Marie Story (also credited as Marie Péloquin) lives in San Antonio, Texas, where she works as a freelance illustrator and volunteers as a counselor at a local homeless shelter.
I am by nature something of a worrywart, almost constantly preoccupied with one worry or another.
I am also a multitasker. I can do just about anything and worry at the same time. For example, this morning I was trying to take my daily quiet time, reading a few pages of devotional material and reflecting on it (I say “trying,” because at the same time I was worrying about the week’s work ahead of me, ongoing health problems, and an upcoming trip) when this sentence jumped off of the page: “In the Bible, the admonition to ‘fear not’ is used more than 100 times.” I guess God knew our inclination to worry and fear.
Have you ever tried sleeping with a fly or mosquito in the room? You’re lying there, nearly asleep, when bzzzzzzz—the fly dive-bombs your face. Some flies are even bold enough (or obnoxious enough) to land on your face or ear.
You’re drifting off again, when bzzz … SLAP! You’re too tired to get up and kill the thing, but you can’t sleep because of it.
Have you ever put a stalk of celery in colored water? What happens is that the celery starts to change color as the water is soaked up through the stem. It takes a couple of days to see the change, but soon the celery stalk will take on the color of the water it’s in. Celery also very quickly absorbs any poisons and pesticides in the air or in the soil.
Jesus gave a simple command: “Love your neighbor.”1 However, “neighbor” is pretty vague, and some wise guy asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”2 Jesus answered with the story about a traveler on the way to Jericho who was ambushed by thieves, beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Two people passed him by but didn’t stop to help.3
I can speculate on what each might have been thinking as he passed that poor guy on the side of the road.
Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Uz, there was a guy named Job. He was definitely one of the best guys around. He feared God and avoided evil. He was generous, kind, hardworking—overall, a good, godly man.1
Not only was Job a good guy, he also had a pretty great life. He had money, land, livestock, and servants. He had a wife and ten children.2 He was healthy. He was a respected figure in the community and had friends everywhere. Everyone knew who Job was.3
Prayer often works like baking a loaf of bread: You’ve got to mix the ingredients, knead the dough, proof the dough, then bake the finished loaf.
Step one: mix the ingredients. When baking bread, you can’t just throw a bunch of random stuff in a bowl and expect to get a loaf of bread. If you expect to get something edible, you have to use specific ingredients.
The Bible tells of a time Jesus went back to His hometown. I think it’s one of the saddest stories in the Bible, pretty much summed up in the final verse of the chapter: “He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”1
These people knew Jesus. They had watched Him grow up, and I guess they didn’t expect much from Him. So when He came around after He’d been doing miracles, they just couldn’t believe it. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?”2 they asked. It seems to me they were saying, “We know this guy. He’s just a carpenter—it’s not possible that He could be doing something great. It’s not like He’s the son of God or anything.”
I love playing the tile-matching video game Tetris. The reason I like it is that I can plan it all out by looking at the pieces that will come up next, and as they come down, I can fit them all in place evenly and lower the stack. At least, that’s the idea.
A good friend of mine decided to take up tennis. She bought all the gear, scheduled her first lesson, and headed off to the tennis courts.
When she got there, though, she was immediately aware that there were other people around. There were kids in the playground, people walking their dogs, and a group of others watching a baseball game nearby. Although none of them were watching her, having people around made her extremely self-conscious.
I have a six-year-old nephew who loves video games. The other day I was sitting with him while he was playing a racing game on his Wii. The levels were getting progressively more difficult, the speed was faster, and the courses were more hazardous. I could see him becoming more and more stressed—his face was turning red, his hands were getting sweaty, and he couldn’t stay in his seat.