One of my earliest memories is that of going on errands in the city with my Mom and siblings. I know my brother was still in a stroller, so I was probably 4 years old. I was whining about having to walk when there was a perfectly good (though occupied) stroller to ride in. It struck my youthful fancy to close my eyes while walking, and since it seemed to entertain me and keep me from whining, I can’t blame my Mom for allowing it.
So I closed my eyes and walked along, and suddenly bumped into my Mom. I started pushing against her, but she wouldn’t budge, so I finally said (while still push-walking): “Mom! Keep moving already!” When I opened my eyes, I saw that I was pushing against a street lantern; my Mom was a good way ahead of me, laughing and calling me to catch up.
I have thought about this story several times in the last few years, last when I read Tim Challies' article “Shedding Tears Over Sorrows That May Never Come”. Tim just lost his son to a very sudden death while at college in Louisville, so letting his daughter move back there for class after the break conjures up fears that the same may happen to her; thus the title of his article.
I am also prone to anxiety. The worst case happened a few years ago when we tried to sell our house. It was, of course, nowhere near as bad as what Tim is going through—which only shows my desperate weakness and sinfulness—but feelings caused by sin and weakness are still real feelings, even when they are mostly irrational.
Tim writes the following in his article, and I can fully attest to its truth:
How, then, can I let go of such anxiety? If I have learned any antidote it is this: deliberately submitting myself to the will of God, for comfort is closely related to acquiescence. As long as I fight the will of God, as long as I battle God’s right to rule his world in his way, peace remains distant and furtive. But when I surrender, when I bow the knee, then peace flows like a river and “attendeth my way.” For when I do so, I remind myself that the will of God is inseparable from the character of God. I remind myself that the will of God is always good because God is always good. Hence I pray a prayer of faith, not fatalism: “Your will be done. Not as I will, but as you will.”
When I was fighting against God’s will—at times even refusing to pray—I remember making about as much headway as 4-year-old-me pushing against the street lantern. There was no peace or comfort in that moment (though God, in his immeasurable kindness, still granted me occasional relief). It was only when I finally gave in and accepted my circumstances and their potential consequences, that I found peace. It was like going from pushing against the lantern to riding in the stroller, exhausted but safe, trusting someone else to get me where I needed to go.1 I think the house sold shortly after, or maybe it just felt like that because I wasn’t fighting God every step of the way and instead trusted him to work it out and take care of us.
Thanks, Tim, for sharing so openly. It is helpful. I am praying for you and your family.
Photo by XINYI SONG on Unsplash
The same didn’t happen in my story: Poor, tired me had to walk the whole way. Maybe there is another article here about how God is a better parent to us than our earthly parents…nevermind. Love you, Mom! ↩︎