It was Thursday afternoon and the reality began to set in that our new building was not going to be usable for our first service there on Sunday. We were not going to pass the last inspection we needed to receive our certificate of occupancy from the city.
My heart began to race, my throat tightened, my peripheral vision went dark and a sense of worry and panic welled up within me. I was a hot, anxious mess!
My plans, my desires, my will was being thwarted. I was trying to convince myself that everyone had it in for me. However, I was missing the bigger problem in that moment. I was living on my own strength, trusting in my own abilities, and assuming that my timetable was the best one, expecting God to get on board and carry out my plans for His church.
My Father was lovingly disciplining me, reminding me that no matter how much I convince myself otherwise, His shoes are far too big for me to fill!
In that moment, all I could think about was the details. We had not renewed our lease at our previous location, so we were now stuck between spaces, for as long as the Lord wanted us to be.
I couldn’t see how God would use this disappointment to be a great blessing to the church. We were able to spend the next two Sundays in joint worship with our mother church, and to be present as they ordained and installed new officers. The intervening weeks provided more time to fix things up in the new space and make it all the more ready for us to begin using for His glory.
In that moment, my faith was small because I was trusting in myself. This is a common problem for many of us, and something we need to guard against. Jesus reminds us of the futility of our anxiety,
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:22–28)
Look at how awesome our Lord is! Consider how amazingly gracious that He wants us to know He is in control, He loves us, He provides and protects us, and He commands us, “do not be anxious about your life.”
If we are to be concerned or preoccupied about anything, it should be the things of the Lord (1 Cor. 7:32). When it comes to our daily life, Christ has freed us from anxiety. He has given us rest (Matt 11:28).
When we face difficulty and stress, He calls us to rejoice and pray. Paul reminds us,
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4–7)
This is something we continue to pursue as the Spirit grows us in grace during our time here below. I don’t expect I will ever master this, but God will continue to graciously remind me over and over again to forsake anxiety and pursue prayer. I will never outgrow my basic need to trust and obey.
© 2021 The Orthodox Presbyterian Church