“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
There are things that create resistance in us, which will slow the free flow of Spirit in and through us. Pride is one such inhibitor, as is anger, unbridled desire, envy, and apathy.
Another, that I want to speak about this week is worry, or concern... specifically, a lack of trust in God. Most assuredly, we all trust in something or someone. But we do not always follow the credo “In God We Trust”. Sometimes we place our trust in chance, or fate, or luck, or ourselves. It is evidenced by how we speak as we affirm the miseries of our lives: this always happens to me; I can always count on this happening...and so on. Lack of trust plays out in our lives as worry and concern, fretting and fear. There have been, and will continue to be, incidents in our lives that cause us delight and others that cause us concern. They twinkle through our lives like sunlight through trees.
When I was a child, I have some fond and vivid memories from walking to school. One of my most favorite things on the walk was to jump over the shadows of the cars that came by. It must have been a busy street at that time, for I remember having many opportunities to practice this skill.
I think I also practiced feeling worried and concerned. As a child, there is little to concern ourselves with. But I remember the anxiety I created in my imagination from the approach of that worrisome shadow. I was worried that it may touch my toe before I jettisoned off the ground, or that I may not leap high enough to find fully sunny ground once again.
I discovered that the best way to ensure my safety from the shadow was to run and gain some momentum. That usually propelled me to ‘safety’ of sunny ground - unless it was a bus, and then no matter how I tried, into the middle of the shadow I would fall.
There was a time, a year or so ago, that I tried this again while out on a walk. Little Patrick inside insists on being let out of his cage occasionally. I can tell you, that after some 57 years, my timing was off, injuries to my Achilles Tendons have limited my abilities, and I certainly didn’t have the spring I recall from my ten-year-old legs. But it was still fun, and I was quickly caught up in the imaginary worries of getting my toes smacked, or landing in the shadow. It all seemed so real when I was a child: the concern, the anxiety, and fear of getting caught by a shadow.
Today, we all have shadows that are passing through our lives - health challenges, financial challenges, relationship struggles, emotional and physical worries, and they seem so real. They come and they go in an endless cycle, alternating with the joyful sunny stretches.
As a child I knew - I trusted - that if I landed in a shadow, I was disappointed, but I was all right. Nothing could harm me. Even though I had worries and concerns, I deep down knew that I would be ok. I think as an adult I can take a lesson from Little Patrick. Regardless of the shadows that pass through my life, deep down, I can remember that no matter what, I will be ok.
This is trusting in God - deep down knowing that no matter what happens, we will be ok. God brings about perfect solutions in our lives for all concerned, despite the troubling circumstances that seem to be rearing their heads. Sometimes we feel like David when he wrote Psalm 3:
1 O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. 2 So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” 3 But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. 4 I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain. 5 I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. 6 I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.
7 Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! 8 Victory comes from you, O Lord. May you bless your people.
It is not easy to trust, but with practice, like jumping over shadows, we can improve. Over the years, we have developed habitual ways of responding to difficulties: we run, hide, threaten, get angry, cry foul play or just cry; we point our fingers and blame others. We have developed many ways of handling our shadows.
Remembering from Little Patrick days, that one great way to jump a shadow is to run towards it. As foreign as that seems, sometimes the best way we can overcome fear and worry is to face it and move forward, gaining momentum from our trust that God sustains us and protects us in every situation. Like a pilot who loses airspeed in his plane, diving directly toward the Earth can supply enough speed to then gain more altitude...hopefully.
It is not running head-long into the difficulty that I am talking about. It is running toward it and then leaping over it - rising above it - as it were. Einstein tells us that we cannot solve a problem at the same level of thinking, or the same level of consciousness, that created it. But we can rise above it, acknowledging that it has no power over us - that it is as much illusion to our spiritual natures as is the shadow of a car to our physical nature. Even if we landed flat in the middle of it, we are surrounded and protected by God’s Light, Love, and Presence.
When we release worry and concern, and trust in God, we let the Father within do His works, and are letting Spirit to move freely. This may take some time to master. Becoming aware that we are in a state of worry or fear is the first step to releasing any anxieties that we have. The second step is to know that God has a plan for us, and that plan is good and perfect.
There is a divine plan for each of us. It is not ours to know the plan until it is revealed to us. Until we see the unfolding of that plan, we are to develop trust. During this time, we can abandon our habits of fear and worry. We can control our thoughts and not allow them to flow towards the negative. We can stop trying to predict the outcome and cease our fretting about the shadows. Rather, we can jump the shadows and trust God, rising above in our conscious thinking while remaining centered in God. When we can accomplish that our way is made clear and smooth, and the outcome is exactly what we need at the time.
Ecclesiastes 7:18 teaches this: It is best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears (reveres) God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it. Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful than ten rulers in a city.
Trust and wisdom walk hand in hand in those who are attuned to God. We trust in God’s plan, and at the same time strive to understand all the ramifications of how to keep ourselves and others protected and healthy. We see this in the laws of our times: We trust God and wear a seat belt in our vehicles, wear a helmet on our motorcycles and bikes, and stop at red lights. This is not fear or worry; it is prudence and good judgment.
We trust God and completely douse the campfire upon leaving, wear mitts when removing the casserole from the oven, and have smoke detectors in the house. We trust God and wear a mask in public, socially distance ourselves, and follow the guidelines to help flatten the pandemic curve of the Covid 19 virus while protecting the most vulnerable among us. We trust God and lock the house at night, smell the leftovers before eating them to make sure they are not spoiled, and take our supplements and prescribed medications. Acting with wisdom and consideration for ourselves and others does not necessarily indicate fear and a lack of trust in God; it is actually showing wisdom.
The shadows and the light we encounter are meant to be part of our lives, and we are being divinely led by Christ within. Our lessons are to release the resistance, jump the shadows, loosen our grip on fear, concern, and worry; to become keenly aware of our oneness with God, to let the power, wisdom, and energy of Spirit flow through us, and let the Father within do His works.
It is my prayer that we will know that sometimes the best way to overcome a shadow is to race towards it, take that leap of faith, and rise above it. I pray we trust our plan is being prepared by God. Let us walk in the light, rise above the shadows, and know that no matter what happens, God is creating perfection through us, sustaining perfection in us, and making everything right for us.