Guilt. Shame. Worry. We all struggle with something. I’ve been walking with God for over 20 years, and these are some of the things that I still struggle with. But worry is my vice. I think of the book Pride and Prejudice, where Mr. Bennett says that Mrs. Bennet’s nerves have been his “constant companion these twenty years.” For me, worry has been my constant companion for my 44 years.
There is one area of fear and worry that has stuck around as I have grown and matured. It comes around once a year, right after Thanksgiving. It is the fear of shopping in the month of December. It is the fear of leaving my home on Saturday’s in December, or going out AT ALL the week of Christmas. Especially Christmas Eve, when throngs of people are doing last minute shopping and are clogging up parking lots and roads. My heart beat is speeding up just thinking about it!
Why have I felt like I had to hunker down in the month of December and avoid the roads and shopping centers at all costs? I like to blame it on my brother, Scott, who is five years older than me. You see, he is not an obsessive planner like me. As a child, I was able to do my Christmas shopping early. My brother was not a planner, and he saved all of his shopping for the last possible opportunity: Christmas Eve. And he wanted me to help him shop.
So being a dutiful sister, I would get into his car and go to the mall with him. Going to the mall was not the problem, it was LEAVING the mall that was the problem. We would be leaving the mall at the same time as every other person in Charlotte, trying to get home for Christmas Eve festivities that evening. As a result of this mass exodus, we would sometimes sit in the mall traffic for up to two hours, just trying to get to the traffic light that would grant us freedom.
Trapped. Out of control. Sometimes hungry or needing to use the bathroom. The traffic light that was green for two seconds. Cars in front and cars behind. No way of escape. Powerless. Impotent. Stuck.
I vowed then and there that when I was an adult that I would do things differently and that I would never get stuck in Christmas shopping traffic ever again. I would take “evasive measures” and prevent such a recurrence from happening. I would make sure that I was in control of where I was at all times, and I would NOT be in traffic during December. I would get my shopping done by Thanksgiving, stockpile food in the house, and decline all social invitations that might put me in a traffic jam. Yup, that’s what I did.
For thirty years strong.
Then I heard a truth that was attributed to Todd White, and it rocked my world:
“Worry is imaging the future without God.”
Being the queen of worry, I paid attention to this statement and have been pondering it ever since. I have been applying it to the many areas of my life where I am prone to worry. Like going out of my house in December. My mind has no problem imagining the traffic that will clog up College Road, Wilmington’s main thoroughfare . My heart speeds up as I imagine myself sitting in my van, waiting for the light to change, for cycles on end.
Stuck. Trapped. Out of Control. Hungry, or needing a restroom. Just the type of situation I have tried to avoid for 30 years. As I imagine myself stuck at that light, I see myself alone, powerless, and helpless. This is the essence of worry, imagining a future without God. I do not see God in the van with me.
But isn’t the whole point of Christmas? That Jesus came, and that He is Emmanuel, God with us? Didn’t Jesus say that He is with us always? Isn’t He Christ in me, the hope of glory?
I’m trying to re-imagine my driving across town the Saturday before Christmas, but this time, someone is with me. God is indeed my Co-Pilot, sitting in the passenger seat, helping me. He’s giving me patience, the fruit of the Spirit. Holy Spirit is giving me comfort, for He is my Comforter. God is giving me deliverance, for He is a deliverer. Jesus is giving me companionship, for He is my friend. Angels are dispatched to keep charge over me and to protect me. I am no longer alone…I have the hosts of heaven as my escort, and the King of Heaven as my passenger. Together, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, the angels, and I are having an awesome time as we patiently wait for the traffic to open up and for my van to go through the light. If God can part the Red Sea, He can move traffic for me!
I might get stuck. I might be out of control. I might have to pee. But I will not be alone. My future is not without God. And now worry is impotent instead of me.
What about you, is there an area of your life where you are imagining your future without God? If you’d like to share it with me, I would love to pray for you.