Last night, while answering the routine ‘how-was-your-day’ questions, Evelyn (9) said, “I left my math homework at school, but I’m not worried about it right now. That’s Future Me’s problem and I can’t do anything about it. Future Me will just have to deal with it tomorrow.”
I’m still not sure if this is irresponsible or brilliant… or both! Certainly “Future Me” had to deal with some consequences today when the future collided with the present, and more consequences are pending if “Future Me” doesn’t maintain her math grades. Still, I have to admire Evelyn’s carefree attitude when it comes to circumstances beyond her control. She is an honor roll student, so please don’t get the impression that this is a common occurrence, but forgetfulness can happen to the best of us. I must admit, I would probably lose sleep over what may or may not happen when I had to face my teacher the next day, but to Evie… that was Future Me’s problem. She was just going to eat supper, play with her little brother, take a bath, and go to bed. I think we can safely assume that Future Me won’t have to deal with any stomach ulcers down the road!
Admittedly, I’ve been battling with anxiety in my own life recently. Anxiety about the future, the economy, abortion, terrorism, growing threats here in the United States and abroad, the plight of Christians around the world, the fast growing moral decay that is eating away at the foundations of our society like a cancer and spiraling faster and faster out of control. *hyperventilates into a paper bag… oo-ee-oo-ee-oo-ee*
I know 1 Peter 5:7 tells us, “cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” I know that, but it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with everything going on around us in the world and forget that God is indeed in control. I’m (still) learning to calm my fears by spending time in prayer and in God’s Word. God says “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10) The Hebrew word for be still in this passage doesn’t mean to sit still and be quiet; it means to “let go”. Let go of the things that you can’t control and know that He is God, He is on the throne, and He is in control.
I’m reminded of a little wooden plaque that used to hang on the wall in our kitchen when I was a boy. We moved from Henagar to Rainsville when I was 12-years-old and I don’t recall seeing it since, but I remember it’s words very well. Written on this plaque was a prayer called The Serenity Prayer. You’ve probably heard it before. It’s been often used and quoted:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
I’ve prayed those three lines many times through the years. That prayer, a memory from my childhood mingled together with memories of orange counter-tops and plaid wallpaper and my family sitting around a country kitchen. It always takes me back every time I think about that little prayer. But those three lines are actually a condensed version of a larger prayer; a wonderful, rich prayer authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in 1937. Here is the prayer in it’s entirety:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
May we live our lives with serenity, courage, and wisdom. I will not be anxious (Matthew 6:31). I will cast my cares on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). I will not be afraid because God is with me, giving me strength. (Isaiah 41:10) The future may (or may not) be full of trouble and hardships, but I’m trying not to worry about it. That’s just something that Future Me will have to deal with.