Thursday, January 16, 2014
For years and years and years, I've been a worrier. It started when I was a child although I don't remember what brought on the first bout of worrying. I know I worried over silly things like "what if she doesn't like me?" or "what if I don't get invited to that party?" but those silly childish worries soon gave way to bigger, teenage worries and then even bigger adult worries. All of the "what ifs" in my life compounded my fear and anxiety. For some reason, I allowed myself much time to dwell on all the "what ifs." The grip of fear held fast to my wrist, squeezing and squeezing and squeezing. Did I realize that I was a worrier? Oh yes. Did I like it? Oh no.
I could tell you story after story of how anxiety and fear crippled my life but that would turn into a book, so I will only tell you about one story. This story began in 2004. I was working for a mega church in the Atlanta area. I'd been working there for about 6 years and loved it. One day, I was approached by a coworker who asked me to pray about being part of a mission team that was going to China. To say I was shocked was a huge understatement! Me...a missionary to China??? Get out! As she witnessed the shock and confusion on my face, she said, "just pray about it." So I did. I began praying that very day and for the following year.
At first my prayers were simple..."okay God, what are you doing? Are you kidding? You want me to go to China???" Satan was hot on my heels and was constantly whispering in my ear, "you're no missionary! You're not good enough to go on that trip...are you kidding? Who do you think you are???" So I dug into my Bible and began studying. I read verse after verse about faith. I read verse after verse about worry. I read verses on fear, verses on trust and I kept on praying.
My coworker and I began to meet every day at lunch to pray about the trip. She was very patient and kind. She understood my fears. I explained to her that I'd never been out of the country. That I'd never flown over 2 hours at a time before. I explained that I had never been on a mission trip, that I didn't speak Mandarin, that I felt so inadequate...excuse, after excuse I gave as to why I didn't think I was the right one to go on the trip. She took my hand and looked me in the eyes and said, "just trust...just pray."
Fear began to grow as I seriously contemplated going on the trip. The what ifs began playing hide and seek in my mind...what if the plane crashes...what if you are captured and imprisoned in China- never to see your family again...what if ...what if...what if.... I tried hard not to listen to the voices of fear as they screamed in the recesses of my mind...you aren't good enough...you aren't a missionary....but the voices got louder and louder.
As I continued to read and study God's Word, I realized that I had given over too much ground to fear and worry. I was anxious all the time and there was no need to be. In John 14;1, I read "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God.; trust also in me." There was that word again...trust. And then in Romans 15:13, I read "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so you may overflow." I was coming to realize that if I truly believed in God's Word that I was going to have to learn to let go. I was going to have to unclench my fists that were clinging so tightly to the worry and fear in my life and just trust. I was going to have to unclench those fists and do something!
Do something? What was I going to do? As I studied the New Testament, one word kept coming to my mind..."pisteuo." It's a Greek verb that means "to trust, to put one's faith in." Wow. Then I moved on to a verse in John 6:29 (Amplified Bible) where Jesus says "This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent (that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger). Jesus said that God wanted me to trust! Pisteuo! He wanted me to put that trust into action! Suddenly, the blinders fell off my eyes and I could see clearly. I felt the grip of fear loosen and finally set me free.
I began to understand that all my what ifs were moot. If the plane crashed, didn't I trust that God would take care of me? If I were imprisoned, didn't I trust that God would work all of it out for my good? Yes! Finally I learned to "just trust."
My coworker was so excited the day I went to her and told her that I would be a part of the trip. She smiled and said, "I knew you would, all you had to do was just trust." As I left her office, I smiled. I was so thankful that God used fear to teach me a valuable lesson. I learned not to let fear and worry rob me of the joy that faith and trust bring. I learned that trust is everything and that fear keeps us imprisoned in the grip of what ifs.
Every once and a while, Satan slithers a little snake of fear or doubt into my heart, but I quickly grab it by its tail and yank it out! I've learned to combat those serpentine lies with the truth of God's Word...and I continually hear the sweet, gentle voice of my Savior whispering "just trust...just trust."