Originally published Tuesday, 04 February 2014.
We are planning a family mission's trip this spring to Central America. As I consider this trip, my mind goes straight to all the things I will need to bring. I think through all the potential illnesses my children could pick up and make a mental note of medications to pack. I think about all the things we won't have access to and make plans to somehow squeeze it all into our suitcases. As my mind wanders down the meandering rabbit trails of the future, I feel tense and wonder why.
And I realize, I am planning ahead out of fear of the future.
Then I wonder, how much of my life is motivated by fear? How many of my decisions and plans are based on fear?
And what does it say about my faith?
Fear has been a regular companion in my life. It holds out a crystal ball and encourages me to take a glance into the future. Even though I know I can't, I try anyway. I anticipate all sorts of catastrophes. I imagine trials and challenges. Heartaches and losses. And when I look at all that could go wrong, I feel sapped of strength. I know I don't have the strength or ability to manage the looming trials in the distance. So fear takes the driver's seat and tells me what to do.
It says: plot, plan, and prepare. Like the man in Luke 12 who fills his storehouses for the future, I think that the more I prepare, the better I will be able to face what lies ahead. I feel secure in my plans, trusting in my own success and strategic plans.
The problem with my attempts to predict the future and plan ahead for it is that I fail to live in today. My heart and mind is so focused on the future that I miss what's happening right now. And in missing out on today, I don't see the daily delivery of strength that God provides me.
I think it's all about me and what I can do, how I can get through my supposed foreseen trials. But it's not. God promises to give me just what I need for each and every day. What he provides is sufficient for the day. Like the manna in the wilderness, I can't store up strength for the future and expect it to be there. And like the Israelite's years of desert wandering, my own life is a lesson in trust. Will I trust him for each day? Will I rely on his daily supply of what I need? Will I believe that he is greater than any future trial that may come my way?
"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23
Had I joined Caleb and Joshua on their trip to spy out the promised land, I most likely would have joined in the fearful proclamation about giants and insurmountable odds. This is what my heart does every day. When my kids struggle with their behavior, I fear that we'll not be able to help them, that it will get worse, or that I won't have the wisdom to address it. When life gets busy and the tasks are large, I think I'll never accomplish what I need to do. I fear the mountain of responsibilities will collapse on top of me. When the doctor orders more tests, I imagine all the potential outcomes and then despair that I can't handle them. My daily mantra becomes, "I just can't do it. It's too much and I'm not strong enough."
Yet isn't that the truth? I'm not strong enough and God doesn't expect me to be. He expects me to draw from his rich resources, not my own. He calls me to come to the fountain and drink from his fresh supply all throughout the day, not from my own sources stored in cracked and leaky vessels.
The song of my heart needs to change its tune. I need to sing of trust rather than fear. I need to believe that he'll give me just what I need when I need it. I need to stop looking into the future and instead live off his daily provision of mercy.
Perhaps my family will face a giant or two in our travels this spring. Maybe there will be medical challenges or some other unexpected circumstance. Whatever lies in the future, I know that God will provide me strength. I rest in his promises and pray that this would be my heart's prayer and song, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?..Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident" (Psalm 27:1,3).
How about you? Is fear your life's motivator? Does it drive you and the decisions you make?