Waiting For The Shoe To Drop
It sneaks up on me, this unpredictable foe that disturbs my peace and torments my thoughts.
Perhaps I have always been a bit superstitious and didn’t even know it. The vocabulary of a Christian shouldn’t include words like luck and fate and karma, but maybe I have ingested the principle behind that language without realizing it. No, I don’t carry a rabbit’s foot or some other type of talisman, but possibly I am unwitting prey to the same power that drives the shaman in the jungle. It seems I am continually waiting “for the other shoe to drop,” to find myself shoeless.
You see, I struggle with fear.
That’s not so uncommon really. Fear is a part of human experience; at least, it has been since a day in a long ago Garden when sin brought it into our world. Before that, fear was unknown to humankind. There was nothing to fear because everything was perfect. There were no predatory animals, no poisonous reptiles, no toxic vegetation, no violent weather and no disrupted relationships. It was a beautiful setup for life until the serpent got to Eve who got to Adam and it was all downhill from there. And the first fear the first humans felt was of God, their Creator.
But it didn’t stop there. Once the door to the dungeon of fear was opened, it could never be shut, at least by man. Fears of all kinds now flood the human heart and imagination, and no mortal can stem the tide. Fear is Satan’s own little chamber of horrors, and he is a master of torture.
My own personal brand of fear comes with the promise of its own antidote – anticipation.
Maybe if I imagine all the horrible possibilities, I will negate the chance of one of them actually happening. In other words, if I think about it, I can keep it from happening.
First of all, this is just as futile as believing that a four-leaf clover brings good luck. But Satan doesn’t care how we believe his lies, only that we believe them. And, then, this train of thought leads to an every widening stream of anxiety, for there is nothing so terrible as standing by the living room window, imagining that your loved one has been in a traffic accident and trying to figure out how the news will come and how the next few hours will play out. For, in imagined sequences, we have only the terrifying images of our minds and the poor resources of our own reason to help us sort through the mental carnage.
God gives grace in the moment needed, not for events which haven’t yet occurred.
Yet, we know from the record of human experience that eventually we will get that phone call or hear that knock on the door or read that post on social media. Parents age and die, siblings contract fatal illnesses, grown children get into dangerous situations in faraway places.
Negative tidings will reach all of us at some point. And, if we are not careful, we will begin to expect them all the time. Fiction readers know about the plot-detection sense one picks up from reading a lot–a gut feeling that says “everything is going too well; something bad is about to happen.” This can carry over into our nonfiction lives. “Surely, I am too blessed right now. Something bad is going to happen soon.”
Rather than help me prepare myself for the bad news, this strategy robs me of joy right now and keeps me from embracing the gifts of the present.
God has provided a remedy for fear. It is labeled trust.
Trust does not claim that God will always protect me and my loved ones from bad things; it does not apply biblical promises without regard for His purpose.
Rather, trust is expecting God to be true to His character on my behalf. Trust is believing that His plan for me and for those I love is good and best. Trust is realizing that His character would never allow Him to be vengeful or capricious, but that everything purposed for me flows from His holy nature. Trust is recognizing that the love which caused Him to let His Son die in my place is lavished on me every day and in every situation; nothing can separate me from it. (Romans 8:35) Trust is acknowledging that God does not grant me immunity from the tragedies caused by a broken world, but at the same time affirming that He gives grace in measure for whatever He allows.
Trust is staking my peace on who HE is.
Trust combats fear by removing its power over me.When I believe that God is sovereign over my life and affirm that He is trustworthy in that authority, I cannot be ruled by the fear of random happenings. For if He is sovereign, random applies to nothing in my life.
Does this mean that I will not be blindsided at some time by some disaster? No, but it means that He will not. And it means that I won’t have to figure out the way on my own. He has promised to be with me even in “the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4)
I must accept every day and every situation as God’s assignment. No one illustrates this level of acceptance better than Job, who looks up from his seat on the ash heap and says to his wife “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10, NKJV) He grasped the idea that God gives and takes away, and it is totally within His right to do so.
This principle is illustrated in the lives of many great Christians whose biographies we read – each of them made the choice to let God be in charge of their lives and to accept what He gave, whether prosperity or hardship, illness or health, joy or sorrow, life or death.
When God gives blessings, we should enjoy them to the full while we hold them with open hands.
And if He takes them from us, we must accept that as well. For, if His character is true, we can trust His workings. Abraham said it this way, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25b)
The answer to fear is not in doing, but in resting. It is in letting God be sovereign and finding a place to reside in Him, “under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1) When I am tempted to calculate my chances of calamity and cower in the corner, I can choose instead to actively trust the One who named all the stars and gave them a specific place and who also predestined me according to His holy purpose.
After all, in His book where all the days of my life are written, the word random doesn’t appear even one time.
And no shoe can ever drop beyond His reach.