As I have talked about in the past, I am slightly terribly afraid of my car breaking down. Not only do I have a stubborn, self-sufficient mindset and therefore hate having to ask for rides to work, but I hardly know anything about cars. So if a mechanic were to ask me to describe what my car is doing and start naming various parts, I would be lost. Also, no matter what, there’s always a cost.
Such an adventure happened Monday afternoon when a mechanic arrived to check out what’s been going on with my Lumina. On Sunday night, it had broken down (wouldn’t start, actually) just after I had finished running a couple miles. This was the second time it had broken down in less than a week, so I was a little frustrated and called a mechanic for Monday. His name is Dan.
Dan the mechanic is a cool guy. He doesn’t replace any parts until he figures out what the real problem to the car is. And even then, he doesn’t usually charge full price for it all. Anyhow, he revved my Lumina a couple times and used some scanning device to see what was wrong with it. After cleaning out a clogged valve and checking the charge on my spark plugs, he told me these two things were a good starting point to fix my car – and relatively inexpensive at that. Hearing that beautiful word, inexpensive, I was relieved.
Ever since the night before. my mind had been racing through what I have in the bank, what kind of room I might have on my credit card (although I’d hate to use it, I didn’t have much of a choice), and what kind of job prospects I might have lined up. When Dan told me that I wouldn’t have to pay very much to get my car fixed and that I didn’t owe him anything for checking it out (although I promised him $20 the next time I saw him), I was so very relieved. When I left my apartment minutes later to Villages (a small group with Emmaus Life), I started thanking God. Of course, that’s when He taught me something.
My ordeal with my car and fearing expenses got me thinking about what we’re doing in this world. Our political atmosphere has caused us (at least me, anyway) to place so much hope into our jobs or jobs that might be created. It’s believed that this would put some money in peoples’ pockets so they could afford things they need. What I think it actually is, though, is an attempt to recover the American Dream. We want prosperity, comfort, ease, and an absolute pain-free life. But, we often forget, we aren’t going to bring any of that stuff with us. It stays behind.
When we proclaim the Gospel of Christ – even if only to ourselves – we proclaim a hope that extends beyond whatever trials or triumphs were experiencing in this life. We’re saying that all of what we see, feel, taste, smell, and hear on this earth is good, but God’s building something better. And we have to die in this world in order to get to where His latest works are being completed. We’re declaring that we aren’t destined to stay in this life. We’re destined for something better.
If our focus is supposed to shift from ourselves in this dying and decaying world to Him who has defeated death, then why should things like a car breaking down or a job being lost send our minds and hearts into a hurricane of worry and anxiety? Why do we think we would fail if our lives were taken from us in the very next minute? I think it’s because we want to create our own heaven here on earth. We want what we want, not what God wants.
And yet we hardly ever stop to realize that God wants to bless us with the desires of our heart – not what we think the desires of our heart are, but what actually are the desires of our hearts. What’s in the way? What’s blocking us from what God is trying to give us? Worry. Fear. Anxiety. We don’t to fail (or maybe we don’t want to succeed?). What are Jesus’ thoughts about worry, though?
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:26-27
“That’s great,” our selfishness might reply, “But birds don’t have ridiculously high student loans or car troubles. Birds don’t have the worries that I have!” Our selfishness is exactly right in one aspect: birds don’t have worries. Where our selfish mindsets err, though, is in thinking that by the act of worrying, things will be mended. I don’t know about you, but I have found myself reasoning against Jesus’ words by saying, “Well, if I let myself worry about it, then maybe my prayers will be more meaningful and genuine. And then maybe they’ll be answered.” But Jesus said it; “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Life cannot be gained from worrying, only taken.
If we are worth more than birds, then doesn’t that mean we’re going to be taken care of? So if we lose our job, our spouse, our children, our house, or even our very own life, aren’t we still going to be with Him? Aren’t we still going to be cared for?
If you love and trust Jesus, then you are in God’s grasp. We often imagine other people or beliefs or anything other than ourselves trying to break us from God’s hand. We imagine demonic forces working to pry His fingers or maybe those moronic church members who have different beliefs than me about baptism – maybe they’re subtly pulling me from God’s fingertips. What I find we hardly ever question, though, is if we’re trying to pry ourselves from His grip?
It is not as ridiculous as it may sound; anytime we act upon our selfish desires and will, we’re acting in opposition to His. We’re trying to have our own control instead of being under His. And yet it is only under His control that we’re able to have any life worth living.
God taught me that it doesn’t matter if my car breaks down or if I lose my job or if I somehow develop a severe cancer and die overnight; I’m in His grasp and I’ll be damned if I’m able to break free.