"Well of all the nerve!"
I’m not sure where I first heard that expression. It may have been from my grandmother in Searcy, Arkansas, who used to utter that phrase quite often. Whenever I have heard that expression, the context is usually the same. Someone is expressing shock or disbelief at someone’s behavior.
It really does take some nerve to follow Jesus. Perhaps in some respects, following Jesus simplifies life. After all, it becomes very clear as to what one’s priorities are to be. "Seek first the kingdom," Jesus said. He also said that the first and second greatest commandments were to love God and to love our neighbor. Now that clarifies what is really important.
On the other hand, following Jesus can complicate life. Following Jesus can lead to pain, suffering, etc. Look at what happened to the earliest Christ-followers.
We are called to look into the face of Jesus and trust him through this life. This trust gives us the nerve to follow him.
Now let us think about all of the reasons that we have to be afraid:
- Gas prices. We are close to $4 per gallon. It seems to go up almost every day. You wonder how expensive gasoline will be by the end of summer. What will happen? Will God take care of me?
- The overall economy. Constantly we hear bad news about the housing market. You feel this need to cut back. "I could stop eating out so much. I could car pool. I could cut back on what we give to our church." Will God take care of me?
- "What if_______ happens?" Just fill in the blank. Will God take care of me?
- "What about my problems?" If you are like many of us, you know what it is to wake up at 3:00 AM and for your mind to be flooded with anxiety over your children, your parents, your brother or sister, etc. Will God take care of me?
The truth is that so many of us live with constant worry and anxiety because we are just not sure that God will come through. We are just not sure that he can be trusted with the kinds of things we are wrestling with.
Trusting God does not mean that we trust God to fix or repair each and every mess we are in. Nor does trusting God mean that we will not go through pain. Many people trust God and still end up divorced, terminated at work, and familiar with difficulties in general.
Trusting God means that God will not let go. He will not abandon us. He will never leave us or forsake us. At times that will seem obvious. At other times you may feel as if he is doing nothing. Yet, even in the mystery of this life, even when God is silent, we continue to believe that he is present and faithful.
Do I need to hear this? Yes
Do I sometimes get wrapped up in my own fear and anxiety? Yes
Do I, at times, attempt to live out of my own strength and resources? Yes
That is the reality of my own life. Yet, I have been comforted and encouraged by the constant faithfulness of God throughout all of life. When I get bogged down by anxiety, I go back to the truth of God’s faithfulness.
You may be a husband, wife, father, mother, or church leader and you just have difficulty getting beyond your own fear. Can you relate to this? Does this sound familiar?