Worry and worship share the same characteristics: deep thought, unshakeable focus, surrender, and devotion. The only difference between worry and worship is the recipient of those characteristics.
A good worrier has the potential of being a good worshipper. However, this can only happen when the recipient shifts from the external to the eternal.
God wants to teach us how to shift from worry to worship. How? By revealing and changing the recipient of our focus.
God’s Word provides the perfect story on this subject. Luke writes, “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42 NIV).
Mary and Martha give their attention to different recipients. Martha is focused on effort. Her devotion belongs to her preparations. She’s deeply engaged in her work. As a result, she’s worried.
Mary, on the other hand, is focused on Jesus. Her devotion belongs to God’s presence. She’s deeply engaged in the words of Jesus. As a result, she worships.
Who or what receives your focus? Because the recipient of your focus controls your life.
Performance is the recipient of Martha’s focus. Therefore, performance controls her life.
Jesus is the recipient of Mary’s focus, so Jesus controls her life.
I find myself in Martha’s shoes more often than not. The main recipient of my attention isn’t Jesus. I focus more on my effort, performance, and work. Because of this, I worry more than I worship.
Now, please understand what I’m saying. You should be focused on the work you do for God. You should be committed, dedicated, and faithful in fulfilling your responsibilities. However, there’s only one commitment that should control your life—your relationship with God.
Are you controlled by worldly commitments? Are you, like Martha, consumed with worry? Are you overly focused on external factors?
In Joshua 2, there’s a story about a prostitute named Rahab. The Bible reads, “Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, ‘Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.’ So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.
But someone told the king of Jericho, ‘Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.’ So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: ‘Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.’
Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, ‘Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them’” (V. 1-5 NLT).
I know it seems strange that the hero of this story is a prostitute. But here’s the truth: God will work through you if you allow Him. Nonetheless, she lies to her government in order to protect God’s people.
You see, the woman has a great opportunity to worry. But instead, she worships. How? Because she doesn’t allow an earthly commitment to trump a commitment to God.
Here’s what I’m trying to say: Rahab, like Martha, had a responsibility. For Martha, she was hosting Jesus in her home. For Rahab, she was supposed to obey her king.
Rahab reveals that although God desires us to be committed to our jobs, He is the only one who should control our lives. And as a result, Rahab worships God.
True worship requires the right priorities. Be committed to your responsibilities, but only be controlled by God. Then, your worries can shift to worship.
Isaiah Pauley is a senior at Wahama High School. He can be followed at www.isaiahpauley.com, or on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page.