The first possession I remember treasuring was a little red tricycle. I was very small when I received it, too small, in fact to work the pedals. I remember the frustration of trying to figure out the coordination required to make the tricycle move on my own, the push-pull of the pedals, the right amount of tension necessary to keep my small feet from slipping off the surface for the entire rotation.
And I remember the glorious feeling of getting it right, of moving so fast all on my own.
I rode the tricycle up and down the sidewalk behind my house for hours. It was pure joy.
One Sunday, I heard in church that we couldn’t take our possessions to heaven with us. I didn’t like the sound of that at all. So, very worried, I went to my Dad.
“Can I take my tricycle to heaven with me?” I asked.
And he gave me a brilliant response.
“I think,” he said, “that you will have whatever makes you happy in heaven.”
That was great news. The tricycle, I knew for sure, was going to heaven.
The Fear of Not Enough
That was 45 years ago, and I no longer feel the need to take my tricycle to heaven. (Although if God wants to throw in a giant one, shiny red, I will ride it up and down the streets of glory in pure bliss.)
Now, there are other things I can’t imagine doing without-
Safety for my kids.
Money to pay for college for the two going in the fall.
My aging parents to remain Corona Virus free.
The things that keep me up at night, that steal my joy away, are heavier now, but I wonder if the root of my fear remains unchanged from when I was 5-years-old.
I think, perhaps, I am afraid God won’t come through for me, that there won’t be enough. Maybe I even believe somewhere deep down that He isn’t good, that He doesn’t love me.
Maybe I believe He is holding out on me a little.
Mother Eve and the Lie Her Children Believe
This fear is not unique to me. It stretches way back, all along my family tree, straight to our first mother, Eve.
Eve had everything she could possibly want or need in the Garden. She was literally surrounded by abundance, dripping from every tree. She had meaningful work, and a great relationship with her husband.
And Satan swept it all away with small suggestion-
Maybe God wasn’t really good.
Maybe He wasn’t really loving.
Just maybe… He was holding out on her a little.
“Did God really say you must not eat fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die?” Satan asked conspiratorially. (Genesis 3:2 NIV)
Then, he moved in for the kill.
“You won’t really die if you eat from that tree. The truth is, God knows that if you eat from it, you will be as wise and powerful as He is. He wants to keep all of the power and wisdom for himself. He is ripping you off. Girl, you better watch out for you. You certainly can’t trust him to do it.” (My paraphrase of Satan’s argument.)
You can’t trust Him. You better watch out for you.
Eve believed it, and took matters into her own hands. She ate the forbidden fruit, and with it swallowed down anxiety, fear, and distrust. Her kids have been compulsively doing the same thing ever since.
A Big, Scary, Disappointing World
Corona Virus is marching across the globe. The stock market is crashing. Businesses are hurting because everything is canceled. Bombs are falling. Borders are closing.
The toilet paper is flying off the shelves for reasons no one can explain, except perhaps, it is the one thing we can’t imagine life in heaven, or on earth, without.
We are all grasping, and grabbing, and hoarding because maybe there won’t be enough. We are closing doors with our elbows, and at least one of us is spraying his kid down with Lysol on a school sidewalk before he lets him in the car.
God needs to throw a weighted blanket down on the entire planet, read us a story, and put us down for a nap.
A Bedtime Story for An Anxious World
I can’t give you a giant weighted blanket, friend. You are too old for me to put you down for a nap. But, I can tell you a story. It goes something like this-
God is for you. He loves you. He holds the abundance of all Creation in the palm of His hand. He is a good Father, who gives good gifts to His children. You don’t have to be anything more. You are enough just as you are. He has compassion for you in all of your anxious, neurotic grasping, your mindless terror. He longs to hold you near and whisper peace over you.
He isn’t holding out on you. You can trust Him.
So, breathe now. In and out. Do it again. And again.
Today, and all of your tomorrows, are in His loving hands.