I’ve been revisiting Gary Zimak’s book, Give Up Worry for Lent!: 40 Days to Finding Peace in Christ. (Ave Maria Press, 2019) I read through it sometime ago and have been using it as a guide for my Lent 2019 journey. It’s been a fruitful resource for me. But as I look back over the pages, I’ve come to realize that the common-sense advice and guidance within its pages hold value for the rest of the year as well.
The book is structured as daily meditations throughout the six weeks of Lent and yet one could easily go back to it – as I’ve begun to do – and use it as a 40-day home retreat. No doubt you’ll catch bits of wisdom in its contents that were missed the first time around, as I did.
Take, for example, the meditation for Monday of the Second Week of Lent on Deliverance. The day’s meditation begins with a quote from Psalm 34: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
About that, Zimak writes:
That’s the beauty of an intimate relationship. Once you invite Jesus Christ into your life, you begin an adventure that is entirely out of your hands. He is going to bless you in ways you can’t imagine. One of those blessings will be an increased sense of peace. Just make sure that you don’t get ahead of him. As this verse clearly states, he will answer your requests to be delivered from your fears. It will probably not happen overnight, however. If you can learn to accept that, you are well on your way to the peace you desire
Here’s something you may not have considered. The Lord has been pursuing you for much longer than you’ve been pursuing him. Why? Because he loves you. In the parable of the Lost Sheep (see Matthew 18:12-14, Luke 15:3-7), Jesus tells the story of the shepherd who leaves his 99 sheep to seek out the one that was lost. It doesn’t matter how many other people have surrendered their lives to him; Christ wants you and will do anything to get you. You are mistaken if you feel that the events in your life are happening by accident. All of the trials and suffering that you face every day are designed to draw you closer to him. If you are struggling with anxiety, rest assured that he is using it to call you.
That’s wisdom that applies not only to Lent, but also to our entire lives.
Each day’s reflection begins with a Scripture verse and contains four sections: Read, Reflect, Respond and Pray. The sections form a perfect pattern to grow in our spirituality and release us from the worries that weigh us down.
In the Conclusion, Zimak encourages the reader to continue practicing the exercises learned in the book, pointing to the need to return to its pages again and again as necessary.
After reading this book, I can’t promise that you will never worry again. I will tell you that if you continue the practice of meeting the Lord through prayer, scripture and the sacraments, your level of peace will increase. How much? I can’t say exactly, but it is generally directly proportional to the amount of time you spend with him. As I’ve said before, I am an anxious person by nature. My mind typically gravitates to the worst-caves scenario. I have a strong tendency to play the ‘What if?’ game. My life changed dramatically when I encountered Jesus and surrendered my life to him.
Give Up Worry for Lent! is not just an excellent Lenten read, but truly a timeless resource for surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ and giving up worry for good.