Have you ever been freaked out about something that may or may not be a big deal but you can't get it out of your head? Maybe a better way of articulating this question: do you allow small things in life to become mountains? Have you allowed circumstances in your life, whether large or small, to rule your heart with fear and anxiety? If you said yes to any of these questions, then I want to welcome you to the club of humanity! It's amazing how even Christ followers feel this way, when we know that God himself says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Several weeks ago I was reading a letter I receive from one of my favorite authors. I'm on his mailing list....pretty cool. Ok, anyways, in this letter he talks about the wild fires that broke out this summer in his town. In fact, his neighborhood had to be evacuated because the flames were coming over the mountains near his home. As I continued to read I was just floored by what he said and it motivated me to want to move deeper in my relationship with God. I was reminded what Jesus himself said in John 16:33-that we should expect to face trouble in this life. Christ's also says in this same verse to take heart when problems come because he has overcome the world. However, we don't do that as Christians though. We seem to freak out! Nevertheless, let me just share with you what he said so you can grasp his words like I did and maybe it might give you perspective.
"As we evacuated our home, I could see flames and smoke engulfing the mountainside in my rearview mirror. I thought, it would be awful if our home burnt to the ground. Jesus, why is this happening? Let me pause here and say, in the midst of crisis, heartbreak or tragedy, you can seek God or you can seek understanding but you rarely get both. In time, usually after some time, God can help you sort things out. But in the midst of the storm, seek God. Interpretations comes later. Trust the Larger Story.
But O my goodness, the city was swept up into the drama as if it were the Larger Story. Crisis rushed into a "Story Vacuum." Now, I really do understand this for those who do not know the Gospel. But Christians acted as if this was the most dramatic thing that has ever happened in their life. How can that be? If we are truly living in an epic battle, a wildfire ought to pale in light of our stories of advancing the Kingdom, and the dangers we have faced, the miraculous answers to prayer. But if you do not live in the Larger Story, something will fill the gap. Crisis especially loves to become The Story, and then you are swept up into it. Notice how easily fear or drama can take you out. You lose the treasures of your life as a citizen of heaven.
Recall the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat while a storm raged. The disciple were ruled by the immediate crisis, and they freaked. Jesus was ruled by something else, and he slept. A mighty powerful image. Your reaction to crisis reveals what story you are living in. Further, if you don't have a Larger Story, you will be shocked by crisis. But Jesus was never shocked; he had the amazing ability to maintain perspective in the worst of it. Hear me now - there are legitimate feelings of sorrow and loss in this heartbreaking world. I am not minimizing that. But friends, Jesus slept while the disciples freaked. Was Christ insensitive? Hard-hearted? Or did he know something we MUST know?
There is a Larger Story. Trust the Larger Story."
Yes, I know how you feel, the letter did the same thing to me. I want to be so much better at this journey of faith but I am thankful that I'm learning to trust God and His Larger Story. Also, please don't run from your problems! I can't tell you how many times I've known people who have a problem with someone or something and they avoid the person or situation. That is living out of the Smaller Story. Let me close this blog with one final thought from the letter.
"Once the Larger Story becomes your "normal," no crisis can take you out. You get to "sleep through the storm," while everyone else freaks out. You get to offer love and strength, hope and courage; your heart gets to be well, and from there you can rescue the hearts of others. THAT is our Story."