There he sits. My dad. In his chair, with his cushions, playing video games. His figure is more gaunt that it used to be. The slope in his neck and shoulders belies the tall, proud man he used to be. But in there, you can still perceive a glimmer of quiet strength. The strength that now is imbued on me and runs in my veins. The same strength that undoubtedly runs in my son’s veins. He has lost much, and sacrificed much in his life. But God has seen him through all of it.
Now, though, the Parkinson’s has taken away that man from us. The dementia resulting from it has addled his mind. He weaves conspiracy theories everywhere and is paranoid to a fault. He is a shadow of the man he used to be.
But what he used to be wasn’t always that great. He made it clear to me far more times than not that he saw me as a complete failure in life, thought all my decisions were horrible and held me in the shadow of himself and my little sister. He left a legacy in me of self-doubt, feeling incredibly insignificant in life, and a terrible fear that I will be a father like he was.
It wasn’t all bad, though. He’s the one that sparked my passion for science, he built the foundation for reason, strength, and a hard work ethic in me. Taught me right from wrong, and how to treat a woman.
Why do I write all this? Because in my father’s life one of the few constants that he held onto were fear and worry. These things motivated his every decision, every motivation. He spent a lifetime running from them. Guarding against them.
Sure, they led to a lot of really good safety precautions and wise decisions. But, it also led to the very thing that is now killing him. The intense stress from a lifetime of fear has put him in that chair, in the condition he’s in now. And yet, he still clings to it. Still killing him.
I write this to illustrate what worry accomplishes. Nothing at best, decay of our lives at worst.
Christ said in Matthew 6:25-33
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I especially like verse 27:
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ?
Luke 12 adds this part after that line (verse 26):
Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Worry does exactly that: nothing. Think about it, just by the act of worrying itself, what has that ever accomplished? I can worry about getting a job, but that does not make a job appear. I can worry about getting into an accident, but that doesn’t make me a safer driver. With all I’ve gone through it’s become incredibly clear to me how little worrying actually accomplishes…..
Now, there is a difference between concern and worry. There’s also a difference between judicious decision making and worry. Worry is a feeling. You might think that “Well, this feeling may not accomplish anything, but it can lead to me doing something which will accomplish something.” But, I would add, worry is not a necessary component in that equation. You can decide to do what is needed, wise, or right without worrying. I can be concerned about something without worrying about it. But the key lies in the decision. Neither of those things necessarily leads to a decision or action. I can decide to be a safer driver because it is the wise thing to do without worrying about getting into an accident. And I know that getting a job is something I need to do to support my son and myself without worrying about it.
Sometimes we need to separate feeling and action.
This is where trust is inserted. Trusting in the Lord is usually a bigger leap than trusting in another person. A person you can see right there, get verbal or even written confirmation that that person intends to do such-and-such a thing. You can have all sorts of visual or other types of confirmation that it is being or has been done.
With God, you just have to trust the big, abstract guy in the sky.
But, with trusting, with doing, comes ability. It is only through doing sometimes that you can learn to do anything. It’s one of the hardest things you will ever do, and just when you get better at it usually it will suddenly get harder again. But, oftentimes, it is the only way to see results.