I read De Vez en Cuando: From Time to Time in preparation for Rick and Eunie Johnson’s visit this Sunday. He mentions in two major illustrations, the municipal trash dump and Grupo Mexico, how there is no ministry without discipleship; that is, it is more blessed to give, then along with giving ourselves, we must teach others to give (152).
Today’s radio broadcast from Alistair Begg touched upon this point, I felt, when he said, “It is imperative that the two (good deeds and good news) are held together, for whenever the good deeds are disengaged from the good news, whenever the impact of a life is torn away from the compelling transforming power of the gospel, then it eventually degenerates into pure moralism and nothingness.”
Other points that resonated with me from De Vez en Cuando included the author’s passage through–not over, or from without, but through–a dark night of the soul, where he decided to put his faith in action, defined as getting out of the driver’s seat of [his] life (103). Though he was serving God, even dying for Him in the jungle, everything had its central control in his hands, until he surrendered and was set free from his burdens.
I relate to this, not so much with his battle, but in my need to completely surrender, because I’ve been fretting like no tomorrow about the wedding: what gifts to bring and will it fit in my luggage, what the group dynamics will be like when the bridal party gets together, what to wear (and not freeze). After putting down the book last night, I took a deep breath and decided I would no longer think any worrying thought about the wedding. I would simply decide not to let anxiety enter in my mind.
Worry has consumed my days and nights, so this is easier said than done. Plus, I still need my planning thoughts, which can morph into worry. It’s difficult to execute. Yet, I find that once I decide to do the impossible (let go), suddenly the impossible is looking more and more probable.
Shut it down, as Liz Lemon would say.
It’s like a really bad 90’s sitcom to recount the number and nature of mishaps and errors I encountered while going about things in a try-hard I-will-make-this-work kind of way. I go back to Madeleine L’Engle, who writes, If we are to be aware of life while we are living it, we must have the courage to relinquish our hard-earned control of ourselves (99). Not only was there a delay in transit, an item priced wrong in the store, an unvoided transaction on my credit card, a badly-reviewed item that needed returning, misplacing my agenda and receipt somewhere along the way, another return to a store that had such a long line I couldn’t wait, and a mad scramble for a classroom staple, white chalk, then yesterday I found that the spray paint wrinkled upon recoating. I felt a bit slumped inside. Despite my nervous energy, I knew I faced defeat. I had not only hit it out of the park with my worry, but straight into the galaxy. My. efforts. were. useless. These were warning signs, and I was glad for the intervention.
Once I decided to stop worry at the door and also stopped berating myself for my lack of trust, I was able to refocus on God’s lavish love, his slowness to anger, and his longing to give good gifts to His children. I jotted down a page of thanksgiving. As I peered into the pantry, there I saw it: a can of sliced pineapple. To explain, I pack fruit to take to work every day, but I hadn’t had time to go grocery shopping. I had finished the last of my fresh fruit and what I thought was the last of my canned fruit until I saw it.. pineapple, enough to last me two days, when I could go shopping.
I finally surrendered after days of desperation and running on sheer determination. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11