My third-grade daughter brought home a joke from school.
“Imagine you are in a boat,” she began. “You fall out of the boat and into the ocean. You’re surrounded by sharks swimming in the water. What do you do?”
Digging into my memory for facts about nature, I speculated what one might do if swimming with toothy sharks. The far less exciting truth is I would probably squeal like a squirrel, promptly pass out from fear, and sink to the depths of the sea while the man-eating beasts swim off refusing to hunt such wimpy prey.
After patiently listening to my answer, my daughter smiled in proud triumph and gave the correct answer.
“You stop imagining!” she crowed victoriously.
Those are actually wise words.
I’m pretty good at imagining possible outcomes. If I could clock overtime for the number of hours I’ve laid awake at night thinking through plans, hopes, and concerns for the coming days, I’d be an incredibly wealthy woman! The waste of it, however, is tremendous.
It doesn’t matter how prepared I am. Something can always go wrong. It doesn’t matter how worried I am. A solution may come in the morning. It doesn’t matter how afraid I am. The bad news may never materialize. It doesn’t matter how excited I am. Plans can change in a heartbeat.
We Don’t Know What Tomorrow Will Bring
James warns his readers about wasting too much of today’s energy and opportunity on schemes to control the future. He writes, “Come now you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14).
As moms, we experience these shifts in plans all the time. Your plans to achieve a master’s degree are derailed when the pregnancy test shows a plus sign. You’re about to head out the door when a diaper explosion rocks the baby carrier. The birthday party guests are due to arrive any minute when your toddler spikes a high fever and pulls at both ears. All the kids are having great fun until your child breaks an arm. The mailbox needs replacing because your teen driver backed into it by accident.
We can imagine, plan, and scheme all we want to; nevertheless, tomorrow’s interruptions and delays will often override the best-laid plans. We can worry for days about a dreaded event only to watch our concerns dissipate like a mist when our fears never come to fruition.
Jesus’ Comfort for Tomorrow’s Worries
Jesus comforts his people saying, “’Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble’” (Matt. 6:34).
Each day has enough trouble of its own. There is no need to imagine more of it. Even though it’s okay to think ahead and make plans, our worry shouldn’t outpace today’s circumstances. Jesus doesn’t encourage us by taking away our troubles. He doesn’t smooth out life’s journey so that we never experience any inconveniences or fears or struggles. He reminds us that he already knows what’s around the corner: more trouble. Until this life ends, trouble will always spring up to greet us. We can’t control the struggles we will encounter, but we can rest in the one who carries us through the messes of life. Our great King promises to walk with us and to help us.
We Can Trust God’s Control Over Tomorrow
Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Our job is to put one foot in front of the other as we try to obey by the power of the Holy Spirit. We make the best decision we can with the best information we have and pray that the Lord will give us the wisdom to discern truth along the way. If we put our trust in him, he promises to worry about the details.
After all, what power do we actually hold in our hands? Jesus gently scolds, “’And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?’” (Luke 12:25-26)
If we can’t control whether our child’s eyes are brown or blue, why do we imagine we can control their destiny? If we can’t make the day sunny or stormy, what makes us think we can control a medical diagnosis? If there is nothing we can do to earn our own way into Heaven, why do we try to wrestle control away from the one who made a way for us??
The next time you find yourself imagining how life could be better or fearing what wounds may come, remember to give your future to Christ. Let him handle the bite of the shark. Just stop imagining.
Heather Molendyk has recently moved from Florida to the beautiful state of North Carolina. She is a math teacher’s wife, mother to four musical children, and “grandma” to two mischievous guinea pigs. You can read more about Heather’s view on life at www.heathermolendyk.com or connect with her on Twitter.