Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Anxious Thoughts

I went for a short walk tonight after dark. It was a beautiful, cold winter night. The coming snowstorm hadn't yet blotted out the stars. The snow creaked sharply under my boots. The woods were perfectly still, as though the trees were holding their breath. It was a beautiful night.

And yet, some of the beauty was lost on me, because of the uneasiness that comes with being alone in the dark. The last time I went for a nighttime walk, I had a strong brother with me, and thought hardly a moment about my safety. But now, my ears were strained for the noise of footsteps behind me, my eyes searched the snowy landscape. Why the difference? Was it that there were more dangers tonight? No, of course not. Was it that before, I was sure my brother could defend me from every possible danger or combination of threats? No, I knew he would do everything within his power to keep me safe, but surely there are some dangers that no man can ward off singlehandedly. I think the difference was that tonight, the responsibility of my safety rested in my hands, whereas before, I trusted my brother entirely to protect me. It was his responsibility, and so I didn't think a moment about it, but thoroughly enjoyed tramping about in the snow.

I wonder why it is that, though I can trust a human being so completely, I struggle to entrust myself utterly to God. Why, when I begin to worry about something, can I not remember, "It's His responsibility," and trust Him so fully that I forget to be anxious? I sure would enjoy the walk more.

Last night I was struck by the last two verses of Psalm 139, especially the phrase, "Try me and know my anxious thoughts." Why did the psalmist ask God to know his anxious thoughts? Why not his sorrowful thoughts, his perplexed thoughts, his wrong thoughts?

Could it be that David recognized that his anxious thoughts were the keys to the real issues of his life, the things that were important to him? If I want a summary of my priorities, all I have to do is notice the things that I'm being anxious about. Am I anxious for my success, my reputation, my glory, my comfort? Then those are my priorities. Am I anxious for God's glory, for the success of His work, for souls to be saved and Christians to grow in the Lord? Then perhaps those are my priorities. But wait! Does God really want me to be anxious about even those things? True, He wants me to desire the things He desires, and perhaps to have fellowship with Him in sorrowing over the things that break His heart. But has He not also said, "Be anxious for nothing," "casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you."?

Imagine what it would be like to live with absolutely no anxiety! No anxiety over big things, decisions I must make or challenges I face. No anxiety over little things, how to organize my day, or whether I'll be able to reach the store before it closes. No anxiety over the things that will happen, no anxiety about the things that could happen. No anxiety about the snowstorm that's coming tomorrow, or about the gas prices going up. No anxiety about the direction in which the new administration will take our country. No anxiety about the traffic lights that turn red just before I get to them. No anxiety about what others will think of me. No anxiety about anything.

"But," we find ourselves saying, "I'm not really anxious about those things. Just concerned, trying to be responsible." People who are responsible, make sure that responsibilities are given to the people who can handle them. I can't do a thing about the weather, nor about the traffic lights, nor about the gas prices. And with so many of the other things I get anxious about, there are some actions that I can and should take, but then my job is just to give it to the One Who is ultimately responsible for them. He loves to bear our burdens, and He doesn't need our help to bear His. We can be glad for everything that is beyond our power, because that means that it's His responsibility. We get to simply enjoy the walk!

1 comment:

  1. It is so easy to worry and forget that God has everything under control. Thanks for the reminder that He cares for us, and wants us to trust Him!