“When I grow up I want to be a rocket scientist,” Think Tank announced, and after a moment he added, “or a garbage collector.” It sounds like a line from “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” but actually, Think Tank is onto something. He has the brains to achieve the first, but he also has the common sense to evaluate his own skill set and current experience and plan accordingly.
Tonight, when I think about Think Tank and his dreams for the future my heart aches, and it’s not because he’s considering a career in trash collection. At this moment, I don’t care if he wants to teach underwater basket weaving in the Sonoran Desert because I can’t help but consider the never-to-be-realized dreams and plans of those young people in Santa Barbara, California. Which of them wanted to become a minister, activist, actor, scientist, teacher, or parent? I think of their families, of the mother I saw crying on the news. I imagine myself in her place, and then I put my own children—who will soon topple from our nest and fly off to college—in their place. And it scares me.
I’m known in these parts for my “worst case scenario” thinking; I try to prepare for any contingency. When we walk around the neighborhood I carry a large stick, just in case some ferocious dog or black bear should attack us. My family dresses in similar bright colors for field trips so I can spot my kid in a crowd. I don’t allow the little people to eat grapes in the car because I can’t do the Heimlich maneuver when I’m driving. (Note to self: learn the Heimlich maneuver!) When we travel I pack at least two pairs of underwear for each night away. I caution my oldest to take his own bottled water to parties—and for goodness sake, don’t ever ever put it down!
I confess I’m a worrier. It’s not about being prepared; it’s more about fearing what will happen when I’m not. I fret about concussions on the football field, kids falling on the stairs, Eddie’s air travel and his road trips…and now about random shootings and stabbings. I hate snap decisions because I have to weigh every option; my second thoughts give Lot’s wife a run for her money. I was told it’s a sign of perfectionism, but I know my worrying is all about my lack of control over events and time. All my carrying on does as much good as complaining about the weather; I can’t make it rain no matter how much boogying I do. In Matthew 6:27 Jesus says, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” And I’m barely 5 feet tall, so there you have it.
All my worrying is part of my feeble attempt to be a cover for my children, to shelter them rather than thrust them out into the blinding rain. I don’t think it’s my job to show them all the ugliness of life so they can be prepared for it. Really, the only thing you can do about the unexpected is to expect it. Who among us can really prepare for all that we could face today in this world?
Oh, that’s right—the only Who! The Great I AM. What my grandma called “worriation” eventually drives me back to the cross, to Jesus Christ, God’s great Backup Plan, His provision for flawed, fearful folks like you and me. I know God has a plan to give my children a hope and a future; He has a clear vision for my children even when my glasses are a little less rosy (Jeremiah 29:11). When the whole Garden of Eden thing didn’t pan out—as He knew it wouldn’t—and after Noah’s Ark floated back into a sea of unrighteousness and sin, He sent Jesus, His plan all along. Secretly, I’m glad I don’t control everything. My answer to murderers—smite! People who hurt children—boils! People who don’t believe the Bible—watch out! Sure, in my not-so-perfect world my little people might always eat their vegetables and I would never lose my car keys, but then we wouldn’t have fields of daffodils because I’m scared of the bees that pollinate them. We’d be overrun with flies because the Lord knows I wouldn’t have created spiders.
And that’s just it. The Lord does know. The Lord who designed pollination and orb webs is the same Lord who governs destruction, disease, and death. Instead of worrying more tonight about shootings and derailments and unrealized dreams and backup plans I’ll bend my knees and bow my head, “casting all my cares upon Him,” for He truly cares for M&M, Brown Sugar, the Lone Ranger, Maven, Think Tank, Songbird, the Crusader, Eddie, you, and me. (1 Peter 5:7)