Poison and Prayer
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.
It was just past midnight and I screamed myself awake, sitting straight up, certain that a car had just crashed into the side of our house. In a few moments, I realized that there had actually been a bad wreck right outside our bedroom window. A gray SUV and it's drunk driver had slammed into the calmness of the night and my dreams and two mailboxes and a telephone pole and I had awoken into the very small, eerily quiet in-between time before the response. Then things began to happen. Neighbors, phone calls, moaning, crying, lights, voices.
We watched from our safe, warm bed... too shocked and frightened to be useful. The quick selflessness of our neighbors shamed me, the cries haunted me, and the fragility and unpredictability of life still seems to loom every time the sun goes down and I hear cars driving soberly past our lives in the dark.
What's next? What might be invisibly unfolding in a story I can't see or hear but is moving towards my life at a dangerous speed? What might I be slammed with at any moment?
I checked on Annika twice that night. Double-checked the locks every night since. It's a vulnerable and frightened whisper that keeps me pulling blinds and panicking every time the heater kicks on in this old house and it sounds like footsteps in the attic.
It was a spiritual opportunity that the enemy saw that night. An opportunity to take my small, strengthening peace and pierce it with fear. And anxiety has bled out slowly down into my gut and up into my throat for days.
What is that we are anxious about?
What is it that whispers in the dark and makes us feel suddenly so insecure?
What fuels our distrust of God's sovereignty, his goodness, and his love?
When life quiets and things are still, it slowly raises it's head and starts to scream.
We look into the future, or survey our life and world and our current circumstances, and we are offered two cups from which to drink. One is fear. The other is faith.
We swallow the fear and it is a poison. It drips down, slowly creeping it's way and eating away at us from the inside. It makes us fear our neighbor and hate ourselves and even curse God. But if we can reject it, receive and drink deeply from that other cup...
2,000 years ago at a well in Samaria, Jesus shocked a young woman by breaking the silence between them. He shattered every assumption she had about him as he casually spoke to her with an almost-mischievous irony, igniting her curiosity and interest. It is a picture of his personality: comfortable, confident, and oh-so-magnetic. He tells her mysteriously, "See, I have this drink to offer you. But, you don't even know to ask me for it because you don't know who I am... You don't know that the drink I am offering will become a spring inside of you. It will be forever."
That cup that Jesus offers, that drink, it is living water. It is salvation. It is hope, trust, faith... all the things that we cannot sustain on our own. It wells up inside of us from the deep well of our salvation and becomes a spring. And he is always offering it. Always restoring to us the joy of our salvation, feeding us, nourishing us as we abide in him.
And so even now, even in this... even in all things, we are given a chance to choose what we'll swallow.
Do not be anxious about anything, the Bible says. Do not be afraid and anxious about even one little thing. Instead, pray. In everything, pray. Let your requests be known to the Father who loves you and in doing so, drink deeply from the cup of faith. It is not always the sweetest drink, but it is the one that gives life. And it wells up inside of us like a life-giving spring to others.