I had the privilege of attending a spiritual retreat earlier this week. During the opening worship, participants were given a small polished rock. As each participant held the rock, we were asked to think of circumstances in our lives that burden us. Whatever the circumstance, whether it was the loss of someone, a broken relationship, work related stress, grief, a busy calendar, etc. We were asked to think of this small stone as representing those issues that caused us to be anxious or to worry. We were then invited to share those concerns with God, through prayer, and thereafter to lay our stones at the base of a cross. In doing so, we were saying we would turn over all our worries to God during this time of spiritual retreat. We could let them go so our own hearts and minds would be as open as possible to experience God’s presence with us.
As I held my small stone in the palm of my hand and rolled it over and over, I mentally listed my worries to God. Each of my concerns was, as one would imagine, very personal to me. At this point, I had a startling revelation about myself that wasn’t pretty.
I didn’t want to give up my worries! I wanted to keep on thinking, worrying, pondering, and stewing on these very issues. Why was that? Why was I so unwilling to let go of my worries? Did I really think I could solve them? Did I think I knew more than God? Did I believe I had some power to change these issues? To be clear, I know I HAVE NO POWER WHATSOEVER TO CHANGE THESE PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES. THEY ARE BEYOND HUMAN CONTROL! The ONLY entity with any power in these circumstances is the one true and loving GOD. He alone has the power to change circumstances, and my human brain knows that. But my human brain apparently likes to worry and agonize over things beyond my control.
I did finally give my worries to God for the time I was at the retreat. However, as soon as I returned home, I picked up those same worries and put them right back where they had been…always in the back of my mind…an undercurrent to every decision I make…an ever present concern.
So how about you? Do you really “give it to God” when you pray? Or are you just like me and enjoy your stewing and worrying even after sharing it with God?