I’m playing the old Whack-a-Mole game at the arcade in my head. Fear pops up- smack- down it goes, but up pops anger-bonk- it disappears, but from the corner pops doubt. This happens when I try to handle things on my own, things like worry, resentment, doubt… I may manage to beat down initial responses, but up pop, their toothy heads with surprising force, where least expected. I usually go a few rounds before realizing I’m in the game. And with this realization comes (eventually) handing the mallet to the only One who can win at this stuff. When Jesus steps in, lights flash GAME OVER, clamoring bells and whistles halt, and things calm down, wa-a-y down. Then I tell Him the truth, that I don’t have the slightest idea what I’m doing, or how I’d do it even if I knew what I was doing…
“…I thought I was…”
“…But then they…”
“…so then I…”
“…it looks like…”
“…now I can’t…”
And-get this- He knows exactly what I’m talking about. He understands and doesn’t say, “Haven’t we been over this before?”
Even though the answer is,
“Yes, we have. Many times.”
Together we make an itemized list of what’s really bugging me, and He only interrupts to say things like:
“Umm…are you sure you want to defend yourself on this point? Shall I replay that particular portion of your life so you can see how it really went down?”
Hint: Take His word for it. He’s always right, just accept it. After all, to confess actually means to agree with. So do it. He knows what’s what. Take His Word for it. Take His Word and apply it to every worry, angst, and doubt.
Here’s how: Look up the word “worry” (or fear, or unbelief) online at Blue Letter Bible or Bible Gateway. For you newbies, find a translation you can actually comprehend-like the New Living Translation (NLT). And to you King James Only types, I say c’mon- when was the last time you heard someone say, “…So… we trussed up our fardels…”? Acts 21:15; Geneva Bible.
Okay so then, scroll down the list of verses containing that word worry until you find verses that can be used as mallets the next time a mole rears it’s ugly head. Apply as needed. That’s how to beat the game- any game- your mind entices you to play.
I just might get myself in trouble here, but what else is new? Actually, the people that might disapprove are already in heaven (Hi Dad, Hi Mom).
I love Bob Marley’s music (Don’t Worry, About a Thing…) and his general thoughts on material wealth, oh-and dreadlocks- I’d have those if my hair wasn’t as straight as a stick. Think of it: Never having a bad hair day because every day hair would be bad. But Bob and I part ways in the cannabis department. The only pot smoking around here is the one full of pinto beans, sitting on the way-too-hot burner.
And Rastafarian religious dogma is way out there- I mean, according to the local authority (my son Tim), Marley died of a toe infection, a toe infection -due to anti-doctor beliefs. I could never buy into that. Because of flip-flops. I stub my toes way too often for that nonsense. I’d be dead way before now. Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t make me trade soles to save my soul.
But the general attitude of a Rastafarian is “whatever floats your boat,” so with that in mind, I think I’m a Raftafarian. My life raft is Jesus Christ. He not only floats my boat, He is my boat; the Boat no rough waters or changing tides can thwart as I float safely across to that other shore. Like this:
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. 1st Peter 3:18
They will pass safely through the sea of distress, for the waves of the sea will be held back. Zech. 10:11
What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ Acts 27:24
Now might be a really good time to consider what floats your boat or Who, before you stub your toe or something. Consider this a formal invitation to join the Raftafarians.
As an insignificant side note-and I may be really wrong on this- I think God just might wear dreads:
“I watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One sat down to judge. His clothing was as white as snow, his hair like purest wool.” Daniel 7:9
I walk to the corner market almost every day to get my cultural fix. Not only does the little Mexican market have the best and cheapest produce in town, but the lusty Latino music brings out my inner Salsa, which I keep to myself. Mostly. I do tend to walk the aisles with a little more wiggle, and have sometimes thumped melons to the beat, pretending to be checking for ripeness. Sadly, the music becomes well-behaved as more customers show up.
The panaderia trays, stacked high and sweet, with cheese-filled rolls and breakfast breads typical to hispanic appetites, chant in Latin, “Carpe diem! Carpe panem!” At the far end of the market is a counter where men in work boots sit with mugs of Nescafe and platters of what look like sacred offerings to Mother Mary: eggs and tortillas, crowned with slices of avocado, tomato, and fresh cheese. A bottle of hot sauce stands at attention, nearby.
On a recent summer morning, when the sun was already giving off more than its fair share of heat, my five-year-old grandson and I walked to this market, greeted along the way by neighbors engaged in the daily therapy of hand-watering their lawns.
As we entered the market, we met milk and honey on the other side: a small freezer full of creamy Mexican confections: fresh strawberries n’ cream, rum raisin, rice pudding and mango. Well. It WAS breakfast time, so I solemnly explained to my grandson one of the many blessings of being a grandma: I could decide what we’d eat, and when. So one cantaloupe and a pound of cherries later, we were out the door with our two icy breakfast bars. His, the rice-pudding flavor, which he immediately pronounced to taste just like gag-nog (his favorite drink), and mine, a raisin-y mellow yellow with rum flavoring. We sauntered home to the backyard hammock, and lay there, pretending to be squirrels.
Pushing my toe against the dirt to keep a slow swing, and licking a drip forming on the edge of my ice cream, I thought, “Right here, in the middle of straight-laced, law-abiding Salt Lake City is this oasis, this…Grace. Law says, “Stick with the known, the predictable, the safe. And no dessert until after dinner.” Grace says, “Let’s Dance and have ice cream for breakfast!”
Through Jesus Christ, “… you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. ” Romans 6:14 (NLT)
Yes, there’s a need for law- but I am so glad Jesus fulfilled the law, so we can have grace for breakfast. And Lunch. And Dinner.
“Take these with a full glass of water,” the pharmacist instructed, handing me pills the size of golf balls-well, okay- miniature golf, maybe. In a hurry the next morning, I grabbed one as I headed out the door, and swallowed it dry. Or tried to. It stuck in my throat, and no amount of tonsil gymnastics could joggle it down. At one point I thought I’d succeeded, until an acrid taste crept up my throat, proving otherwise. Knowing it could cause permanent damage and scar tissue, I stopped for water and washed it down.
Life sometimes hands us pills too big to swallow alone: bad news, a shocking event- the kind that sticks in our throat, placing life in a freeze-frame, as we gasp for breath. This kind of pill comes with instructions, too:
TAKE WITH A FULL GLASS OF WATER.
The Living Water, the kind Jesus offered the desperate woman at the well (John 4:7), keeps us from suffocating on things too hard, too big for us. It washes away residual bitterness, and protects against chronic heartburn- you know the kind; the emotional fire that springs up suddenly, triggered by some innocuous thing, just when we’ve convinced ourselves we’ve come through.
Whatever’s going down in this life, we can cry,
“O Lord, stay with me! Help me swallow this! Fill me with the Water of Your Holy Spirit!”
He promises to do so. His well of Living Water never runs dry. I know this Full Well.
“Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:15
I imagine the ceilings of hell will be plastered with these words: “If Only_______” Those souls attempting to lie down and rest will be tormented by all the regrets of this life. “If only I had chosen differently….” “If only I hadn’t…” In fact, I sometimes find myself experiencing a little bit of hell right here on earth. I should’ve been a better mother/wife/Christian/teacher/cook…ad infinitum.
Years ago, I was talking to a young woman haunted by guilt and regret. She said, “I made such stupid choices, and now I’ll never be able to live in the perfect will of God.” I asked her, “Do you love God today? Are you willing to do the very next thing He tells you to do? If so, then you are in His perfect will today.” God’s grace works backwards as well as forward (and today). Like syrup over waffles, his mercy fills ever high and low place, and every hole in between, if we will be His today. So the next time the devil jabs you with the pitch-fork of “If Only…” snatch it from him and use it to roast marshmallows at the campfire of the One who says, ALL THINGS work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purposes.
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also praying for us. Romans 8:34
No matter what your yesterday, NOW is the day of His grace, NOW is the day of salvation.
2 Cor. 6:2