I’ve been talking to people whose past is regrettable and their future is unsure. They feel powerless to make changes in the face of too many unknowns. They experience anxiety and overwhelm.
You can tell them that they’ve got to trust our all-good God just so many times before you need a more concrete concept to get your idea across. I came up with the God Jar to do that. I’ll explain what I mean, because when I went looking for images (thank you Google), this God Jar idea actually seems to be a thing– who knew?– with even books of that title that I know nothing about. What I’m talking about here is totally my own version.
Imagine your to-do list is swirling and full of things that are outside your purview. You may be waiting to know a critical piece of information, or need someone else to do something before you can take your next step. Maybe you are worried about something in the future or are frustrated about behavior or circumstances in the past. Remember you can only do what you can do today.
As Stephen R. Covey would say, we’ve got to focus on our own “sphere of influence.” None of us can do anything about the past or the future. The only thing we can influence is the present moment.
I would say that God is only in the now. The carnal mind, which the Bible talks about, tries to get us to focus on the past (either with longing or regret) or the future (either with yearning or worry) to keep us out of the now, which is the only place God is. It is also the only place action can be taken; it is the place of power and agency.
So if you look at all that you’ve got going on, make a list of what you can actually do today. Put everything else in the God Jar. You can do this mentally and metaphorically, but some people find it helpful to get an actual jar with a lid, and put the things they can’t do anything about today on little slips of paper in the God Jar. Those things are God’s job to work out.
I like to think, “Dazzle me God” when I mentally trust anything to God, knowing that God has solutions beyond my imagining. I am often amazed at the working out of things. Also expressing gratitude in advance for all that God will do to bring solutions to your challenges is great too.
Once it is in the jar, it’s not on your plate to deal with. Only do what is your direct responsibility today. Yay, you don’t have to be God, be in control of everything, or figure it all out. Whew, you are off the hook.
Just be obedient and perform well your little piece of the puzzle today. Don’t get distracted by all that other stuff so you cannot move forward in some little ways today.
Putting things in the God Jar feels like being one of those horses in a parade with blinders on. That makes them less skittish, and able to move forward unperturbed, trusting their Caretaker to deal with the rabble on the sidelines..
Acknowledge that most things are outside our control. Instead of letting that make you anxious, trust God’s macro-oversight and omniscient intervention. Then get on with doing what you can do. It will all add up.
People often comment on how much I do. But I don’t do everything. (Just ask my husband who washes the dishes and does the laundry and grows amazing things in our garden.) I also don’t bring gas prices down, or push through gun control legislation. Maybe that’s yours to do. All I know is that whenever I’m doing anything, I’m all there, all in, not thinking of anything that’s in my version of the God Jar. I’m only doing what’s mine to do. Each day is different and it’s mostly small stuff, but truly, it does amazingly accrue.
So use a metaphorical or literal God Jar. Don’t carry all that extra stuff around that you are not doing anything about today. Focus on chopping that vegetable, running that errand, listening to that child, doing that job, or painting that painting. Whatever you are not doing, be clear that God has you covered behind the scenes as well as being present with you in all that you do.