Thursday, October 23, 2008

Do Not Panic

And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don't panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won't follow immediately." Luke 21:9 NLT

You never saw anybody in a panic who did not grab for themselves, whether it was sugar or butter or nations. –Oswald Chambers*

The clearest evidence that God’s grace is at work in our hearts is that we do not get into panics. –Oswald Chambers*
Panic. Chambers wrote these words in 1914. World War I had just begun and, understandably, Britain was frightened, terrified, scared, alarmed and in panic. Each of these words are used in different translations of the verse above. Chambers chose the Moffat translation, which uses “scared,” but the word he focussed on was “panic,” even though the NLT wouldn’t be produced for another 82 years. Panic. Britain would lose, in WWI, more than twice the number of military personnel it would lose later in WWII—a good reason for panic, though in 1914 no one knew the outcome of the war.

“You never saw anybody in a panic who did not grab for themselves, whether it was sugar or butter or nations.” I smiled at this because I saw myself. I know he’s talking about trying to get as much of the rationed products as possible, but it spoke to me about my comfort-eating. In times of distress, I reach for food—ice cream, whipped cream, anything sweet and creamy—not much different from Britain households grabbing for sugar and butter. It was nice to hear him say I'm not alone.

I’ve never identified these times as ones of panic but the word seems to fit. At what am I panicking? That my world is, in some way, falling apart? Moving out of control? That reminds me of what God showed me the other day about control. Is it so important I hold my world together and stay in control that I panic when I can’t and reach for the closest comfort?

“The clearest evidence that God’s grace is at work in our hearts is that we do not get into panics.” If this is true, and I think it is, then somehow my over-eating or my wrong eating is an indication that in some ways at some times, I shut out God’s grace from my heart. Ouch! I’ve prided myself on the lack of panic in my responses to things but evidently I’ve not seen the whole picture—my wrong eating reveals the truth. The panic is there, regardless of what I call it.

God, how is it that I don’t trust you in all things? If I did, I wouldn’t turn to food for comfort and safety, but to you—in all situations—but I don’t. I tighten my control and feed my fear with food. Can I let go of control? Am I willing to let my world fall apart, sitting amidst the broken pieces with rest and confidence despite the chaos? How do I get there? A counsellor once told me to sit and groan in the pain. I’ve learned to do that in some areas but obviously not in all. Why not? Please show me and help me! I can’t do this without you. So be it.


*”Christian Disciplines, Volume 1” in The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers, page 292.

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