Don’t Worry About Anything.

I raced down the freeway, knuckles white. The entire department would be at today’s meeting – all the bosses and all my colleagues. I was the only one in the department who got to work at home, so there was a lot of talk like, “what’s so special about ‘that guy’” and “why doesn’t he have to come to work like we do?” I know my boss had to justify to his bosses why he let me do something no one else could. And today, when all eyes were watching, I’d be walking in fifteen minutes late.

The freeway ran along the ocean bluffs, but my eyes jumped between the speedometer and any black and white cars in the rear-view mirror. I cursed. I shouted. I pounded the steering wheel. All the while in the back of my mind was the tiny voice. Don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything.

Worry equals fear. Worry is a slap in God’s face – like saying, you can’t handle this. I tried to stop worrying. I took a few deep breaths. I said things like, “God, I don’t know how, but you’ve got this.” What I didn’t do was take my foot off the accelerator. That is until I rounded the bend. The entire freeway was stopped bumper to bumper. Cars stretched as far as I could see. How’s that for an answer to prayer? Things got worse.

I’m pretty sure by then I was screaming. I was going to be humiliated. I was going to lose my freedom. I was going to lose my position. Still, the quiet words echoed in the back of my mind, “don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything.” I wasn’t able to do the first one, but I could do the second – pray – at the top of my lungs to the rhythm of my fists on the steering wheel.

By the time I made it through the traffic, I was 45 minutes behind. Is it OK to pray for a miracle when the problem was my own fault? The bible does say to pray about ‘everything.’ I guess that includes my stupidity. I have to admit that I prayed for a wide-open road with no police. Does ‘everything’ include a little help breaking the law? The reality was, no matter how fast I drove, I was not going to be ‘on’ time. So, I prayed that at least I would be ‘in’ time.

At last I stood outside the meeting room door, 45 minutes late. I could hear dozens of voices inside –the meeting had started. I prayed that the door was at the back of the room and that the hinges didn’t creak. I don’t often blush, but I’m sure I was red. Sweat dripped down my back. I took a deep breath, took another, winced in anticipation of shame from a hundred faces, and stepped in.

I could barely get in because people were in standing front of the door. Everyone just milled around talking. I stole through the crowd to find a friend. “What’s going on?”

He told me there was a big accident near my boss’s house and he was stuck in traffic. He wouldn’t be there for another 15 minutes. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I certainly felt like God laughed – at me – in a kind-natured way. “See, I told you not to worry.”

I could have driven the entire trip relaxing, enjoying the ocean views, singing to music. Instead I opted for an aneurism.

Don’t worry about anything, pray about everything, and you’ll experience an incredible peace that makes no sense based on circumstances. (Phil 4:6-7). How do I know this is true? It’s taken 20 years and I could tell you dozens of stories where the stakes ranged from simple embarrassment to millions of dollars, and even an offer of witness protection after helping in a federal sting operation. Each time God rescued me from my own foolishness or someone else’s treachery. Sometimes it was because I did the right thing, and everything still went wrong. Each time I thought there was no solution. Each time the rescue came in a way that left my mouth wide open (sometimes it took a few years). Each time that little voice whispered in the back of my mind that I hadn’t needed to stress and that I was safe the whole time.

The bible gives a picture of God’s protection: “Though a thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, no harm will come near you.” (Ps 91). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished that were true. I’ve raged at him, that this kind of thing is crap, and why does he even have it in there. And then I watch it come true in my life … yet again. I feel the gentle reminder, “see, I told you not to worry.”

Have you ever dropped a glass on the floor by mistake? I have. I winced and watched it fall, my clutching fingers only inches too late. It was my wife’s favorite one. It’s going to take forever to clean up all the broken glass. But when it hits, it doesn’t break! My jaw hits the floor as well. Jesus warns we’ll have “tribulation and trials and distress and frustration” but also says “I have deprived it of power to harm you.”  (Jn 16:33 ampc). When I’m going down in flames and my life is about to be shattered into a million pieces, never to recover, shouldn’t I remember that I walk with one who called a dead man out of his grave? For him, nothing is too late, too far gone, or too impossible.

My wife, Megan, likes to say that life is a lot better when I only fear God – then I don’t have to fear anything else.

Maybe one of these days I’ll finally learn that the most powerful being in the universe turns the world under me so that no matter which way I go, I’ll always end up in the best place for me. He longs to do it for you too; for all his children. Maybe I’ll finally learn that as Dallas Willard says, the universe is “a perfectly safe place for us to be”, and when my way is God’s I have nothing else to fear. Ever.