(Be sure to watch the short movie clip above, I love that scene!)
This is the perfect time to panic.
Love is lost.
Unity is gone.
And we have to vote in November!!!
But, seriously, given the condition of our nation, our world and our hearts, it does seem like the perfect time to panic. And I did just that. It seems like everywhere I turn there is discord and divide, on both a public and personal level. I have let myself descend into a world of unchecked anxiety and fear and have entertained every ill-willed outcome that my mind could fathom. Oh, and believe me, it was limitless. At 3 AM, I found myself staring up at the green light on my smoke detector thinking: “This has got to stop.”
It is my fourth night running on less than 5 hours of sleep, and I want so desperately to rest. I want to lay my head down on my pillow, close my eyes and drift off into a peaceful and recuperative slumber for hours on end. Instead, I am sitting in my chair, making mental to-do lists and trying to solve problems, that have not even yet occurred. I am always anticipating and planning for the worst.
I struggle with walking that line between being prepared and being completely paranoid. Apparently, it’s a thinner line than I thought.
I used to say: “Plan for the worse and hope for the best,” but lately, it seems I forgot about the hope thing. My motto seems to be “Plan for the worse, and, then, panic about how bad it is going to get.” To make matters worse, I hadn’t even spent fifteen minutes talking to God about it. I was afraid God would be upset with me for being so anxious. Anxiety, for me, means I don’t trust the Lord with whatever I’m trying to deal with. I took the wheel back from Jesus. Trouble is, I have no idea where I am, let alone where I’m going.
I finally got up the courage to spend some quiet time with God. As always, the moment I was able to quiet my spirit and dedicate intentional time with God, my mind shifted. I read the story of “Daniel in the Lion’s Den”. I felt the Holy Spirit helping me to understand a few things I would like to share with you.
Keep in Touch
My natural inclination and reaction to stress is to do something. When there is a problem, I feel it is my job to solve it (by the way, I know that’s not always true, but I’m just being honest). Yet and still, I entrench myself in working the problem. If I don’t come up with a viable solution, I struggle with feeling responsible for the outcome, even though I didn’t create the problem. To make matters worse, I don’t often, or at least initially, include God in the process. In times of panic, I usually turn to God when I have exhausted my own capabilities. I imagine God is constantly trying to get my attention to offer help but I keep telling Him: “Not now. I’ve got a problem on my hands.”
But Daniel sought God’s company three times a day…everyday. When he heard about the plot against him, he continued to seek God (Daniel 6:10). He did not cut out time with God in order to figure out how to handle his problem. Daniel continued to spend time with God, despite his circumstance. Duly noted Lord. Duly noted.
Haters Gonna Hate
Let me be painfully transparent with you guys. Sometimes, when other people don’t like me, it bothers me. I know it shouldn’t, but it does. Every now and then, it can be chalked up to a misunderstanding, but more often than not, they just don’t like me. Either way, it consumes more of my mental space than it should. I’m embarrassed to admit that sometimes I even catch myself being “less awesome” to get someone to like me. I say “catch myself” because it is not an intentional thing. In my introspective moments, I will just notice that I don’t perform to the best of my abilities when certain people are around. That bugs me…
Anyway, I noticed that Daniel was hated by his peers for simply being himself. Whether he did his job well or not, didn’t matter. They just didn’t like him, so when they couldn’t find anything that he did wrong, they concocted a plan based on the things he did right. But their dislike for him (rooted in their own insecurities) did not faze him. Daniel kept on being Daniel. He did not hide his excellence because they were intimidated. We should do likewise.
The lesson: Other people’s opinion of us is none of our business. We need to continue to live with integrity and excellence, even in the face of blatant and hurtful opposition.
I looked up the definition of trust in Webster’s 1828 dictionary. I got down to number six and halted in my tracks. It read:
Credit given without examination; as, to take opinions on trust.
Faith without question. Belief without inquiry. Reliance without scrutiny. Trust is near insanity. I grew up in a home where I was responsible for too many things, at too early an age. This led to a dynamic in my family where they depended on me, and I in turn felt responsible for every outcome.
I remember one summer when we got into a car accident, and my mother broke her foot. The car was near totaled and was in the shop for quite a while. Down to one car, my parents decided that I would have to drive my mother to and from work. My stepfather worked locally. My mother, however, worked in Chicago. I was the one driving when we were hit in the first place and, although it was not my fault, I became very afraid to drive after that. So, at only 16 years old and filled with fear, I got up every morning and rode in the car to my stepfather’s job and then drove my mother to work in Chicago’s rush hour traffic.
Sometimes it was exhilarating and other times terrifying. I remember feeling like it was my responsibility to get everyone there and back, so my parents wouldn’t lose their jobs. I was terrified that I would wreck the car or kill someone. The responsibility was overwhelming.
But, after a while, there came a safety with being the one in control.
At least I knew I cared about everyone involved and would do my best to meet their needs. I’d been in charge so much that everyone became comfortable with it, including me, but I am not perfect and being in charge all the time is emotionally exhausting. It’s a double edged sword. On one hand, I want someone else to be in charge for a change. On the other, I’m afraid they won’t take good care of things, and it will all fall apart. In which case, I will be in charge of the cleanup (been there, done that).
So handing over control to GOD is more than a notion.
Submitting and allowing GOD to control my world without knowing the plan is nothing short of petrifying, but I have to admit, I really want to trade the burden of control for the peace that surpasses all understanding.
I really want to be like Daniel and have a calmness in my spirit, while I stride into the lion’s den, not knowing, but not fearing the outcome. I’m not there yet, but I know that is where I am headed.
So, although you may find moments in your life where it seems like it’s the “perfect time to panic”, remember it is more likely the perfect time to praise.
In your quiet time with GOD, I invite you to wrestle with some of these issues. Here are some questions to get you started.
- On a scale of 0-10 how much do you trust GOD? (0 is no trust and 10 is complete trust)
- Where would you like to be in 6 months?
- Does it bother you when you learn a peer does not like you? If so, how do you respond? Does your response derail your walk with GOD?
- Do you regularly spend quiet time with GOD? If not, why?
- When you are stressed, do you spend less time with GOD? Why? How can you ensure that your private time with GOD is not sacrificed when the stresses of life increase?
I’m so glad our community is growing. I’d love to hear from you. Tell me what insights you get from reading Daniel and the lion’s den. Let’s stay connected. Be sure to “like”, “click” and “share”.