Around mid-August, I hit 50,000 miles in the air for the year. At this point, at least these two things are true: I’m pretty tired of turbulence, and I’m really tired of airplane food.
I was fortunate enough to go on a lot of trips this year to places like Ghana, Arizona, New Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand and China. But I’m a textbook worrier. And there has been a lot to worry about over the past few months.
I tend to trade the moment for the past or for the future. I either dwell on something that happened, or I dread something that’s about to happen. But the biggest thing I’ve learned over the past year is this: God will give you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.
My problem is that the “exactly when you need it” part stresses me out. When I plan for something, I want to be sure that it’s going to go well. I plan and plan and make sure that I’m ready for every possible outcome. I overplan.
But I never get the feeling of sureness that I really want. Doesn’t that happen to you? Even after you spend hours and hours thinking and planning and worrying, isn’t there still part of you that isn’t satisfied?
What I really want out of all of my planning is a sureness that I won’t get until whatever I’m planning for actually happens. Planning can give me confidence, but I won’t have the sureness that I want until after the thing I’m planning for goes well. And I’m wrong for wanting that. But I’m only half wrong.
I’m wrong because I want everything to go my way. And I want to feel like something went well before it has ever had the chance to go badly. My desire is totally unrealistic. But I’m right about wanting sureness.
The problem is that the formula I have set up requires me putting in hours of planning and expecting sureness as a result. I’ve taken God out of the equation altogether.
God is ready to give us all of the sureness we want. But he will not give us sureness in our ability to control things for ourselves. Instead, he is ready to give us sureness in his ability to be who he is.
If we shift our confidence off of our own abilities and onto God, then we will have the sureness we’re looking for. Our sureness won’t be in something going exactly how we want it to. Instead, our sureness will be in a good God, even when everything falls to pieces.
There is freedom in this. When our sureness is in God, we can put our best effort into something without being devastated when it goes poorly. We can still rest knowing that our God is good, and our God is working all things together for our good. When our sureness is in God, we can celebrate when something goes well, grateful to see that God has chosen to include our effort in his success.
That means my big takeaway from this year has a “part two.” It has a “therefore.”
God will give me exactly what I need, exactly when I need it. Therefore, I will do my very best and trust God with the results.
That’s all I can do. If I’m honest, I’ll admit that the reason I overexert myself is because I know I’m imperfect, and I’m trying to make up for that with more effort. But I know I will only disappoint myself. I’m working to get a sureness that God has been offering me from the very beginning.
Trusting myself only leads to bottomless worry. Trusting God leads to bottomless peace.
Use the stuff God has given you. Use your reason. Use your money. Use your work ethic. Use them the way God teaches us to through the Bible. Be faithful, and be fruitful. But don’t try to control the results. Because you’re tinkering with results that have been set in stone since before the creation of the world.
God is good, God is powerful, and God knows what he is doing.