((This post first appeared on The Gospel Economist.))
I’m a worrier. It’s not crippling. Worrying is more like a slight headache for me: constantly throbbing, but generally forgettable if I’m having enough fun.
But it’s still there. Always there.
In elementary school, I worried about my friends liking me. I wore hand-me-downs, didn’t have cable, and lived in the country while all my peers lived in town. How could I have known that I was living the millennial hippie dream, just ten years too soon? I was convinced everyone was just pretending to be my friend. I accepted every play-date suspiciously.
In high school, I worried about boyfriends and parties. Was I being invited to the right ones? Was I seen as a goody-two-shoes? A prude? (Answers: no, yes, and yes.)
In college, it turned to deadlines and legacies. Was I going to pass this class? Was I becoming the kind of person I wanted to be? Was I making good enough memories in these four years? (I’m convinced nothing is more stressful than trying to make enough exciting memories to satisfy your future story-hungry grandchildren.)
And now, post-college, I’ve figured out fresh ways to worry. It’s no longer about fake friends or parties, deadlines or classes. I’ve jumped to new things like — is there a point to life? Do I have a passion? Will I ever amount to anything? Should I have more of my life together at this point? Am I wasting my time on earth? What am I worth?
No big deal, no big deal.
It’s a small hop from worrying you’re wasting your time to worrying you’re not worth anyone’s time. It’s a small hop from worrying I don’t have a passion to worrying I’m not worthy of passion.
Maybe you’ve had thoughts similar to these.
Listen, I haven’t stopped worrying. I’m a broken human in a broken world and the devil likes to prey on my weaknesses and whisper lies to my heart. That’s simply reality because I’m not turning into God any time soon and neither is the devil. But I am sick and tired of hearing Holy-Spirit-filled people worrying about their salvation. People are worried that they only think the’re a Christian. Did my baptism stick? Did the sinner’s prayer work? Did I feel the bridge of this worship song enough for God to actually be in my heart? Everyone’s arms are raised and mine aren’t — God is clearly not interested in me!
This. Breaks. My. Heart.
Disclaimer: There are people in this world who don’t know Jesus. There are people who show up to church on Sundays who have never experienced the grace and love of Christ. I pray so hard that the Holy Spirit works on their hearts and they fall desperately in love with my Jesus. I want to see them in heaven. I am not talking to them right now.
I’m talking to you, Christian. You, sweet Jesus-lover, who is worried that maybe you’re sinful nature is keeping you from heaven, after all. You, child of God, who is worried since you haven’t “felt God’s presence” in awhile that maybe He’s not present in your life at all.
We are so loved.
We are not worthy of the passionate love of our Father, but we receive it anyway. We are not worthy of his time, energy, forgiveness but he pursues us relentlessly, showering us with those things and more. We are not worthy of knowing him, let alone feeling him, but he reveals himself to us anyway.
Friend, he’s not going to waste you. Live with an open heart, an open mind, a willingness to wait and a willingness to go. Give generously and laugh easily, work until you think you may drop and then rest so well.
Friend, he’s not going to reject you. Live adventurously, sacrificially loving people who might hurt you and leave you because you know you’ll never be hurt or left by your Savior.
Friend, he’s not going to drop you or give up on you. Live boldly in the confidence of knowing you have eternal life ahead of you. John Mark MicMillan sings, “Your heart won’t stop coming after me.” He’s pursuing you, friend. He loves you too much to leave you. Love him back fiercely — what have you got to lose?
There are a million things to worry about. (We don’t have to worry about those things either. Like, we really, really don’t have to.) But even if you do worry about some things, (like, yes, okay, I am inevitably going to worry occasionally and no blog post will magically stop that) don’t, don’t, don’t worry about your salvation. Through Jesus dying on the cross and then dancing out of the grave, in our baptism, we can live in the confidence that we are His. Always. Even when we screw something up really badly and even when the latest Hillsong hit leaves us dry-eyed.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.