Some summers ago I had a sweet little bitty girl with a cute, ruffle-y pink bathing suit on with big polka dots, and a princess crown on her head. I recall with clarity a specific hot summer day when she absolutely and categorically refused to get into the swimming pool with us. She wanted to, but she could not overcome her fear. She came close a lot of times. We tried to coax her into the water by holding her securely. We tried to hold her hands to help her navigate the steps at her own speed. We tried to make a game out of jumping in – but nothing, and I mean nothing, could convince that child that this was a good idea. She spent the day around the pool, but never made it in.
We wondered out loud, “Why won’t she jump?” We were standing right there – holding her securely – but all we were ever met with was screaming protests. Who wants to make a child have fun so much that they have to let them scream themselves into believing you? We didn’t. So we let her play by the side of the pool – in the shallow, unsatisfying, barely there puddles, while the rest of us enjoyed the depth of the goodness of the wonderfully cool and refreshing water on an oppressively hot summer day.
I know, I know – there were a million “reasons” she didn’t want to get in – unfamiliarity, temperature, sounds, splashes – but they all boiled down to one thing: fear. She was worried about what was to come if she let herself be drawn in, and there was nothing that we could do or say that could convince her that she would be OK.
Despite the fact that we had never once neglected her, or failed to keep her safe and sound, she doubted us so much that she could not believe that we would keep her safe in the water. She was keeping herself safe out of it.
That’s quite a statement from a two-year old.
But don’t we do the same thing every time we worry?
Don’t we resolutely deny the goodness of a loving Father every time we skirt around issues or circumstances in order to avoid what we think He’s calling us to do? Jump in, God? What are you, NUTS??
I don’t typically have the guts to address God in quite those terms, but I am, in effect, saying exactly that every time I worry.
“God, you’ve got to be crazy to expect me to go through that!”
“Lord, this is ridiculous! Only an idiot would go down that road!”
“Look, God, you’ve got this all wrong. Sensible people just don’t do this sort of thing.”
Luke 12:22ff is where we are in our sermon series at Bethel. (You can listen to this week’s sermon here – it was piercing.) Jesus lovingly shows his disciples the folly of worry – how it accomplishes nothing, yet reveals much.
It made me ask myself, “Just what, exactly, do I hope to accomplish when I worry?”
When I go down those imaginary roads of, “what if…?” I have comforted myself by thinking that I’m trying to figure something out. I’m usually trying to mentally put some missing piece of the puzzle of my circumstances into place in order to know what’s coming. I think, “if this (which I’ve had to make up), then that (which I also have to make up), then x, y, and z must surely follow” (which…) You get the picture. I’ve had to fabricate an entire scenario…. and I feel better with that??? Really? Rather than trust in a sovereign God, I feel better believing my own lies?
Somehow the foolish part of this seems to be a little clearer to me when I put it in these terms.
Our pastor made a statement that has successfully wedged its way through my protective coating of having things under control: “What you seek after reveals what you value, and what you worry about reveals what you fear losing.”
Too many times I seek after the wrong things and it is revealed by what I worry about. Safety, security, ease, comfort … I know I’m not alone, but that is no excuse.
I can picture the scene – Jesus talking to his disciples and telling them stories that reveal their deepest struggles. It had to be piercing for them, just as it was for me, to see just how foolish their worries have been. But he loved them, as he does us, and you can hear how he tenderly scoops them up in his arms as it were: “Do not be afraid little flock”! “For your Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom”! It’s as if he’s saying, “Trust me! This is totally under control!”
Next time, instead of worrying about the multitude of things that rob you of joy and reveal your lack of faith in the loving care of Christ the King, jump in and see what wonderful goodness is here for you to enjoy!