I remember my last semester in college when my heart felt anxiety and fear, as I tried to figure out what was next. And a year later, the same anxiety and fear, as I tried to decide which school to teach at. And now, as I prepare for a self-brought-on-but-feeling-very-led-towards slight career change, I feel that same fear. It’s that feeling in the deepest pit of your stomach that makes you want to vomit everywhere. It’s the desire to hide underneath your bed and hope upon hope that no one and nothing find you.
I remember one time in college my friend Kristen shared this verse with me or a group of people or somewhere – that’s not important. What is important are the words, the truth that this verse communicates – Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
It is amazing how quickly my heart forgets this place of fear and anxiety into which God faithfully steps in time and time again and just works things out. It is because I plan my course, but God determines my steps – in other versions of the Bible it says guides, directs, establishes, leads. I plan. He leads.
And that is why Jesus tells me in Matthew 6 to not worry about tomorrow. He tells me that the flowers don’t worry and the birds don’t worry because flowers and birds know that God provides. They see him provide in drought and in storm. They know that times of need are temporary, so they wait, knowing that God is faithful. And how much more valuable am I to God than flowers and birds, right? He calls me daughter and friend. He faithfully guides and comforts me in spite of my reckless spirit. He grants me righteousness and holiness that I did not earn. And he promises provision.
And I’ve seen it. He’s done it before. He continually saves and blesses and provides for his wayward daughter. And in these moments of anxiety and worry and stress – when the worse-case scenario runs through my head – I have to remember that he is God and he is good and he directs my steps in spite of my well-thought-out, overly-detailed plans. I have to remember that, even if the worse-case scenario does happen, I am blessed and loved and valued and saved by the creator of the universe, so it’s really not that bad. In fact, “bad” is not even a word to use; worse-case scenario with Jesus is actually good.
This – right here – this moment, day, week, month, year, life – this is temporary. I can survive this; more than mere survival, I can rejoice in these moments because this darkness and uncertainty is temporary, even if it lasts for the rest of my life. Because in the end, I get heaven. And in heaven there is no anxiety or fear or worry. And that is where I get to spend all of eternity – foreverevereverever – not here, bogged down in the fleshy, sin-y body.
So, I can breath, and I can surrender, and I can relax, knowing that the inventor of heaven and earth, my loving and cherishing father, has already determined my next step.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, Ellie Shea; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12)