Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.*
My three-year-old daughter, Peanut, thinks that a Cold Draft is a scary monster. A few weeks ago, she asked me why I had closed my closet door. I explained that there was a cold draft coming from the closet and I needed to keep the door closed so the draft didn’t come in the room and make my bedroom cold. She stared hard at the closet.”There’s a Cold Draft in there?”
Well, I could see what was happening and tried to nip the bud as best I could, explaining that a cold draft is like a breeze or the wind; it’s just air, it’s nothing to be scared of, it is just cold air, etc. Nothing got through.
Since then, she’s gone around shutting doors, holding out her hand, and shouting in her best exorcist voice, “No! Stay back, Cold Draft! You can’t come in here!!” Every little sound she hears: “Maybe it’s a Cold Draft…” with wide eyes and curled fingers cupping her face.
We’ve tried (but long since given up) explaining that there’s nothing EVEN REMOTELY scary about a cold draft, but it doesn’t make a difference. I think she may actually understand, but she enjoys holding onto the belief that it’s something scary and it’s a fun game to play. (And if she’s going to go around commanding things to stay back, probably just as well that it be Cold Drafts.)
It got me thinking, though (as often happens in parenting) about the similar struggle God must have with us—in this case, in telling us not to be afraid.
There are plenty of scary things in life. I don’t really think God dismisses or diminishes the reality that we face things that are legitimately scary or hard or sad or painful. But, time and again, he seems to say, “If you truly understand me, if you really know the life I bring, you’ll trust me. I am here. Do not fear.”
I’ll be honest; I’ve had very few difficult situations to face in my life so far. I know that won’t always be the case; every human life inevitably has suffering and pain. No matter what lies ahead, now is the time to so order my life around Christ that I see the future is full of Him, and therefore the future is nothing to fear.
Despite my somewhat ordinary life, the one area where God has opened the opportunity for me to practice faith and set aside my fear has been with job changes, moves, and other major life decisions. I naturally want to think through all the options, all the possibilities, and fret. But God has, and continues to, reshape my natural inclinations here.
When I was younger, I had a dream (or one of those weird falling-asleep-but-still-conscious dreams) where I had a big tray full of odd blocks that I was struggling with. I kept trying to figure out how to put them together or make anything with them. Then, in my dream, it seemed like God said, “Let go,” and gently pulled my hands away. I watched with a mix of despair and relief as all the blocks slid off the tray and out of my control. As they fell into God’s hands, they formed into a perfect, ornate, intricate structure far surpassing anything I could have imagined.
Time and again over the past 15 years or so since I had that dream, I’ve seen this play out in my life. As I choose to trust, rather than fear, I’ve seen God do far more than I could have ever imagined or created on my own.
I’m facing some more major life changes in the near future, changes that are full of unpredictability and uncertainty. God’s faithfulness in the past—both to me personally in our relationship, as well as His boundless faithfulness throughout history—is such a blessing and a steady reminder that trust in Him is never misplaced.
I hope I can exercise faith here, taking to heart the injunction,
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.**
After all, I know how frustrating it can be to deal with a needlessly worried child… 😉
What ways have you had to actively trust God? How have you given your fretting and the control of the situation over to Him? How do you turn your worry into prayer? (That’s not rhetorical or an admonition—seriously, give me some ideas!) 🙂
*”Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” by Charles Wesley
**Philippians 4:6-7, The Message