What is your first response when something doesn’t go according to plan? Or when a problem arises that threatens your security? Mine is to:
- Call my dad (he’s the best).
- Figure out which of my (several) contingency plans to implement.
- Pray – once I exhaust all my options and can’t figure out what to do (clearly this is disordered).
I’m pretty good at solving problems before they even arise. I can ask all of the “what if” questions to prepare myself for worst case scenarios and have several contingency plans in place just in case. This strength has definitely served me well in my work and my relationships. But strengths usually come with a shadow side and, in this case, mine is that I can “what if” myself into a despairing restlessness – grasping for whatever bit of security and control I can regain over problems that aren’t even real yet.
My “what ifs” and the lengths I go to to prepare myself actually reveal a deep trust gap I have with my Heavenly Father.
One of the places I’ve seen this the most over the past few months is in my finances. It’s been an area of my life in which I’ve worked really hard to make certain I’m safe and secure. I highly value my independence and ability to provide for myself. And, in some ways, that’s a good thing. But, to be honest, I’ve sensed that this value has become unhealthy because every time something small threatens my security – I grasp, I reel, and I spin myself into a pit of worry.
A couple of weeks ago things took a turn for the worse (in my initial perspective). I went to file my taxes and, after a year of freelancing I found that I owed three times more than I estimated. It felt like I had just been sucker punched. My thought process when I saw the sum amount on the screen was: “How could this be happening? This can’t be real. This will crush me and I can’t even imagine how I’ll recover from this!”
No “what if” could prepare me for this, because all sense of security I thought I had was stripped away, and I was left feeling exposed. None of my planning could save me.
That night, I was on the phone with a friend and I felt prompted to share with her about my day. She very kindly empathized with me. And then I added:
“To be totally honest, there is a huge trust gap for me with God and my finances. And it’s been there for awhile. That’s why this is so painful.”
“Oh, hon,” she said,” this all makes so much sense to me now. Your Abba Father loves you far too much and cares for you far too deeply to let this get in the way of your relationship with Him. He’s bringing out the big guns to close this gap because He loves you THAT much!”
In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says that usually, in a seemingly external crisis, God is actually dealing with us at the level of our wills. Chambers says:
“You must be willing to be placed on the altar and go through the fire; willing to experience what the altar represents – burning, purification, and separation for only one purpose – the elimination of every desire and affection not grounded in or directed toward Abba Father.”
Ah, yes. Yes and amen. So, this external financial crisis was actually an act of love from my Heavenly Father. He was bringing out the big guns to get at the root of my back up plans and expose this sense of security I had created for myself for what it was – unpredictable, fleeting, and deceiving. Now that the crisis had revealed a faultline in the bedrock of my faith, He could redirect me back to Him and show Himself mighty on my behalf.
My worst case scenario circumstances had turned into an opportunity for God to show Himself off and provide for me in a way only He can.
I knew that in order to have peace in all of this, I needed to surrender to my Father and ask Him to speak His truth to me. “To whom else could I go when YOU have the words of eternal life?” So as I lay in bed restless that night I asked Him to speak to me. And the Spirit gave me a very vivid picture. I was sitting with God bombarding Him with my “what if” questions.
- “What if I lose everything I have?”
- “What if I don’t get more projects?”
- “What if I don’t get to Estonia when I planned?”
- “What if I have to ask my parents for help?”
- “What if, what if, what if…”
And Abba Father just looked at me with the kindest eyes, smiled and cupped my face in His hands – the hands that hold the whole world. He looked me in the eyes and simply said:
“Hannah, I AM.”
Yahweh, I AM.
He never had a beginning and has no end. He is absolute Truth and absolute reality. He is the standard of what is right, what is good, and what is beautiful. He is constant – He is not becoming, he does not change. He just is who He is, and who He was, and who He always will be. He is present – always with me, always surrounding me, always upholding me. Yahweh, I AM, holds the whole world in His hands and He holds me in His hands. If this is true, and it is, then THIS is my greatest reality – bigger than all my fears, filling my trust gaps, answering my doubt, and transforming my failure, and my circumstances. If this is true, then all that’s left for me to do is just be held and boldly move forward.
When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and called Moses to return to Egypt and lead the Israelites out from captivity, Moses asked a lot of “what if” questions that articulated a lot of his fear and anxiety. And to each one of Moses’ doubts, God responded with: “Moses, I AM,” and “Moses, I am what I am.”
It was that simple. And it still is. Because HE IS.
I AM fills all our gaps. Like that trust gap between me and Him? Yeah, He crossed it 2000 years ago when He sent His son, Jesus, to die for me and all my sin…and all my fear. He filled that gap by raising Jesus to life, so that I would never have to live separated from my Abba Father again. And yet, by placing my affection and security in things like money or stability or predictability, I was actually reopening the gap He already closed.
There is no “what if” that He hasn’t already thought of and covered.
For every “what if” we ask, there is the truth that He is steadfast, unchanging, steady, good, true, faithful, loving and kind.
Right now, in this moment and in my circumstances, He is.
Chambers goes on to say: “After you have gone through the fire there will be nothing that will be able to trouble you or depress you. When another crisis arises, you will realize that things cannot touch you as they used to.”
How could I ask for more? I don’t need a fallback. I don’t need a contingency plan. I don’t need to have it all figured out and under control. No “what if” can touch me because I am safely held in the hands of I Am.
He is here.
He is God.
…and He is for me.
So, here’s to Living Dented and resting in I Am.