Friday, May 20, 2011

whistle, don't crawl

(from More Little Visits With God by Allan Hart Jahsmann and Martin P. Simon, ©1961)

The weather was very cold, and the ice on the river was frozen clear down to the bottom. A man came walking down to the river. He wanted to cross where there was no bridge. “I wonder if this ice will hold me?” he said.

For a long time he looked at it and thought it would, but he wasn't sure. Then he said to himself, “If I crawl over, it won't break so easily.” So he crawled over the ice on his stomach. The ice held him, but he was worried all the while.

On the other side the man saw a big truck coming down to the river. Without stopping, the truck drove on the ice and over the river. In the truck was a little boy riding along with his father. The boy never worried a bit that the ice would break. He was whistling a happy song all the while.

Which one was safer on the ice, the happy little boy or the scared little man? They were both safe. But there was a great difference between them. The boy who trusted his father was safe and happy. The man who did not trust the ice was safe but worried.

Some Christians are like the boy; others are like the man. Some trust that God will bring them across the way to heaven. They are happy with God and do not worry. Others are worried that they will lose their faith or that their faith isn't strong enough. So they crawl when they could ride and whistle.

You have Jesus, your Savior, with you every day. So trust Him. Be happy. Don't worry. Don't crawl. Ask Him to take care of you on your way to heaven. Then trust Him to get you there safely.

The Bible says, “You are kept by the power of God.” So do what the psalm writer said, “Trust in the Lord.” Then you'll feel like whistling.

Are you the scared little man or the happy little boy? I would love to say that I'm the happy, trusting little boy. But it would be a bald-faced lie. I am the scared little man in that story, no contest.

Jesus tells me in the Bible not to worry (Matthew 6). I want to intellectualize this and write about how to trust God, what steps to take, what formula to follow, and so on and on ad nauseum. Know why? Because I am a procrastinator. As long as I am talking about “how”, I don't have to actually do it, do I.

Trust is not a 12-step program. That would be a nice, gradual thing. Unfortunately, trust is just action. I don't get to first “feel” trust and then wait for an opportunity to act it out. Nope, trust happens in the very acting.

If I'm stuck on a ledge and my husband offers to catch me and I trust him, I'll jump. I can't trust him and stay on the ledge. This has some very scary implications for my Christian life.

I'd have to give up worry.

Oh, no biggie, right? I mean, who likes to worry? Ummmmm …. a lot of us, I think. But speaking just for me, I can make myself about sick worrying over my children, but the thought of not worrying makes me feel …. guilty. As if my worry were proof of my love ….

And what about finances? What responsible, spiritually mature person doesn't worry about their finances? Naturally we call it “planning” or “budgeting” or something else …. but can you plan for the “what-ifs” of the future without any worrying? Really?

Then there's knowing God's will for my life – you know, all the lifestyle choices from career or family size to tonight's supper menu and tomorrow's social calendar. Does God want me to eat only organic vegetables and whole grains or is it okay to serve frozen pizza and french fries? Does God want me to homeschool my children or should I send them to the local school? Does God want me to serve in the positions at church that I am asked to do or does he want me to say “no” to them and dedicate myself to prayer? Just in case I run out of things to worry about for my children or our finances, I can always worry about whether or not I'm hearing God's will correctly.

This is starting to sound ridiculous, even to me.

But it's my reality. I'm the scared little man, crawling on my stomach over the ice, wondering whether it will hold me or crack and plunge me to a frozen, suffocating death.

What would it be like to whistle on the seat beside my Father, trusting Him to carry me where I need to go? It feels a little irresponsible ..... a little child-like ….

What would it look like for me? What would I do differently in a life of trust?

Eat inorganically. Send my children to school. Read novels instead of nonfiction. Lie in the hammock instead of searching the online parenting forum for ideas and solutions. Invite friends over even though their kids might wreck my house and lose pieces to my children's toys. Work in my flowerbeds regardless of the pollen count. Give up on being thin, fit, and fashionable. Play. Laugh. Love. Dare.

What would trust look like for you?

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare
and from deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling –
even the Lord, who is my refuge –
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For He will command His angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpant.

Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him.
I will protect him, for he acknowledges My Name.
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

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