I am a chronic planner. When my universe is out of order, I am easily overcome by stress and anxiety. It isn’t necessarily the busyness of life which is stressful, but the sense that I’ve lost control of the busy.
There’s a story from our wedding which my husband and I recall often – an example of my constant desire to plan! Communion was served during the service. We were first, then sat together as our friends and family took communion. We had whispered conversation. “How do you feel? This is going well, yes?” Then after a moment of silence I say: “Help me remember to pack an umbrella for the honeymoon.”
Seriously? That is what I thought was important to express in that moment?! I’m lucky my husband didn’t decide to call the whole thing off!
Maybe this urge to plan is normal – human nature? We are time-bound creatures. We have a finite amount of time on this earth, and uncertainty of the future can cause great stress. Thus, we cling to this perceived need to plan and control. Yet as we dispel so much energy trying to control the future, what are we missing here?
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
The Greek for “live” is zao and its definition and biblical usage is more than simply not being dead. It is a verb; it is to be among the living, to enjoy real life; to experience true life, active, blessed and endless in the kingdom of God; to have vital power of the soul. The Greek for “believe” is pisteuo and its definition is to commit to, put trust in; to place one’s confidence in.
So, we put our confidence in Jesus and experience real life… not at some point in the future, but now! Jesus’ message is bigger than a hope in life after physical death; this constrains God’s work by the human understanding of time. By placing our trust in God now and always, we have hope of new life here, and with it the freedom to just love!
Jesus leads through love. His time on this earth was not one with schedules and task lists. Instead, he was servant to all, ministering where need existed. Jesus commanded us to love one another, and to do so by loving God first.
Our journey is amplified when we are submissive to this command; in a state of constant surrender. Sometimes this requires that we step away from the plans we have for ourselves. God is constantly communicating with us, guiding us to align our heart and plans with God’s plan for us – ultimately, to love one another. Yet this requires discernment because the voices of the world – and sometimes our own objectives – are loud and confusing. Sometimes we simply trust that God will create a path to maneuver through a crazy world. Trust requires lifelong commitment and each day – sometimes each minute – a turn to the cross. With this trust we find true peace and deep joy (vibrant life!) no matter our inability to control the world around us!
My 5-year-old said something profound the other night. I flipped the lights off in her room and she snuggled under her covers. I put my head close to hers, as I always do, and asked her to say her bedtime prayer. She said only: “Amen.” I asked if that was her prayer, and she replied that it was the end of the day, and so she says “Amen!” Now, she was probably trying to be silly – but what spiritual depth that statement exhibits in our lives! Every moment of every day we are to be in prayer; endlessly aware that we are in the presence of God, in a constant state of trust with the Creator. As our day comes to an end, that active communication with God will pause – and so we say “Amen!”