And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28
This verse is a guiding light on my path along this life. It is my chant, my mantra, if you will, to borrow from our Hindu and Buddhist friends…I repeat it to myself over and over and over again in my head when situations don’t seem to be going my way. It brings me comfort and it helps me feel better about whatever may be happening. It reminds me that He is in Control and that He decides the destiny. It assures me that I am not a slave to my current circumstances, and that no matter how bad things may seem, something good will come out of it at some point.
The verse just came to mind as I was thinking about how much of a failure I feel like whenever I give into fear…
I have been afraid for too long. It has become a way of life. I worry and worry and worry some more…perpetuating the cycle of discouragement that so often tortures me with thoughts of despair. The despair comes quickly when I remember fear is a sign of lack of trust…of disbelief…then I sink in deeper as guilt pounds me down even more…
Just when I feel I am finally overcoming my fear and anxiety about, in this case, upcoming tests…I fall again, and the spells of cold sweats, stomach churnings and chills down my spine begin anew.
In my particular case, fear also brings bad temper, harsh behavior, impatience and lack of self-control. All such wonderful qualities…(insert sarcasm)…sigh…
When I am nervous, worried, anxious and afraid about _______________ (today is a test, next week will be…who knows?) I explode at the slightest provocation. Most of the time it has to do with my sons not listening/obeying/cleaning their junk/watching TV too loud/asking for lunch…etc. etc. And as such, they pay the price of my irritability by having to hear me roar/yell/scream…etc. etc. etc.
I hate being like that! I can’t stand me!
I try to control myself. I do well for a while…then I fall again into the screaming match. Then I feel guilty. Then I get more worried. Then I remember the upcoming test. Then I worry even more. Then I think about how much I truly love these boys. Then I am scared. Then I feel like I’m miles away from God. Then I really get scared!
I am exhausted!
The other day, however, something I read long ago in a little fiction book called The Shack by Wm. Paul Young came to mind. I was never crazy about that book, but this one part has stuck with me over the years. This was a moment when the figure that represented God the Father was talking to the main character, Mack. God said:
“Remember, Mackenzie, I don’t wonder what you will do, example, I am trying to teach you how not to hide inside lies – hypothetically, of course…and let’s say that I know it will take you forty-seven situations and events before you will actually hear me – that is, before you will hear clearly enough to agree with me and change. So when you don’t hear me the first time, I’m not frustrated or disappointed, I’m thrilled. Only forty-six more times to go! And that first time will be a building block to construct a bridge of healing that one day – that today – you will walk across.” (p. 189)
It does seem like an interesting glimpse to our lives from God’s perspective. And, although I’m not sure about that book, I do know God is teaching me how to trust Him unconditionally and that’s what all these tests (literal and spiritual) are all about. I do know He is taking me farther and farther with each passing trial. I do see clearer and clearer how His presence is, indeed, within me. I do hear His voice louder and louder above all the noise, even my own screaming. So, perhaps, it might be true that I am less and less falls away from the goal of overcoming my fear and fully relaying on Him for everything.
I sure pray that is the case!
I pray I not only repeat Scripture in my mind, but that I internalize it, assimilate it, believe it, trust it and make it as indispensable to my life as air itself. I also pray that in the meantime, I learn how to extend myself some grace, forgive my shortcomings and learn to see myself as what I am…a child of God who is still on this journey through life…a work in progress.