Yes. I am that crazy mom with the rubber gloves and the face mask and the endless supply of Wet Wipes, who orders her groceries so she doesn’t have to go to Walmart and uses her own pen to sign the pizza delivery guy’s receipt. This flu season has been a rough one, not because I have been personally infected by the flu, but because I have allowed my soul to become infected with an unhealthy fear of the “What if’s.”
“What if” I, at 7 months pregnant, contract the flu and spike such a high fever that I give my unborn daughter some sort of birth defect? “What if” my 2 year old son catches the flu, develops pneumonia, and gets placed in the ICU? “What if…” “What if…” “What if…”
I have never struggled with the brand of fear that I now face as a mother for her children. My husband often tells me that I am a “worst case scenario” person, especially involving our son. I am sure fellow mothers can relate with the dreaded “what if” syndrome. “What if my daughter is born with some kind of serious medical issue that they can’t detect until after she's born?” “What if my son rebels when he becomes a teenager?” “What if that crayon my kid just ate is actually toxic and he goes into shock because I didn’t take him to the ER just in case?” (Yes I am that bad.) I am sure that if I currently had a child in the public school system, I would daily wonder, “What if a shooter comes today and they never come home?”
These fears are exacerbated when we witness those around us actually living out these “worst case scenarios” that our over protective mom brains dream up. I have often found myself wondering, how do I follow God’s command to not fear, when I know that sometimes these bad things really do happen, even to Christians?
I wanted to live fearlessly as He commands, but I wasn’t sure how.
Over the past few weeks, God has graciously delivered me an answer that has helped to rewire my mind from constantly falling into worst case scenario traps and free me up to actually focus on what is real and true and happening right in front of me.
As I was researching this topic, I came upon a quote by Elisabeth Elliot,
“There is no grace for your imagination.”
Elisabeth doesn’t mean that God is less gracious to those of us with active imaginations.
She means that God isn’t going to swoop down and comfort us in the midst of our “imagined” worries. He’s not going to meet us in the midst of our worst case scenarios and give us some sort of divine imagined way out because He asked us not to worry in the first place.
He’s not going to give us an answer for every doomsday scenario that enters our minds because He’s already given us the only one that matters,
In the midst of all of our imagined worries, we can hear His whisper gently,
God doesn’t live in our imagined worries.
He lives in our todays.
And He promises His grace not for what we imagine will happen, but for what actually WILL happen.
We will have exactly enough grace for whatever each day brings.
And only He knows what that is.
We can take Him at His word that He will be enough to sustain us through all of our tomorrows.
This truth has been tremendous in setting me free from the constant nag of worry. Though I definitely have not been perfect, and have to be kept accountable by my husband, I have been much better able to stop my mind before it heads down the dark rabbit trails of "what if’s" and accept His all sufficient peace in the moment.
If anyone should be able to testify to the truth of God's grace sufficient grace, it was Elisabeth Elliot. One day, her worst nightmares did come true when her 28 year-old husband was brutally martyred while serving as a missionary to a native people in Ecuador, leaving her and their one year old daughter behind.
Yet, on the other side of this terrible tragedy, Elisabeth chose not to remain a captive to fear. She did not bubble wrap her life and walk around on tiptoe. Incredibly, Elliot chose to remain with the very people who had taken her husband’s life and continue to minister to them for years.
If it were me, I probably would have taken my baby daughter and immediately vacated the country to find a nice, quiet suburban neighborhood to finish out my days in shaken solitude and lots of mind numbing Netflix reruns. (With 4 padlocks on each door, a top notch security system, and a round the clock, armed security guard.)
This is not to say that Elisabeth did not grieve over this horrendous loss or did not experience pain. This is to say that prior to this event, Elisabeth was so entrenched in God’s larger mission for her life that she was able to accept that this event was a part of His good plan to make Himself known to the world and was able to more readily receive the peace that God offered to her.
Elisabeth faced the worst that this life had to offer and was able to say with sincerity, “It was all worth it to run and finish the race that He has for me.”
Can I truly say that?
As Chip Ingram so wisely put it, "God’s agenda, not my personal peace, comfort, happiness, or prosperity is what I need to understand, and then I need to understand what’s my role in His plan rather than how do I convince God to fulfill my plan?"
When we are more confident of God’s wisdom than our own, and more committed to God’s mission for our lives than our own, we can begin to live more fearlessly, certain that whatever comes our way has been through His hands first and can be turned around for our good and His glory.
-“Courage, dear friend,” encourages Charles Spurgeon, “the Lord, the ever-merciful, has appointed every moment of sorrow and pang of suffering. If He ordains the number ten, it can never rise to eleven, nor should you desire that it shrink to nine.”
This post was originally posted at theunboring.com.