One recent Saturday, I took two of my younger siblings to our state fair. When i first made the suggestion to our mom, she was worried, concerned about kidnapping and trafficking. Once the seed had been planted, I too began to worry. The night before, I lay in bed dreaming up scenarios that could happen while we were there. They certainly weren’t entirely unrealistic, but were possibly exaggerated.
The day dawned and once we arrived, events flowed smoothly. We were cautious, as always, but encountered no hints of a problem. My anxiety level lowered quickly in light of the reality of the day – they were perfectly well behaved, being careful and watchful themselves, and i was able to easily keep an eye on them. We had a blast.
I’ve been reading the story of a family whose 4 year old daughter went into unexpected heart failure. They’re sad and scared, of course, but also faithful, content, and filled with joy. I think to myself, “If that was my sister going through this….” or “If my brother had actually turned out to be that sick last year…” Mentally, I dream up scenarios again. In all of them, I am emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually inept. It is the worst of the worst. There is no joy.
And yet, that hasn’t been the reality of my experiences. Yes, I’ve been met with tragedy, with the unexpected, with the fear. But there has always, always been light.
In the books of John and 1 John we read that Jesus is light. Jesus is love. Throughout the gospels, we’re told not to be anxious. We’re told instead to abide in God. God who is light. God who is love. God in whom there is no darkness. God in whom fear is cast aside.
Anxiety is such a very real, very hard sin to bear. And, of course, we’re not meant to. As amazing as imagination and creativity is, we’re not made to dwell there. We’re made to dwell in light that is formed of perfect love, steadfastness, faithfullness, truth, and justice.
I cannot focus on anxiety and the kingdom at the same time. I cannot live in fear and in love at the same time. I must choose, each and every day to fix my eyes on Christ and the cross.
When I reflect on many of the worries I’ve encountered in my life, most have not come to pass. When i reflect on many of the hardships I’ve encountered in my life, most I’ve been inexplicably able to bear. My worries have been worse than reality. And my reality has been far less powerful than my God.