Today a good old west Texas dust storm blew in. The sky took on a red hue as the dirt filled the sky and filled our noses and made our eyes water. It reminds me of our days in Lubbock, when looking out our window would sometimes reveal what looked like an alien planet, a weird glowing redness having transformed the street where we lived.
Adelade was in her room working on math homework. I pointed to the sky and she looked through the glass of her now dusty window and noticed for the first time how red things were getting. I told her that it was a dust storm, and she immediately threw down her pencil with panic. She said, I read a book about this. The Dust Bowl. People die from this! I could see the gears in her practical little head turning as she tried to remember what we must do to prevent being suffocated by this dust storm. I quickly explained that this little dust up is harmless, other than making us sneeze a lot. But, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her in that moment when her fear was so real.
Just a few weeks ago she brought home a paper she had written at school. It was about our family. She spent several sentences describing Chad and me, and then came the statement that stopped me in my tracks. She wrote:
They are never scared.
And, there it was. In all of its third grade, carefully printed glory. An untruth about me that my child believes with all of her heart. A non-reality that she has been convinced of because of calm talk and joking and deliberately slowed breathing and my demands that my heart stop pounding out of my chest when we are in scary situations. I have tried to stay steady even when I am so very unsteady because I don’t want my children to worry. And yet, here she stood, panicked in the middle of her cozy bedroom because some dust was blowing around outside.
And I knew exactly how she felt. Fear is not always based on reality. In fact, most of the time our fear is about what might happen instead of what is actually happening. The truth is that we are all scared, in our own ways. We all have our pet worries and fears. And, we all try to hide our anxiety while we tremble inside. But, there is good news for us when we are standing in the middle of the dust storms of life that make us panic.
The Bible says that worrying is basically a waste of good brain power. It says that none of us can add even a second to our lives by worrying about what’s going to happen next. It even tells us that God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but one of power and love and self-discipline. Can you believe that? He says that He gives us power. Not as in power to control every situation to our satisfaction. But, power to live a life that is not ruled by fear.
So, the next time we see that eerie red dirt rolling over the horizon of our lives, heading straight for us with its likely harmless blowing, let’s remember that God is not worried and He doesn’t think we should be either. And, then on the rare occasion when we see an actual tornado tearing its way through our little world, we can lean on Him still, and trust that when He said we don’t have to be afraid, He meant it.
When Adelade headed to bed tonight, the wind was still blowing that red dirt all around. And, tomorrow she will get up and go to school and sneeze a lot. That’s west Texas for you. But, I pray we won’t waste any brain power on worrying. We need those brain cells to figure out third grade math. Yes, I just wrote that.
So, don’t worry about tomorrow, my friends. It’ll take good care of itself. You just concentrate on trusting God, and everything else is just long division.