I know better than to worry, but that rarely keeps me from doing it. I keep catching myself ten minutes into a preemptive, imaginary argument wherein I defend myself against something that shows no sign of actually happening.
Before I began my Bible-reading experiment, two years ago, I spent most days in that jungle. Now, at least I notice it and start beating back the vines before they take over my fields.
Years ago, I was in Indonesia, sitting on the porch of a beach hut, next to a stack of firewood. My friend Allison walked onto the porch to put her shoes on. Resting her hand on the woodpile for balance, she erupted into a howling explosion of screams. Another friend came running out and gleaned enough information to shine a flashlight on the woodpile.
Allison had laid her hand on a scorpion and in return it laid hands on her.
I narrowly missed the same experience this week at my home in Texas. Standing at the fridge, filling a glass of water, I stood with my big toe resting on a scorpion. Oddly, it did not sting me, but instead provided a clear object lesson, directly from Jesus, on the topic of worry.
All week I have worried that the book I’ve spent two years writing is not nearly __________ enough – you can fill in any number of modifiers. I’ve also nursed the concern that the still, small voice upon which I’ve relied to write it, has softened so much as to become inaudible.
Here’s how I know God thinks I shouldn’t sweat that:
On Sunday, Isaiah 54 fell out of my bible, literally the page came loose and fluttered to the floor. It’s not a famous passage like John 3:16, but it’s famous to me, so it gave me pause. Verse 1 says, “Sing o barren one, you who did not bear: break forth into singing and cry aloud you who did not travail with child! For the (spiritual) children of the desolate one will be more than the children of the married wife, says the Lord”
Isaiah was talking about the redemption of Zion, but it speaks to me because I have tried to have children and cannot. I turn 40 in a week and it seems that horse has left the barn. So either I have just broken the spine on my bible there or the God I think I can’t hear anymore is telling me to quit worrying about legacy and sing.
Secondly, Joseph Prince a Singaporean pastor I like, is the third person I’ve heard this week discussing rest and freedom from worry; and coming to know God like I have, has made me skeptical of coincidence.
Considering all that while filling my water glass, I looked down and saw that little lobster-shaped insect under my toe. I screamed and jumped backward and he skittered under the fridge.
Then this scripture whistled through my mind like a bottle rocket: Behold! I (Jesus) give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and (physical and mental strength and ability) over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19
Whoa, do I have literal power and authority to trample on scorpions? Evidently, but that’s not the point and I don’t intend to test it. The point is, after several tries, the light came on. Jesus said, “fret not” “fear not” “don’t worry” “stop worrying” “trust me, don’t be afraid” because he knew that faith and fear are mutually exclusive and for humans, fear is the default position. Before I read the Bible, I didn’t know I had a choice. I didn’t know that the Bible is an arsenal, ready to help me do battle with fear and anxiety, but I have to enter it every day and gather what I need for dealing with a scary, messed-up world.
So if Jesus gave me power over the enemy and nothing will in any way harm me, why am I worrying about anything; much less the outcome of a book I wrote about the power of God. Now, each time I catch myself worrying, I recall standing un-stung on a scorpion and I say, “so what am I worried about?”
Incidentally, the scorpion was a different story. Despite my appeals for clemency on account of his good behavior, he was dispatched by my husband Sam, a man with a far less spiritual view of poisonous insects in the kitchen.