I made a list this morning. Actually, I made several lists:
*a list for the places I needed to go, in order of need
*a list for what I needed to get at each location
*An awful, uncomfortable, wrestling-with-my-heart list.
This morning I woke up with a raging headache, mostly likely from a combination of too much neck-bent reading, bathroom painting, and the week-I-go-back-to-work-and-begin-another-school-year tension.
Determined to live this day calmly and productively, I settled down with a cup of coffee and the Lord on the farmer’s porch. I began praying and pondering where God wanted to lead my heart this morning, sorely needing the balm of His Peace.
Guess where He led me? Not on some pleasant exploration of joy and Christian pleasantry. Not to the models of faithful living. Nope. Not today. Today He led me into some of the dark crevices of my own heart. Ugh.
From the outside, I imagine I might appear to be a steady, faithfully confident woman. Maybe it looks like I can handle whatever comes my way without a second thought or hesitancy. (Thank you for letting me indulge my shameless desire to appear to have it all together, for a moment. A litte wishful thinking here… ) Inside, however, I’m like any other person trying to live faithfully on this faulted planet. I struggle daily to give the completeness of my heart over to God and trust His will in my life. (Oh, please say that I am not alone!)
What God helped me discover this morning, is how bound by the chains of FEAR I am. I am embarrassed to say it out loud here. It seems so, UNfaithful, and Untrusting—the opposite of how I know I should live and feel, and surely the opposite of what I desire and aim for. But it’s there.
While I was busy making lists in order to gain control over what is bound to be a very busy, exhausting day, and not at all how I would choose to spend it, God prompted me to use this list-making on our walk this morning. I resisted at first, because writing things down makes them real, and gives them a sense of permanence and importance.
Some things I’d rather not have permanent or important.
However, list-making can help clarify and order things. It can help time-manage. It helps me break big things down into manageable pieces, where I am rewarded and motivated by the progress I see as I cross things off.
So I made my list.
The list was a list of all that I seemed to be carrying this morning and lately. Once I began listing (and it went on FAR too long for my comfort), I realized that each item on the list had one common thread.
Before I began this morning, God placed His gentle admonition on my heart:
Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7
So I listed, and I cast. And listed and cast some more. Okay, I’ll be brave and share some of that list with you.
FEAR over a loved one’s soul and his emotional health.
FEAR over not being good enough at my job to retain it in the coming years.
FEAR that there is never enough time to do what must be done and that I have not used my 51+ years to the maximum, as God desires, and that time will run out.
FEAR that I am missing God’s nudging for change. Wanting change, but FEARing change.
FEAR that while beginning to plan retirement, it won’t happen soon enough to live the life that I envision.
FEAR that my daughter and husband are so far away, we won’t remain close to them and their future family.
FEAR that I have totally messed up as a Christian mother and wife–have not been or am who I should be.
FEAR, and terror, really, that I will sink into the depths of dementia and Alzheimer’s, like my father, and totally lose myself and be a long burden to my family. FEAR that as a result of that, I will lose my control over words—writing, thinking, speaking them.
Naming my fears did two things:
*It brought them out of the fuzzy darkness of spirit-unrest and with clarity came the “Aha!” Now I see my Enemy’s grip (how strong it is) and can call on the Lord to loosen it.
*It helped me analyze, with God’s help, the common cause. This helps me lift it out and cast it down to Him. When each thing is considered individually, it’s like gathering an overwhelming abundance of loose pieces, and dropping some as I pick up others. I never get the full bundle laid down. The image that comes to mind is when I forget to grab the laundry basket, yet try and remove a full bundle of laundry from the dryer and carry it to the bedroom where I can fold it. The socks are always escaping, and as I lean over to pick them up, more things fall out of my arms. Putting it all in one basket makes it infinitely easier to manage.
Realizing the common thread, the true root of all this anxiousness over things I cannot control, forces me back into the arms of Jesus. The Truth here is that the Good Shepherd, will watch out for me. He will envelope me in safety and calm.
Fret not…Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will dwell in the land and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act…Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; fret not. Psalm 37
Be content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” Hence, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5,6
So, this morning I learned a little bit more about myself (Ugh!), and about recognizing the grip of sin for what it is. Going forward today, I am determined to invite God into every minute of preoccupied “sock-gathering” that eats away at my energy and calm spirit.
Blessings be on your journey and YOUR list-making.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.