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Anxiety and Fretting and Worry, Oh My

I was thigh deep in the murky waters of the Brazos River a few months ago fly-fishing for largemouth bass. As I worked my way around a brushy deadfall protruding into the river, I flipped my fly carefully under the branches hoping for the trademark attack of a violent and angry fish. Instead, what I saw gave my heart a start. The largest water moccasin I have ever seen slithered its gray-black body off the deadfall and into the water with me.

Only a small ripple marked its entrance, but there was nothing to indicate its direction of travel. It’s a common misconception that water moccasins cannot bite and inject their venom under water. Had I spooked the snake? Would my bare legs be strange enough to cause it to turn away, or would it be inspired to give them a snaky lick?

Anxiety. Fretting. Worry. The Bible explicitly instructs us to avoid these enemies. "Be anxious for nothing," Paul writes in Philippians 4:6. "Do not worry," Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:31. "Do not fret," David says in Psalm 37:8. As I consider these admonitions, I can’t help but wonder if any of them were ever thigh deep in a muddy river with a poisonous snake (see Acts 28:3).

Worry is assuming responsibility for something that is God’s responsibility. God is explicit about carrying burdens that are not ours to tote. It has been my experience that letting God have what is His to carry is easier said than done.

I forgot about the snake after several minutes, but I continued to consider the nature of worry. When it comes down to it, I must decide if I am going to let God carry his responsibilities or if I am going to carry them for him and be guilty of worry.

Pray: Father, correct me if I am wrong, but I think the difference between thoughtful planning and worry is my confidence level in your sufficiency. If this is so, then make me sensitive to my attitudes of independence. Help me recognize the enemy’s accusation that you are not sufficient. Give me the courageous resolve to grasp your grace in the ungracious place of looming worry.


Preston Gillham

About the Author

As a co-founder, Preston Gillham led Lifetime for 30 years. Preston is a writer, speaker, and leadership guide. He has authored numerous articles and several books including No Mercy and Battle for the Round Tower. He blogs on “Life and Leadership”. More about Preston, his writings, speaking, and his consulting practice can be located at PrestonGillham.com.