“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
My 9-year-old black Labrador retriever, Molly, is terrified of two things – fireworks and thunder. If she is outside and hears either, she freaks out, busts through the invisible fence, and takes off running. This past Saturday night was one of those occasions. As the SEC championship game ended and fireworks went off at a neighbor’s house, I immediately went outside to call Molly in. But, she was already no where to be found.
My husband and I jumped into the car and started driving around the neighborhood in search of her. As we rode around calling her name, I kept thinking to myself why in the world would she leave the security and safety of our house and run out into the unknown when she was fearful and afraid.
This thought kept running through my mind that night and the next day as we searched for her. It just didn’t make sense – she had an owner who was right there, ready to comfort her and take care of her, and instead, she chose to run off into the darkness in search of safety with no guarantee of finding it. And then it hit me… this is exactly what I have a tendency to do to God when life feels out of my control.
I started thinking of the times the “fireworks” of life have happened to me – a sudden, unexpected loss or change in life that rocks my world. Or when there has been a “rumbling” in the distance that threatens the “sunny” picture I have created in my mind of what my life should look like. And, I thought how I have allowed those moments to stress me out, and I’ve taken off. I may not have physically taken off, but I have definitely gone on a mental run. I’ve allowed my thoughts to take me places I know God would not want me to go – thoughts that bring me more anxiety, worry, and stress. I’ve had to discipline myself to “take every thought captive to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) and not fear the unknown future.
I have to admit, sometimes it’s a struggle to not trust my fleshly instincts and let my mind race. Like Molly, I think running away is what’s best for me, when in reality my irrational thoughts are just placing me in further danger and harm. I have found the more I spend time in His Word, the easier it is to stay close to Jesus when those unexpected fireworks occur and when those thunderstorms strike. I’ve learned that a deep trust in Jesus is the antidote to my fear…a deep, unshaken, immovable trust. So… I try to abide in that trust – knowing Jesus has my best interest and has done indescribably more than earn “my” title of trustworthy.
Well, we finally found Molly that next day. After all of our searching, she was only a block away… inevitably trying to find her way back home. She was dirty and shaking and whimpering for my attention when she saw me. Of course, I lavished her with my love and told her how much I missed her (yes, I’m “that” pet owner :-)). And as I reflected about her returning home I thought, what a beautiful picture of when we turn our thoughts back to Jesus… He sees us, wraps His love around us, comforts us with His Holy Word, and welcomes us back into His glorious presence.
As this Christmas season begins, I pray you see Jesus with a newfound excitement, admiration, and love, and that you take all your fears and anxieties to the cross. He’s just waiting to help!