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From the Chairman


IBG Chairman Chuck Hayes

Awareness, Agency and Anxiety


We live in an anxious world. I was stressing that I was late writing this article! Many have hung onto news in vain hope for an end to the major war in Ukraine. Covid is still here, and, at least in Minnesota, spring isn’t. Spring is AWOL and there is no end to winter in sight. Inflation, tame for 40 years, has been rediscovered and unleashed upon the population. How are those on fixed incomes and those on the bottom of the economic scale going to survive? Take a minute and see how long a list of unresolved issues you can list. It is exhausting!

Last month I used a devotional with an awesome quote from Twitter by Rev. Dr. Glenn Packiam: “When our Awareness outpaces our Agency, we are left with Anxiety”.

Awareness: We live in an information saturated world and enjoy the many benefits to social media and the connected world of the internet. Information is available at out fingertips all day and all night if we so choose. As a result, we have much greater awareness of many more things than we did even 10 years ago. But one unintended consequence of having enormous access to information and greater awareness is that our capacity to act on that awareness has not kept pace.

Agency: Agency is our ability to act on or influence something we are aware of. If the neighbors snowblower is broken, I can lend them mine. That’s agency – being able to act on our awareness and bring resolution. As Christians, we are agents. We are agents of Jesus Christ to love others as much as we love ourselves. To love sacrificially as Christ modeled. To stand against evil and injustice. To love the unlovable and to close gaps when we see them. But sometimes, the gaps we see are enormous.

I can see the evil in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but I cannot individually stop it. Covid continues to rage across the globe, yet I cannot myself cure it. I was going to use a “lawnmower” in the example a paragraph above, but I have absolutely no control over the weather, so I insert “snowblower” and worry about when my spring crops will go in. Can you imagine the anxiety felt by Polish relief workers when 2.6 million terrified Ukrainians came rushing over the border with nothing but the clothes on their back? We, all of us, have way more Awareness in our lives than we have Agency with which to respond.

Just recognizing that fact provides some relief, but recognition does not fully remove the burden. Enter God into this most human condition. Phil 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” NIV When our Awareness overwhelms our agency and produces anxiety, we can still act. The first action is Prayer. Bring it before God, the One whose agency is never outstripped by any awareness in the world. God knows this broken world will make you anxious. But you have an outlet for every last shred of excess awareness.

Prayer can be applied to any lack of agency we have, but we can often do our small part to address the gaps we see. I scheduled time this afternoon to finish this article which was stressing me a couple days ago. You can make a small dent in hunger by providing to a local food shelf, trusting God has the agency to cover the rest of the gap. IBG can’t stop the evil war in Ukraine, but we have almost completed our $3000 Special Ask to provide Bibles to Ukraine. It’s a small act of hope in an enormous tragedy, but we have agency to do at least this. Do what you can do and pass the anxiety on to God through prayer – to the One whose agency creates good even from enormous evil.

Give Hope. Give Life. Give Bibles! CJH