Dr. Michael Stovall, Columnist

People are being crucified between two thieves, the regret of the past and the worry about the future. Worrying about something is to be harassed, disturbed or afflicted. None of these sound like anything with which I want to be involved. I mean, who in their right mind would intentionally choose to be harassed, disturbed or afflicted?

Yet, when a person makes the choice to worry about something he is making the choice to allow worry to steal his joy. Worry is brought on by focusing on the size of our challenges in light of the strength of our abilities. We feel as if we are the one who is supposed to solve all of life’s issues.

However, Jesus teaches that the solution to worry is to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

You will hit what you stare at every time. This is why baseball players work to keep their eye on the ball when they are batting and why downhill skiers focus on the gates they are to ski through. They are more likely to hit the target if they have their eyes fixed on it.

The writer of the book of Hebrews admonishes us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:2a). The clear admonition of the Scriptures is that we are NOT to worry about anything.“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). The principle here is that we are to worry about nothing, but pray about everything. Praying in faith is the difference between worry and concern.

Worry not only acknowledges the challenges being faced, but it leads to paralysis of the heart and mind. Concern acknowledges the challenges, but views them through the lens of faith knowing that God’s grace and provision are needed.

Here are some principles for avoiding worry in our lives …

•Don’t worry about what you have control over. If you have control over it, then do something about it.

•Don’t worry about what you don’t have control over. If you don’t have control over it, then there is nothing you can do about it anyway.

•Make the best decision you can based on the information you have at the time and keep moving forward. Course corrections can be made later if you gain more or better information, but do not let worry stop you from living now.

•Deal with what is real. As with any situation, you must discover what is true and let the truth guide your thinking and deciding. Since God’s Word, the Bible, is the sole source of absolute truth, we must invest the time to learn what God has to say about our circumstances.

The more you find yourself pouring through the truth of God’s Word, the more likely you are to find your eyes fixed upon Jesus.  Joy is the settled and fixed experience of knowing that God is good. Joy is choosing to trust God’s goodness in spite of what my circumstances seem to indicate.

Joy is choosing to live in the light of God’s truth rather than wallow in the world’s darkness. Dr. Michael Stovall currently serves as the lead pastor of Centennial Baptist Church in Rutledge.

Michael and his wife Tricia have four children, Liana, Landon, Leighton and Liam.  In his “free” time he enjoys anything that allows him to spend time with his family, reading, working in the yard, running, hanging out with friends and watching Georgia Bulldog football. (To learn more about Dr. Michael Stovall, go to michaelstovall.com/about)