse is Isaiah 26:4.

Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

I trust God. I do. I have no problem turning things over to Him, but then my brain keeps bringing them back up again. Last night is a great example. I knew the basement hadn’t leaked in months, and even if it had, it’s not like it would have destroyed a bunch of valuable things. The biggest issue would be clean up. But my brain wouldn’t stop thinking about it. Do I have enough towels? Is the shopvac here? What if the power goes out and I can’t use the shopvac? Is the sump pump working? I don’t hear it running. Why isn’t it running?

And on and on and on it went, circling my brain until the rain outside finally slowed around 3:00 a.m. I’m glad I took a nap yesterday.

Does worry like that mean I don’t trust God? That’s what I’m concerned about. Because I want to trust Him completely. I want to know that I’ve given everything I have over to Him and that He can do whatever He likes with it. Granted, He can do whatever He likes with it without my permission or not, but my attitude about His sovereignty in my life is essential.

For every worry that popped up in my head, I answered it with truth. God is sovereign. All I have is His. Things are things and can be replaced. Until I got to the point of wondering what I was even worrying about. But even then, I couldn’t stop it.

So what does that mean? Does that mean I don’t trust God like I should? Well, I’m not sure any of us can claim that we’ve accomplished that level of trust. Maybe a handful of people have, but I’m not sure they would go around talking about how tight they are with God even if they were. I want to trust God more than I do, but I trust Him already too. I’ve seen Him do miracles. I’ve seen Him do extraordinary things in my life.

Today’s verse calls Him the Eternal Rock, and that’s true. He hasn’t changed at all from the beginning of time. He’s the same God who provided for the founders of our faith, the same God who protected believers in the past. I know that. I believe that. So why do I worry? And not just worry–allow my brain to run wild to the wee hours of early morning over something that doesn’t matter, something that won’t even turn out to be a problem?

It’s frustrating.

Not once in the night did I doubt that everything would be okay. Even if the house flooded, even if everything was destroyed, I knew it would be okay. God has taken care of me before; certainly, He’d do it again. But it’s one thing to know it; it’s something else to believe it. And living it takes the whole concept to another level.

So what’s the solution for worry? I wish I knew, but I don’t. If I knew, I wouldn’t be staying up to 3:00 a.m. worrying about a flood that never came. I tell you what, I never felt more like Elijah in the cave after Jezebel threatened his life.

For me, I think it’s focus and discipline. Part of having faith is acting like you believe even if you don’t feel like it. If you think about it, that’s a definition of faith. And the rest of it is remembering. Remember what God has done for you–not necessarily for other people. It’s easy to remember how God has helped others. That’s because it’s a lot easier to focus on others in general. But when it comes to remembering what God has done for you personally, that’s more difficult. Remind yourself how God has helped you in the past and focus on that. Your perspective will change, and maybe the urge to worry will go away.

It’s supposed to rain again tonight, so if it works, I’ll let you know. Either way, giving in to worry is a waste of time, and losing sleep over something you can’t change or can’t stop is silly. It’s one thing to want to be prepared to face trouble. That’s wisdom. But get prepared and then don’t worry about it. And when your brain starts to worry anyway, point out all the ways that God has helped you personally in the past. You’ll probably have to remind it more than once.

The key to facing worry down is remembering who is in charge. If what you are worrying about happens, God has you covered and has something for you to learn. If what you are worrying about doesn’t happen, God still has you covered and has something for you to learn. Either way, God still has you covered.


The barn at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

A foundation stronger than your circumstances

I work in the plumbing industry, which is really strange for me to say. That’s my full-time job. I write articles and brochures about my company’s pipe-joining systems for plumbing and heating in homes, commercial projects and industrial plants. Starting out in this job (three years ago March 22), I knew pretty much nothing about plumbing. I actually knew very little about the entire concept of creating a building from the ground up. And I can’t say I know everything now. Honestly, I probably shouldn’t even say I know a lot. But I know so much more than I did.

But there was one aspect of building construction that I did understand and that was the concept of having a strong foundation. If a building doesn’t have a strong foundation, you’re asking for trouble. As I posted yesterday, Kansas is one of the windiest places in the world, and if your house isn’t firmly attached to something, one of those strong windstorms will blast through and take your house with it. It doesn’t even need to be a tornado.

But the same is true in life. If your life doesn’t have a solid foundation, the storms of life can rock your world. But they don’t have to be giant storms. Even little cracks in a foundation are a big problem. Just like everyday issues can chip away at you until you’ve become someone you never intended to be.

The barn at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The barn at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 62:6.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Throughout January I’ve been posting about change and how to deal with change when it comes. And I suppose I should preface all of this by stating something obvious: Even if you have a strong foundation, life is still going to throw curve balls at you. Even if you’re firmly grounded, you still experience earthquakes. Just by having a strong foundation it doesn’t mean change isn’t going to have an effect on you; you’ll still experience it. But the strength of your foundation will determine how you handle the experience.

My property has a chicken house on it that was built probably in the 1940s. I’m guessing. There’s also a barn about 100 yards away from the chicken house. It’s a small barn. No loft. I’ve mentioned this a few other times before, but I experienced a ridiculous windstorm here in early November last year. That crazy south wind slammed into my chicken house and lifted it eight inches off its foundation, bent it backward and twisted it sideways. It’s a wreck.

That same windstorm did absolutely no damage to my barn.


Well, there are probably some other reasons, but I don’t think it’s wind break. Both the barn and the chicken house have about the same amount of trees between them and the open south pastures. Granted, the chicken house faces south, while the barn faces east with its side toward the south. But the strength of those winds should have shaken the barn up somehow.

My best explanation? The barn has a better foundation.

The chicken house was really just sitting on the dirt with some concrete poured around it. It was hand built by the family who first built our house, I think. In any case, it wasn’t exactly a professional job. Neither was the barn, for that matter, but it was built much later. And while I don’t know the state of its foundation, it’s a bigger foundation than the chicken house in any case. So when they face the same damaging wind storm, the chicken house gets bashed to pieces because its foundation isn’t strong enough to support it.

Foundations are–well–foundational. If you don’t have something strong to build on, the whole of your structure will suffer. But foundations can be deceiving too, because maybe you think your foundation is strong enough, but you don’t really know what it’s made out of. And you spend your life building on it, and then one day everything comes crashing down because you didn’t realize how weak it actually was.

Some foundations wear away with time. Or they erode. Or they just weaken. Maybe they started out strong, but as the years pass, they just wear out because what they’re made of isn’t a good enough material for building.

So if you’re going to build a life, why would you build on a foundation that’s uncertain? The economy and finances, human relationships, even yourself are uncertain at best. And if you try to build your life on those things, it’s all going to come crashing down. If you’re going to build your life on a foundation, you need to build it on something that doesn’t change. I know people who have gone through intense trouble. Deaths. Layoffs. Bankruptcy. You name a horrible thing, and they’ve experienced it. But in spite of it, they’re still standing strong. How is it possible?

Their foundation is stronger than their circumstances. Just like my barn, they have a foundation that is stronger than the storms they’re facing. They have chosen to build their life on the truth of the Bible, on the truth of God’s love, and on the faith that God knows what He’s doing and that everything He does is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

So check your foundations today. What are you building your life on? Yourself? Your friends? Your job? None of that is good enough. Build your life on Christ, the Rock that doesn’t change. And all that means is to make decisions based on what the Bible says. Live your life the way Christ did. And not only will your foundation grow strong enough to weather any storm, your life will change too.

Rainbow in the sky near Esfuerzo Dos, Peten, Guatemala

When everything changes, God doesn’t

Do you know people who keep their promises? They’re good people to know. Their word means something to them, and you can trust that when they make you a promise, they will do all they can to see it through to the end. But how many times does someone have to keep a promise before it becomes part of their character? Once? Ten times? Half their life?

The amazing thing about God (one of the many) is that He has made thousands and thousands of promises, just that we know about in the Bible, and He has kept every single one. Maybe I’m generalizing, but I don’t think a normal average human being can do that. At some point, we have to break promises because we aren’t capable of always keeping them; but God is.

Rainbow in the sky near Esfuerzo Dos, Peten, Guatemala

Rainbow in the sky near Esfuerzo Dos, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verse is Isaiah 44:8.

Do not tremble; do not be afraid.
    Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago?
You are my witnesses—is there any other God?
    No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

From the moment He created time itself, God has been making promises to His Creation, and up until now, every promise He has made, except for a few, have become reality. And those few outstanding will change everything once He does what He’s promised to do.

The hallmark of someone you can trust, someone who keeps their promises, is that when they say they’re going to do something, they’re really going to do it. And that works with God as well as with people down here.

So what does that mean for us? Yes, it’s good to know that God keeps His promises, but you have to know His promises before it really has any bearing on our lives. You have to know that He has promised to never abandon us. You have to know that He has promised to help us get through life. You have to know that He has promised to make everything work out for good for the people who have chosen to follow Him.

Has He really promised those things? Yes, He really has. And because God keeps His promises, we can know that He will truly do them.

God has been keeping promises for thousands and thousands of years. The Bible is proof of what He has done and why He has done it. And since He has been keeping promises for so long, why would He stop now? What we need to remember is that God doesn’t change. In our whole life, our whole existence, He is the one person that doesn’t. Everything else does. Life happens. People die. Babies are born. People get married. People get divorced. People move and leave and return. Churches change. Jobs change. Economies change. Governments change.

In our lives on Earth, there’s only one constant: Everything changes.

And change isn’t bad. Most of the time it’s good because it forces us outside our comfort zone, but the change that we welcome is usually the change that we initiate. It’s the change that we don’t choose that is difficult to bear. It’s the change we have no control over that discourages us and frightens us and worries us.

But even when everything around us changes, God doesn’t.

I’m sitting at my office computer accessing the internet from a wireless connection that is broadcast to my farm from a tower in a nearby town. When high-speed internet came to the rural areas of Kansas, there was much rejoicing because we were all still stuck in the limited universe of dial-up modems for years. And with every year, our technology changes and our ability to communicate over vast distances improves. We are able to do things today that people 30 years ago could only imagine; we are able to do things today that people 100 years ago couldn’t even dream.

Our world has changed drastically in the last decade or so. It’s weird for me to stay that I remember 20 years ago, but I do. I remember what the world was like in the ’80s and ’90s. I remember watching the slow change that overtook us until we became the country we are today.

But sitting in my office with all my technology, living in my world that is so drastically different from the world I grew up in, I am writing about the same God who told Noah to build an ark to save who he could. I am writing about the same God who promised Abraham that he would be a great nation. I am writing about the same God who turned a little shepherd boy into the greatest king Israel had ever known. The same God who heard the cries of the people who were seeking Him, the same God who made everything, the same God who send Christ to die for us, is same now as He was then.

And in a world that refuses to stop changing no matter how hard we try to hold on to what was, having that constant is awfully nice. Because we can trust that no matter how topsy-turvy everything in our lives gets, God is still working things out. He promised He would. And if God has kept His promises for all these thousands of years, He isn’t going to stop now.

So don’t despair when things change. Don’t worry and don’t shut down because God’s not changing, and He still has the power to take any situation (especially the ugly ones we’ve screwed up) and make it beautiful. We just have to let Him.