My imagination is terrible at predicting the future. I mean seriously, it really stinks.
I’ve always been prone to worry and fear. When I was little, my brother and I would pray every night that we would have “no fires, no fear, and no bad dreams”. As I’ve gotten older, my fears haven’t gone away, they’ve just gotten more sophisticated. Now I fear things like cancer, and miscarriages, my children getting seriously hurt.
When my imagination injects itself into my fears, that’s when things get really bad. Suddenly a little shortness of breath isn’t a sign that I’m out of shape, but a sign of early onset heart disease. Which means that I might die suddenly of a heart attack. Which means that I won’t be around for my kids. Which means…
It goes on and on and on. And it’s not only about health issues. My imagination can run wild with worry over just about anything, from difficult situations in the church to concerns for my children to paying the bills.
But here’s what I’m learning. First of all, my imagination would make a terrible psychic. Most of the things that I worry about never come true. I waste so much time and energy churning over things that probably won’t happen. Mark Twain hit it on the head when he said:
I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
I’m also learning that God gives grace for today. Period. I will meet troubles today and God will give me grace for those troubles. He does not give me grace today for troubles that will come tomorrow. God doesn’t give me grace for imaginary troubles, he gives me grace for real troubles. That’s why worrying is such a stupid waste of time. I don’t yet have the grace for tomorrow, and when I look at tomorrow through the lens of today, it seems overwhelming. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said:
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
When I get to tomorrow’s troubles, God will be there with sufficient grace. The problem with my imagination is that it always leaves God out of the equation. It always imagines a future in which God has forgotten to show up.
But God showed up today with enough grace to get me through the day, and he’ll show up tomorrow too. So shut up imagination.
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