Clinging to People and Possessions? No Wonder You’re Worried.

Although we rarely discuss them in the same sermon or Bible study, it’s no accident that right before Jesus’ admonition to “consider the lilies of the field” in Matthew 6, he told his followers, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth” (Matthew 6:19). When he said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life,” he was referring to his previous sentence: “You cannot serve both God and money.” He knew that our attachment to the treasures of this life was a primary cause for worry–and distraction from trusting and serving God.

Most of us are so busy storing up our treasures–in the form of the possessions and people we love–that we lose sight of the truth that everything and everyone belongs to God. He is the true owner of everything we think is ours and the one ultimately responsible for the people in our lives. He has granted us responsibility as stewards of riches and relationships, but he has not given us the ultimate responsibility that belongs only to him. We can experience freedom in recognizing our true role as caretakers, not owners.

We worry a lot about our possessions. And as people with plenty, we have much to worry about. I live in an area that is prone to flooding–not the old-fashioned kind that involves living on a flood plain, but the kind that happens when heavy rains overwhelm the storm sewer and the dirty water that’s supposed to be flowing away from our neighborhood’s houses instead backs up into them. As in other places, the weather in our area has grown more extreme in recent years, and in the seven years we have spent in our current home, we have been threatened with this kind of flooding at least two or three times each year. Thanks be to God, a former owner installed a backflow valve in the house–we discovered this by accident after we moved in. If we hadn’t closed this valve each time water threatened, we would have had serious (and disgusting) flooding.

But just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. What if one of these torrential rainstorms happens while we’re away from home and we can’t get back in time to manually close the valve? Our carpet, drywall and electronics would be ruined, along with furniture and possibly appliances like our washer and dryer and our hot water heater.

Several of our friends and neighbors have had significant flooding in their basements in recent years. So nowadays, when I see a big rainstorm coming, my stomach threatens to turn inside out. I worry about our house and our belongings. Usually, I also recognize the irony in this worry. If I didn’t have so much–a nice, comfortable house with a basement, carpet, computers and upholstered furniture–I’d have far less anxiety about flooding because I would have much less at stake.

We all worry about the risks that come with modern abundance: cars break down, investments lose money, appliances stop working, refrigerators and freezers aren’t any good when the power goes out. We feel we need most of these conveniences, and we think we own them. Although we aren’t wrong to have washers and dryers, carpet and vacuum cleaners, we are wrong to believe they are ours or that God has given them to us merely for our own comfort and happiness. If we held them loosely, we’d have far less to worry about.

This post was excerpted from Chapter 8 of Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry. If you want to read more, you can find the book here.

Taken from Anxious by Amy Simpson. Copyright(c) 2014 by Amy Simpson. Used by permission from InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com.

© 2015 Amy Simpson.