Confessions of a Thief
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you (I Peter 5:7–NLT).
I fear I may be a thief.
There. I said it.
“How so?” perhaps one wonders. After all, it’s not that I pickpocket, and I don’t shoplift at the local market or Target. I’ve never knowingly taken anything that didn’t belong to me, in fact. Why, I even marched a toddler (who will remain nameless) back into a store once because we’d left with a glow stick he’d discovered and determined was his without paying for it.
On those rare occasions I’ve been given too much change at checkout, I’ve given the money back, and once–only once–I suppose I encouraged a thief who was shoplifting shoes at Kmart. We caught him and called him out, then invited him to put the shoes in our buggy so we could pay for them on his behalf. (We figured he must have needed them if he was willing to go to such lengths to steal a pair of off-brand tennies in broad daylight.)
Still, like him, I fear I, too, am a thief–because I so often steal.
I hand over my cares, my worries and fears, to God only to take them back again–robbing my Father of the joy and delight of carrying them for me. Getting up from my prayer time, it’s often only several breaths before I’m stealing back that which I’ve surrendered.
Am I alone in such thievery?
Take, for example, these petitions that, just this morning, I gave to Him:
The worry that I’ve offended a friend.
I tell God my concerns, confessing that I’m confused, saddened by her lack of response. Then I leave my prayer time feeling better… for a breath. But then I’m anxious again, rolling the worries over and over in my mind, much like a pebble in a flowing stream. Only, my worries don’t come forth polished and smooth but remain jagged and painful.
And what about the physical pain and emotional struggle of a friend who’s facing a serious medical problem.
I hand her to Abba, envision Him taking her into His loving embrace. But then, moments later, I’m worrying about her again, feeling angry that she has to face yet another struggle, as her life has been marred with hardships.
And then there’s the young mom battling postpartum.
Though she waited years to experience the delights of becoming a mother (a pain I understand in my own heart), she beats herself up daily because she can’t seem to climb out of the pit of despair and depression. “I’m missing out on the joy of having a child because I just can’t overcome my sadness.” My heart hurts for her, and I feel heavy with sorrow on her behalf. Lifting her to the Lord, I momentary have peace, until I leave my time of prayer.
And what about the needs beyond my own small community, those in the broader world.
Like children detained at the border. The many experiencing discrimination. People battling COVID-19. And those dying for their faith in foreign countries that remain closed to the Gospel. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. My head feels as though it might spin out of control as I attempt to wrap my thoughts around such countless tragedies, disparities, and woes. I cast these cares to God, only to steal them back again moments later.
Is it just me who takes one look at my reflection and is filled with doubt–crying out, “Help!”?
After all, who am I to make a difference? My petitions–aren’t they a mere drop in the bucket, my bucket only one of many, minuscule in the broad sea of this world’s shortcomings, burdens, and fears?
And Satan, the enemy of our souls–the one who robs, kills, and destroys (John 10:10)–wants to keep us from the freedom prayer affords. Indeed, he’s a thief--desiring that we stay stuck in the mire of worry, weighed down by this world’s imperfection. And he has lots of tactics to redirect us, keep us from wielding our sword, the weapon of God’s mighty Word.
One such tactic is to try to make us forget in Whose image we’ve been created. Satan wants us to look more like him, and he does this by scheming. He either aims to distract us so we forego prayer time altogether, perhaps justifying that the burdens are too many, our petitions are useless. Or Satan stirs up worry once we’ve said Amen, and we, like him, become thieves as we forget what we’ve given to God, stealing back what we’ve surrendered.
Yes, Satan knows. He’s wily that way. He knows the power in prayer–knows fully that this is where one casts her cares upon Jesus and feels the burdens lifted, her heart set free to live with joy and peace in this yet impoverished place. To be salt and light.
If Satan can simply get her to forego… or forget.
But honestly, both fall short of God’s best, plain and simple. And isn’t such sin? Because we’ve been called to pray.
Concerning foregoing prayer, Paul reminds us in Philippians 4–
…Pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done (v. 6b–NLT).
And regarding walking away and forgetting by worrying after we’ve prayed, Paul begins this same passage with–
Don’t worry about anything … (v. 6b–NLT).
Finally, what’s the promise–that which Satan wants to steal–if we heed these words?
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7–NLT).
So, Satan’s a thief.
Let’s not be like him by stealing too, by taking back all we surrender to our loving Savior. Get up from prayer and go! Live in the peace promised us by our heavenly Father when we cast our worries on Him, even if we must cast and cast again. It delights His heart when we trust Him enough…
Because He cares for us.
And don’t forget, sisters–we are created in God’s image, and we look an awful lot like Him!
Dear Jesus, help us grow to be prayer warriors who wield the power of Your Word and send the enemy fleeing. Help us to get up and walk with peace and joy, entrusting our burdens completely with You, because You’re more than capable of carrying them, and our surrender is Your delight. Amen.
How can I pray for you? Please pray for me!
(Click the song’s title to hear a beautiful reminder from Keith Green — I Want to Be More Like Jesus.)
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Maureen, this is one of your finest reflections yet. I am a thief in the way you have described as well, taking back matters that I’ve given over to God again and again and again and again. Glad that we can pray for each other.
Thank you for always being an encourager to me. And it’s always good to know one’s not alone. I commit, having been further convicted as the Lord led me to write this reflection, to press on in prayer… give to God and do my best NOT to steal back what I’ve surrendered to our Savior. In Jesus’ name!
Your posts always stop me in my tracks, cause me to take stock, and to want to live with the unwavering faith and conviction you live. Thanks for the honesty, the reality check, the lessons….always. Love you
I love you, Lisa. Our years of abiding friendship through thick and thin have added so much to my life, and I am beyond grateful for you. Praying for you, dear bestie. Committed to not steal back a single petition.
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