“Where faith begins, anxiety ends; where anxiety begins, faith ends” George Mueller
I don’t worry about things. After all, what’s the point of fretting? Anxiety isn’t going to influence our circumstances or erase our difficulties, and it certainly isn’t going to add time to our lives (Matt 6:27). Worry is an incredibly impractical and expensive activity. It drains us of our joy, it threatens our health and offers nothing in return. There is no upside to worry, and that is why I refuse to do it. I panic.
Last week I was driving through Louisville. It was a crisp fall afternoon and I was reminded of the time I spent there as a seminary student. Those were the good old days—I was poor, tired, and very very green. Louisville is a wonderful city, it was good to be back, and as we drove down familiar streets and past favorite haunts, there was a lot to reminisce over. There was the store that sharpened scissors (amazingly, it’s still open), and to our right was Heine Bro’s coffee shop (many theological conundrums were solved there). I felt nostalgic in my old hunting grounds. That was, until I looked out my rear view mirror.
Rising from behind the car was a thin trail of white vapor. Being a brisk day, the exhaust fumes were condensing and were visible through the mirror. There is nothing noteworthy in what I saw and yet it catapulted me back to a time of panic. As a student I was preoccupied with vapor trails. Kentucky has mandatory emissions testing and if your vehicle was overly noxious, you were obligated to repair it or upgrade it. That meant that if my little Hyundai Accent was found to be too profuse, I was going to be further impoverished. And so, I would drive the streets of Louisville constantly looking to the rear trying to eyeball how much trouble I was in.
Remembering those panicky moments, I have to admit, they were a waste of time, energy, and happiness. The car never failed a test, it never required expensive repairs, and I was never in any real trouble. To think that I had surrendered the tranquility of beautiful fall days in favor of imagined fears is discouraging. What a waste! Worse still, I still do it. I still watch for vapor trails—not literally of course, but there are times that I find myself looking for trouble where there is none. Most often, these bouts happen when I am tired and poor in spirit. With my reserves low, the jagged edges of dread can penetrate my thoughts and leave a mark.
The obvious solution to this discomfort is to stay healthy. But even with sufficient rest, a good diet, and enough exercise, I cannot vanquish worry. There is a spiritual component that cannot be forgotten, an essential asset that must be used. The gospel reminds us that in every need and circumstance, my efforts are inadequate, and Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient. Jesus is able to complete what I cannot control, and this is reason for peace. God’s Word reminds me that He is actively involved in my life and is busy arranging its circumstances to accomplish His glory and my good.
And if I practice this awareness, my vision is forward focused. No longer do I look over my shoulder for potential threats, I look to the future, knowing that my savior has shaped the way. My deliverer, my savior, my provider is present and I have no reason to fear. I am still in process, so I will probably panic again, but I pray that I will have sufficient wits about me to cut my eyes to the fore, keep calm, and carry on. I hope that you do the same.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16, ESV)