Faith for the “what if” moments

Learning to follow God is a life-long pursuit. Following doesn’t feel natural and skirting around things often does. For example:

  • I like to pass big trucks on the highway because I can’t see around them.
  • I like to study people’s carts at Costco so I can pick the right checkout line.
  • I take vitamins to avoid getting sick.
  • I travel, whenever possible, when the roads are most empty of others.

I like to consider possibilities and avoid difficulties. So, when the doctor tells me something could be wrong with my mom, I don’t want to wait a week to find out. 

But that’s what I had to do. A week later I know she is fine, but it was a long week that I wish I could have back and do differently.

The “what-if” moments of faith.

The Bible says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Luke 12:25). I track completely with Jesus here intellectually, but spiritually, I fall short. I spent too much time last week with worry, processing my thoughts and considering possibilities. I thought of what I would do if those possibilities became realities.

And then a week later, all is well except for the fact I can’t get back the sleep I lost or the time I spent making plans for things that I now know will never come to pass. I know why Jesus commanded us not to worry. I just don’t know how to stop the worry when it comes.

The “what-if” moments of life are frustrating sometimes. I spent last week bowing my head to pray, not knowing how I should pray. Those prayers usually came out, “Lord, I know you will do whatever is best – help me trust you and the experts.” I’d say amen, and soon I would be thinking about what I should do, all over again.

The “what-if” moments are usually about things that could dramatically change our lives. We want to be prepared for those times, but how do we prepare well without considering all that could happen? When we consider all that could happen, how do we stop the worries?  

What do we do with the worry? It can’t add anything to our lives. In fact, it subtracts a great deal of calm and peace (along with hours of sleep!).

Psalm 55 is my “worry” psalm. When worry eats up my day, I try to consume Psalm 55. King David understood worry. He had enemies, and he had to learn to live with constant threats and problems. He talks about complaining, moaning, and dreaming of escape. He prays against his enemies and for himself. 

David ends his psalm with an instruction that applies to every “what if” moment of life that causes us to feel overwhelmed by possibilities, probabilities, and realities. David wrote:

Cast your burden on the Lord,
    and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
    the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22).

It is difficult to follow God when we want to fix something. Yet, it is only when we cast our burdens on the Lord that we don’t buckle under the weight of them.  

Worries will be part of our earthly lives until we go to heaven. They are like a blowing, West Texas wind that can knock over or carry off anything that isn’t nailed down. Our stability in those winds is understanding that only God can sustain our thoughts and stabilize our worries. “He will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Get “righteous” by getting in line behind God.

How do we get right with God and stabilize our worries? Start by remembering to “cast them off.”

  • Visit the throne of God in prayer and lay the worries at the feet of God. Replace worry with the knowledge of God’s perfection. Our worries are powerful, but God wants us to remember that nothing matches his power.
  • Tell God what you want but pray for the wisdom to trust and accept what he answers or allows.  His ways are not our ways. We can trust his choices more than our wants.
  • Remember God is your Father and you are his child. He adores you and wants all that is best for you and others. His answer will have eternal significance, not just momentary consequence. Try to consider the eternal picture that exists at the end of our earthly worries.
  • Finally, remember when you asked him to be your Savior, you also asked him to be your Lord.  He is the King and we are not. He is at the front of the line, and we are called to follow behind.  We walk where God leads, at the pace God sets, and to the answer God wants to provide. To trust God is to walk behind him.

A week unwasted.

I teach Bible, write Bible studies, and blog posts like this one. None of that means I can face my “what-ifs” worry-free. I’m still learning to follow the God I teach. I’m still fighting the fears and fixing the failures in my faith journey.

I wish I could regain some of last week’s moments that were altered by worries. I wasted too much time on “what-ifs” that never happened. At the same time, I learned once again that the only moments that did work last week were the moments I got in line behind God.  

God never wastes a flaw or failure. He can bring us back from the flood to the flock. I know I will worry again. But, please God, may I be quick to cast the worries at your feet and follow that line marked “righteousness.” I can’t gain back the time I spent worrying, but I can gain wisdom from the experience. The week wasn’t completely wasted after all!

I’m learning to follow. I’m thankful for God’s patient instruction along the way. Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.” She also said, “In order to feel the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the stress of the storm.”  

It’s comforting to know that Corrie Ten Boom walked her difficult journey and learned of God’s worth.  We can too. Our “what ifs” can be handled with less worry if we faithfully follow God and trust his plan. He is our anchor in every storm.  

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