Back in 2014, the company I founded, These Numbers Have Faces, went through a major stage of great growth. And while growth is something we all wish for with companies, I found the maintenance of it all really challenging.
For months I was waking up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat. I thought my anxiety was taken care of in my life, but there it was, roaring back—all the while, hundreds of talented students were waiting patiently to join our programs in Africa.
To top it off, my wife and I were expecting our first child in only a few weeks time. We were thrilled of course, but the future was also downright scary.
We were feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Worry, fear, dread, regret. You’ve been there. We all have.
Like many of us do in times of trial, I rushed back to the foundations of my faith, praying in earnest for rest, peace, and spiritual renewal.
That’s when I stumbled upon the following 136 words that changed it all. 136 words that gave me the first leg up off of rock bottom. 136 words that, for the first time in a long time, quelled the battery acid of worry in my gut:
I am leading you step by step through your life. Hold My hand in trusting dependence, letting me guide you through this day.
Your future looks uncertain and feels flimsy, even precarious. That is how it should be. Secret things belong to the Lord, and future things are secret things.
When you try to figure out the future, you are grasping at the things that are Mine.
This, like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion: doubting My promises to care for you.
Whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, repent and return to Me. I will show you the next step forward, and the one after that, and the one after that. Relax and enjoy the journey in My Presence, trusting Me to open up the way before you as you go.”
– Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
Did you catch that?
- Your future is uncertain. This is how it is meant to be.
- Secret things belong to the Lord, and future things are secret things.
- Your worry is an act of rebellion.
In my top office drawer I have a green folder that holds some of my most prized documents. They aren’t awards, certificates, or photographs; they are clippings of prayers and quotes like the one above. I’ve got some Henry Nouwen, a hearty dose of Dr. King, some CS Lewis, and a pinch of Thomas Merton.
These brief reflections, handwritten or printed from my office computer, act as anchors of hope in times of uncertainty.
Over the last few months, my little folder has grown and grown.
What has saved me during times of worry and anxiety has been the repetition of opening this folder every morning to read and reread its contents.
I set aside 20 minutes a day and let these familiar words pour over me. The same words from the same people, over and over. This repetition, this act of obedience, has become the foundation of my day. Miraculously, it has brought peace.
Are you going through hell right now?
Build your green folder. Allow it to become your spiritual and emotional survival kit.
It’s not out of the norm to keep a first aid kit in your car or a few gallons of water in your basement for an emergency.
We should follow the same guidelines for our souls.
In your times of mental clarity and hopefulness, place the quotes, phrases, verses, prayers, and letters of encouragement you know you will need in times of disbelief and despair.
You’ll be surprised at the way this habit will guide you into the future.