Life can be freakin’ terrifying.
And the funny thing is, I live in a pretty safe city, state, and country. There are no riots on my streets, tanks in my parking lots, or war in my backyard woods. I had food today (delicious food at that, and way too much of it) and I got to choose my clothes after I rolled out of my incredibly comfortable bed. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, satisfied after a cup of good brew, typing on my computer while my blue iPhone sits waiting for communication from the people who love me.
I am safe. My needs are met. My needs are more than met.
And yet, life can be so terrifying.
I’m one of those people who hates making mistakes, and since life carries the potential for real big ones, I can be so afraid of life. Afraid to meet people. Afraid of car accidents. Afraid that I’ll horribly fail this semester and have to take Political Science again (please God no!).
When Peter tells me to cast all my anxieties onto Jesus, because He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7), I say “Sure thing, Peter. Good idea!” And then I don’t. Because casting my cares onto the Lord is terribly risky. He might send me to Asia to minister to a foreign culture, or He might call me to let go of people I love, or to give up on the deepest desires of my heart. So instead I bear a responsibility I was never meant to bear: I try to figure out what I’m going to do with my life.
I got convicted about this last week. I was so twisted and bent up with worry, like a mass of spaghetti that’s too tangled to eat. I realized that I just can’t do it. I can’t decide what to do with my life. Not because I am weak or lack motivation, but because I am human.
Proverbs 5:21 says that “a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths” (ESV). I’ve read this dozens of times before, but this time it was different. I got a picture of my life as a map (cliche, I know, but stick with me), with all my actions, thoughts, motives and emotions, all my actions and non-actions, all that has been and is and will be or all that could and should be, all mapped out. All of these possibilities and opportunities, all of my ways are clearly before the eyes of the Lord. He stands over the map and he can see the whole thing, beginning to end and side to side.
I only see a part of it. I can only see what has been and what is, and I can’t even see those fully yet. And so I realized that honestly, I have no business to worry about what to do with my life. I physically, emotionally, and spiritually can’t. I can’t wonder if I should be in Asia, or if I should let someone go or if I should give up on the deep desires of my heart.
I can’t live my life trying to decide which path to take, because honestly there are so many paths, and I don’t even have the whole map. So from now on I can do nothing but trust the One who does. And that act of relinquishing control, far from feeling risky, feels incredibly peaceful. I realize that right now I am where He put me, with the people He has put me with and with the desires He has put within me.
It’s easy to snap back into my mindset of fear. But I remind myself that I can’t, because when I do I selfishly waste my time worrying about myself. That’s a terrible life to live.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
This kind of peace is ridiculous. It is defiant of the people who tell me to make a ten year plan. It laughs at my attempts to be anxious about everything. It surpasses all understanding, all educated reasoning, and all human logic.
And you know what? I’m glad. Because human logic is pretty lame.