Last week I noticed I was plagued with this murmur of uncertainty in the background of my mind. Kind of like those programs that run on my computer without my knowledge. They tend to slow down the processor and interfere with productivity. Then suddenly a dialogue box opens, requiring me to respond in some way to this unseen program.
I’m much better now at probing around in the dark corners of my mind and drawing those uncertainties to the front. In this way, I can shut them down or put them to good purposes. On this particular day as I called the anxious thoughts to give account, I realized they centered around “not knowing.” Not knowing what tomorrow will bring. Not knowing how life will look this summer. Not knowing…
I’ve been there before. When “not knowing” took me captive for a season.
It was 1984. Nineteen eighty-four was a difficult year for me. It had nothing to do with George Orwell’s book “1984.” At the time, I lived 2000 miles from my family, friends and everything that brought me a sense of safety. Not physical safety, but rather emotional security. In this season, I experienced a panic attack that sent me into a downward spiral for many months.
There was a continous reel of ANTs (Automatic Negative Thinking) playing in my head all.day.long. I couldn’t get away from it because I couldn’t get away from myself. Without going into all the fearsome details, my ANTs centered around not knowing. Not knowing when the Cold War would become a hot mess. Not knowing if communism would soon be my reality. Not knowing if the Soviet Union was on the war path. Not knowing …
I’m going to guess that for those born after 1989, these scenarios mean nothing to you. Unless, of course, you were attentive in history class. In 1984, I don’t think I could have spoken wisely on the Cold War and what it meant. I just know that the Soviet Union was a formidable enemy in my mind. The possibility of waking up some morning to a hammer and sickle flag on every flag pole seemed very real to me. I obsessed all the ways I could lose my freedoms; terror of those eventualities filled my mind. I was barely able to function in today or imagine if tomorrow would come, let alone dream about 20, 30, or 40 years from then.
Fast forward thirty years. In 2014, my sister and I met in Munich, Germany to travel. Right out of high school, she worked as an au pair for a family in Germany. She maintained connection with the family for nearly 40 years and was returning to visit them. She wanted a companion and I gladly agreed.
Dieter, the father, assisted us with travel plans, helping to secure lodging and understand the German transportation options. We visited Munich, Hamburg, Lubbeck and Berlin. At one point, Dieter asked if we knew that we would be in Berlin at the 25th celebration of the fall of the iron curtain. We certainly didn’t, but it was a delightful surprise to us.
It was a tremendous honor to be able to share in the celebration of the fall of the wall. The entire city offered special presentations, historical sites and information about life before the Iron Curtain came down as well as a lighted display along the entire length of where the wall once stood. For three days, we toured, shopped, ate and made ourselves at home in this once forbidden city. We enjoyed it so much we actually lengthened our stay by a day or so.
In 1984, I didn’t know what the future would hold. My mind could only imagine the worst. I do not shame myself for what I experienced, but I did learn from it. The overwhelming lesson I learned is that I won’t know and I am not in control. (Control is an illusion, anyway.) I learned to be okay with not knowing.
I learned that reality is far less scary than imagination. God’s grace is sufficient for today, but not for my imagination about tomorrow.
I learned that there is Someone who knows about tomorrow and next month and next year and twenty years from now. He sees it all in his great eternal NOW! I can rest secure and be at peace in him, because I don’t have to know. I just need to be faithful today with what I do know.
Perhaps ANTs are your reality right now. “If only I knew…” might be running through your mind on a continuous loop. If only I knew, then… Then I could trust, be at peace, take the next step. But that’s actually a myth. You can be at peace, trust, take the next step right now, today because you are in His hands. He holds tomorrow and he loves you more than you can imagine.
I have a friend who justifies worry by saying that 99% of what we worry about never happens. So the more we worry, the less we have to fear. I know he doesn’t really believe that, but many times I act like it’s true. Unfortunately, the thing I lose is my peace today. And all for something that doesn’t happen.
It took me many years to come to this place and I share my story of healing in the blog post and daily reads for 02.04.2020, 02.05.2020 and 02.06.2020. I want to encourage you today that not knowing is okay. Whatever tomorrow may bring is for tomorrow. Jesus reminded us that today has enough to worry about, don’t borrow from tomorrow.
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”Matthew 6:31-34
I find that I always have just what I need for TODAY, when I stay in today. I can leave yesterday back there because it can’t be changed. I can leave tomorrow ahead of me because it isn’t here yet. TODAY is what I have and I don’t want to miss one single moment of God’s goodness right now!
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.Numbers 6:24-26