You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.’ ” Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. Deut. 1:27-33 The first step in recovery is acknowledging you have a problem…from healing a sinus infection to a drug addiction to a broken marriage. I am beginning to acknowledge the fact that I worry. The problem with worry isn’t just that “we’re not supposed to do it” but the problem with worry is that it consumes thought, energy and focus that ought to be directed to loving and serving my children, husband, family, friends and neighbors. I can’t be present with them when I am pre-occupied with concern for things that aren’t right in front of me. At the heart of my worry and lovelessness is a lack of faith. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:25-26 I have greater faith in my self-reliant (which disguises itself in “responsibility” and “preparedness”) than in the completed work of Jesus on my behalf. How much time do I waste scripting out a conversation that I might have with someone in the future? I do this so as not to be caught off guard as if any actual dialogue with another person would ever follow my exact train of thought from start to finish and not be immediately off script the minute the other person genuinely entered into the thought process. I’m trying to control ahead of time what has never been in my control.
And why do I spend so much time worrying about what I will say or how I will pay for future bills or creating a script for an upcoming activity I’d like to see happen? It is because deep down, I really am trying to add hours to my life by avoiding anything potentially stressful, any moment of delay due to not having thought through the answers to questions that might be asked or the dreaded punishment of not having done my homework before that next class starts. But it wasn’t Joseph’s foresight that saved Israel from famine, it was God’s plan even before Joseph was sent to Egypt. Or take an opposite example: Jonah. He knew clearly what God was asking him to do and deliberately ran the other way. God’s plan was not thwarted, Jonah wasn’t discarded as unusable because of his disobedience, the Ninevites heard the Gospel and God was glorified. God’s plans and my tomorrows are not resting on my clear mindedness, my foresight, my responsible budgeting, my perfect obedience or advanced wisdom and understanding. God’s plans and my tomorrows are resting fully on Him, on the person and work of Jesus which also attained my record of perfect obedience and in whom alone are found the riches of wisdom and understanding. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20 There is no qualifier to those verses, such as “except when you are too tired to pray, at which time He is not living in you” or “except when you are lazy and don’t plan ahead, in which case, Christ is no longer living in you.” Nothing can separate me from His love or His commitment to His redemptive plan. Do I not trust Him to order my steps? Do I not trust His care and commitment to complete the good work that He alone began? Do I not believe what He said, that He works in me to will and to act according to His good purpose? Did His will not include rescue of the Israelites from Egypt, despite their blindness to His bigger purposes, despite their grumbling and complaining, despite their hearts which readily accepted new idols to worship? Did His will include Jonah’s running away, Joseph’s brothers’ wicked treatment of him, Judas’ betrayal, the snake’s activity in the Garden? Did His will include Peter’s well-intentioned but totally misdirected act of cutting off the soldier’s ear in defense of Jesus? Did it include his own disciples’ total lack of understanding Who Jesus really was, even as they mourned His death and were left confused? Of course it did…and all these things were and are working together for God’s good purposes of redemption in all of His creation. None of those are “off script” in God’s beautiful story. None of those represent a momentary lapse in God’s control or goodness, perfections or strength, authority or love.
My need to have tomorrow all lined up today reveals how little I trust that God has tomorrow all lined up already. All of the blessings and curses of the covenant were met in the person of Jesus, by His life, death and resurrection, into and by which I have been hidden, covered, clothed and identified. My status as His dependent and cared for child does not ebb and flow based on my faithfulness each hour, but remains steady because of Jesus’ faithfulness on earth as it is in heaven. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:9-11 All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:25-27