Sunday, October 4, 2009

Even If

--
I come from a long line of worry warts. Both my grandmothers were masters of the art of fretting. My mother, to her credit, has greatly overcome many of her worrying tendencies by choosing to pray instead, but she would be the first to tell you that the worry gene is a tough one to overcome.

When I left home at 18 to go to a Bible college 1200 miles from home, my fledgling ability to worry went into overdrive. Every time the phone rang, my imagination flashed a scene of hearing horrible news of a catastrophic car accident that had killed my entire family, leaving me alone in the world. If I was meeting someone and they were a few minutes late, I just knew they were dead in a ditch somewhere. I felt as though I was constantly one heartbeat away from being blindsided by tragedy.


Somehow, worry felt like a small measure of control--if I worried about everything, at least if it did happen, it wouldn't take me by surprise. You hear the stories all the time--"I thought I just had a hangnail, but it was cancer and they had to amputate my entire arm." I couldn't stand the thought of that kind of drastic shock, so in some way, worry would at least take that out of the equation--you're not going to catch me off guard, I thought.


My life became torment. I couldn't fully enjoy good things I was experiencing for fear of what awful event might be just around the corner. I wasted time and energy worrying about things that weren't even happening. Incessant what-iffing, was almost like experiencing tragedy after tragedy, dying a thousand deaths, and my stress and anxiety increased.


Finally, battered from the long months of grappling with dread (which, I think, may be even worse than worry) I came to a crossroads--would I stay like this forever, or choose to do otherwise?


ENOUGH! I finally had had enough. This was not the life I wanted! I knew better than this!!


I stood alone, out in the darkness, approaching the mysterious moon like heaven's customer service desk, my touchpoint for meeting with the One whose sky I beheld.

What did I want from Him?

I had been wanting guarantees that nothing bad would ever happen to me or the people I loved. At 20, I had lived just long enough to know that wasn't reasonable, and that God never promised a life free of pain. I had spent the last 2 years wracked with worry about relentless "what if's." I was bone-tired of the life of constant dread that was sucking the life out of me. I knew this wasn't what God wanted for His daughter.


What did I want from Him?


Rest. Peace. Relief. Victory. Joy.


TRUST ME.

But what if . . . ?

TRUST ME.

Deep breath. This was scary!

EVEN IF.

I. Trust. You. Even. If.


YES. Even if all those bad things were to happen, I want You more than I dread pain.


At that very moment I felt the fear lose the power I had given it. I was free. Rest. Peace. Relief. Victory. Joy. The things I asked Him for flooded into the space left by the fleeing fear.


In the 25+ years since that night, I have had to make that choice again and again, but never again has fear had me in it's icy grip like that. Practically none of the things I worried about have actually happened. Now when the old worry gene gets activated by life's hiccups, I know that TRUST IN HIM is the way to turn it off again. I used to think that prayer was the answer to worry, but now I believe that prayer is the opposite of worry.

"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 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."
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT







If you are afflicted with the worry wart gene, or it's just a habit you've fallen into, there is hope! Walk right up to the brink of what you're worrying about and when you look over the edge, you'll find Jesus is there to catch you before you even have a chance to fall. Choose to trust God more than you fear anything in this life--He is worthy! How can I pray for you as we learn together to trust Him?

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