I dragged myself to church Sunday morning like a bag lady pulling a wagon of worry. It had taken me a long time to get going when I woke up. I was stiff and sore after a bad fall skiing the day before. Moving like lava wasn’t the pace I’d wanted on a day when I needed a jump start. I was cold and discovered the brand new furnace wasn’t working. A hot shower for your aching body is only a temporary comfort when you can’t get your house warm.
I wanted to throw in the towel. I longed to crawl back under the covers but church is a weekly priority. Since I’d already woken the boys I couldn’t back out. The admonition “train up a child in the way that he should go” is a drag when all you want to do is go back to bed. Getting in the car for the five minute drive I got even colder. I thought at least it would be warm at church. I may not feel any better but I won’t be shivering and worrying simultaneously.
We were late and had to sit in the back which was perfect. I didn’t want my grumpy mood on display for anyone to see. When that time came in the service to shake hands, I managed to get up but flopped back down quickly opening my Bible to avoid eye contact. My false peace was interrupted by my friend Bob who started calling, “Kären, Kären, Kären I have something for you.” Grabbing the attention of everyone in his row and mine he made his way to me. “I found this on the way in,” he said and handed me a penny.
Immediately, my bad mood was disarmed. Every worry I’d carried in the door exploded into nothing with the penny. “Trust me!” it shouted as I began to realize that if anyone else had given me a penny the message wouldn’t have been the same. While every penny is special, Bob’s penny was a piece of buried treasure I needed dug up. What Bob didn’t know, but God did, was the root of my anxiety. The “To Do” list, furnace, and bruises were distractions. The real worry was over why I’d fallen skiing and the frightening memories it stirred up.
Memories that have Bob and his friends woven into scenes that rewind in my head when my health feels threatened. A subconscious slide show of days when Bob and his Starbucks buddies would see me in the morning, knowing I was sick and remind me they were praying for me. They’d distract me by asking if I’d found a penny and no matter what the answer, they would have an encouraging word for me. They had faith to share with me on days I couldn’t muster my own faith. Often I went to get a cup of coffee just to get a boost from these wonderful surrogate grandparents God put in my life.
I sat down with Bob’s penny. I was blessed by his kindness and God’s faithfulness. It’s like God to remind me of His care. God knew I was scared. I hadn’t fallen skiing because I’m a lousy skier (which I am) I fell because I blacked out. I saw stars before I felt snow on my face. I recall going fast but I was in control. Nobody was near me. Then a flash of light and everything went dark. The cold woke me up. If I’d been aware of what was happening I would have tensed up and been hurt worse. When the sky came into focus I remember telling myself not to panic. I don’t know what happened. This isn’t the way you want to fall. It’s important to be alert and oriented when you’re skiing!
The blackout came after several months of confusing symptoms similar to those I battled years ago. This isn’t the way to start the New Year but no amount of denial on my part has helped and neither have my doctors. Only my primary care doctor is calm. I know that’s for my sake since we’re friends. The rest are “concerned” which is a euphemism for worried. Ironically, Christian’s like myself say the same thing to mask our fears, “I’m not worried, just concerned.”
We say concerned because God tells us not to worry so we replace the forbidden word with concerned, anxious, or apprehensive in order to be politically correct. These are all just synonyms for fear. Limping into church I felt scared. Every benign explanation for why I might have blacked out had slid down the hill with my courage. Too many emotional trigger points had been pushed. I went to church trying to mask my distress with other legitimate reasons.
God saw through my facade. He knew what was echoing in my head. He knew I was worried I’d ridden my wave of good health to its end. This opened a Pandora’s-box of other concerns. The only rational one being what it could mean for my family. The silliest being, people wouldn’t read my blog. The way I had it figured the penny story only minister’s to people because I got well. If I’m sick again people might question God.
This is stinky thinking. I needed Bob’s penny to bring me back to my senses. Worry had consumed me. My circumstances were the focus instead of God. I was circling around the possibility of getting really sick again instead of remembering how much bigger God is than my concerns. I was fretting about my physical health. I was forgetting it’s the smallest piece in the puzzle of what makes a person well. Nobody is in perfect health ever. Our bodies, like all living things, break down. This doesn’t mean we can’t be well at the same time. Health and wellness are different things.
Sitting in church with my penny in hand I made a list of all the things I was worried about if my health were to fail. I realized my worries were all silly. Even if f I took every worry to its farthest conclusion they were pointless. They’re smokescreens designed to sidetrack me which is what the enemy of my soul wants. Fear is the oldest trick in the book and he uses it because it works. I know this with certainty. In a similar situation, the first thing I would point out to a friend is how the enemy is trying to frighten them.
Fear blows everything out of proportion. God wants me to remember this now. When we’re afraid we create our own turmoil by constantly analyzing, questioning, and imagining possible outcomes. My health isn’t the greatest but I’m up, walking, skiing, writing, and in lots of other ways still ticking loudly. I can choose to get all caught up in the doctor’s worries or I can get caught up in what God wants, which is for me to trust Him through my uncertainty.
As we left church I was reminded that the most persistent choice we face each day is whether we choose to trust God. You would think after finding 17,288 pennies I wouldn’t need the reminder. I do. I’m thankful for penny friends like Bob. They are a much greater testimony of God’s faithfulness in my life than my health ever will be. God is good. I’m well. The rest will work itself out.