I am a compulsive worrier. I know worrying is wrong because I serve a God who wrote my life story before the creation of the world, and nothing takes Him by surprise . . . but sometimes it’s really, really hard to take my whirling, fretful, chaotic thoughts captive.
Some days are better than others, of course. I’m so thankful that the Lord blessed my time with Him early this morning, long before the rest of the house was awake. After praying and sitting quietly with my Bible, I felt so much quieter and more peaceful than I did yesterday, when my inner turmoil left me feeling pretty drained by the time I got home from work.
Of course I’d love to be able to say that having a good solid quiet time every morning will solve all your worries forevah and evah–but alas, I don’t think it works that way. Oswald Chambers writes that “the mountains” are meant to bolster us for the valleys.
“We are not built for the mountains . . . [T]hose are for moments of inspiration, that is all. We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle. Spiritual selfishness always wants repeated moments on the mount. We feel we could talk like angels and live like angels, if only we could stay on the mount. The times of exaltation are exceptional, they have their meaning in our life with God, but we must beware lest our spiritual selfishness wants to make them the only time.”
During those periods (sometimes very long periods) in the valley, I have to remember and believe that God wants me to trust. To “take a deep breath and trust [His] sovereignty,” as a dear friend of mine told me yesterday. To remember that even though I can’t see what He’s doing, I don’t have to be tense as a bowstring, biting my fingernails and fretting that I’ll make some disastrous mistake while I’m waiting for His direction and guidance.
That kind of fear is paralyzing. I don’t want to live like that, and yet it’s hard for me to be brave and relax. Especially when I feel myself losing some pet illusion of control over my own life.
I remember, when we were in a home church, a lesson my dad taught about trusting God. I remember he used a little boy in our church as an example: he told “S” to close his eyes and fall backwards into Daddy’s waiting arms. It was difficult for “S” to be confident, of course, that Mr. Tom would catch him; he instinctively tensed up and braced his feet, just in case Mr. Tom was playing some cruel trick.
That’s how I often feel. God says “Trust me” and I say “Okay, but let me brace myself first in case You step aside and decide not to catch me”–when what I should do is close my eyes and rest. Besides, he won’t let me fall. “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)
Life isn’t always easy and the path isn’t always as clear as I’d like it to be. Sometimes I feel like I’m moving merrily along with life and then BOOM–everything goes dark and I’m taking itty-bitty teeny-tiny steps in the dark on a very narrow road. I know I’ll reach a fork at some point and I know that once I reach the fork, the lights will come back on–but walking down that road in the dark . . . well, as TJ used to say when he was little and playing a difficult video game, “This is the tricky part.”
“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts. It is easy to talk oneself into a decision that has no permanence-easier sometimes than to wait patiently.”–Elisabeth Elliot, Passion & Purity
While I take those tiny steps, I can only cling to promises that my head knows are true; I just have to embrace them in my heart.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” (Isaish 43:1a-3a)
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
“Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.” (Psalm 25:12)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
He WILL be with me; He WILL quiet me with His love; He WILL instruct me in the way chosen or me; He WILL make my paths straight.
And then, as I remember those divine promises and embrace them, I just need to relax, let it go (*waiting for my fellow Frozenites to burst into song in 3, 2, 1 . . .*), and enjoy the life and adventures God has given me. I wasn’t created to live in fear, but in victory and joy. As Corrie ten Boom so delightfully put it: