Yesterday I took my car in because the check engine light had come on, it was smelling weird and both headlights went out at once. I have been thinking “the end is near “every time I drive my car, and that taking the car in would just confirm my fears. As we waited for the phone call with a cup of coffee and some breakfast, I finally had the opportunity to tell my dad how I was feeling. Not just about the car, but life.
One of my gifts is the gift of long-suffering. It is not really a glamorous one because long-suffering, at it’s heart, is the slow endurance of frustrating or painful situations. It’s not saying “everything will work out just fine!” at the first sign of rain, it’s not being a door mat, and it’s not passive inaction. Long-suffering is a choice to ride the wave to shore, regardless of how high the wave or how far the shore.
It’s grown in me over the past 8 years, and I can look back and say that without this treasure that has blossomed in my spirit, I would have burned many bridges and had many regrets. So while it’s not teaching or hospitality or anything, it’s exactly what my life has needed and what I need.
Back to yesterday. I was upset and said that most of the reason I was upset was because I was anxious – I want to know details right NOW in this moment. I want to be able to write down plans, times and dates and have a clear idea of what lies ahead. Just like Jonny Lang sings…
“I’ve been running this road for this first time;
I’d sure like to know what’s ahead.”
My dad urged me to find out, told me I had the right to find out and that I needed to. And the Holy Spirit went off in me like a siren.
Dad, I said, The Bible says to be anxious about nothing, and that’s something I need to learn.
Because here’s the thing. The Bible tells us not to do a bunch of stuff, and a lot of it is in response to situations we are in. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, do not fear, don’t be anxious, do not worry… and the answer to these things is not to get out of the situations. The answer to these things is to trust, to trust and not fear. To be still and know that He is God.
In order to not be anxious, the temptation to be anxious has to be there. It’s easy to not be anxious when you have nothing you’re concerned about. Tell me “do not fear” in the middle of the day with sun on my face, and I’ve got it down. “Do not fear” is tested, relevant and important alone in the dark.
We run not from people, places and things, but from our tendency to be unfaithful, doubting followers. Isn’t that what those emotions are, anyway? Doubting that God is not only in control, but has woven the web of my life with my best interest in mind, not to make me some clone version of other Christians but to lovingly and tenderly shape me to be the most Christ-reflecting Stephanie that I can be.
Today, I’m choosing to look at my worries straight on and say “my God is bigger and is using you to make me look more like Jesus, if I can only choose to trust.”
This, then, must be the secret of the Apostle Paul who learned to be content in every circumstance. God give me the strength to follow his footsteps.
ps my car was just fine; we just needed new headlights.