Today I woke up very early in the still-dark morning and had one of those episodes of free floating anxiety. That's what my succinct college roommate used to describe the feeling she used to get from time to time.
My mind ran over all of the faults and inadequacies and worries I could muster, real and present and some merely possible, some of the old ones and some new ones -- nothing farfetched, all current or certainly quite possible. I struggled to go back to sleep, but of course that was useless. So I heaved out of bed and decided to spend some time in prayer and the Bible.
This seems like so much chutzpah -- presenting my little, nagging problems to God who has set the blue and swirled world turning, whose eye is on wars and famine and presidents and poverty. And always there is His own great glory, His serene completeness and goodness, ever full and satisfied and never lacking.
But as they say, prayer changes me. His eye is on the little sparrow. If so, then His eye is on the little middle class American housewife and her nest. Now that is something to marvel at.
I must have Lists, on white index cards, or I am lost in the middle of the day looking around like a tourist in a country trying to speak the language with the formal "you" form. (Now what do I do? "Pardonez moi, ou est la train station?") But after a time of detailed prayer, I found my heart much more cool and objective and focused for this task.
The issues and tasks and soulish needs which were monstrous mind-gobbling anxieties became tame, clear and focused when anxiety had been removed.
If God can part the Red Sea, shut the mouths of lions, and convert Saul the Persecuter into Paul the Saint, well then, I expect He can handle a few things here at Anne's house. He can be trusted with the completion of what is important. He can be trusted with the little souls that live here
I finished up and walked outside into the dawn, and saw the roses blooming in my garden. I am a gardening novice, full of half-baked knowledge. I have ingested snatches of offhand information from The Secret Garden ("Dickon, the little plants needed to breathe!") and other fiction stories I have read, and from wandering the Lowe's plant aisle. So I have not held out much hope for this big garden. These plants are wonderful and some seem exotic and very prone to mysterious diseases or maybe they have mold or bugs or grubs or maybe I am watering them too much or maybe too little.
Especially the roses. There are all kinds, and I don't know the names. So I have fumbled and pruned and fed these roses for the past year. At the store I found a jug of something that kills bugs and molds and feeds the plant all in one fell swoop. I squatted down and cocked my head and noticed the undersides of the leaves and pricked my hands and arms, and staked them in the ground for stability.
Now, wondrously, this week the bushes are suddenly heavy with the first crop of pink and red splendor poking out of the gray and green, the dappled beauty, as Gerard Manley Hopkins says, of nature. Not flawless, but gorgeous. A tiny picture of the gentle grace of God... His wink, His condescension, if you will, touching the faults and limitations of the gardener herself and producing something good in the garden in spite of her.
He took care of His roses.
Here are some verses I looked at this morning (I am reading from Paul's letter to the Philippians these days so most will be from that book). All emphases are mine.
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" Philippians 1:6
"...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" Phil. 2:13 (my emphasis)
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" Phil. 4:6-7
"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights of the world, holding fast to the word of life" Phil 2:14-16
"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, He will never leave you or forsake you" Deuteronomy 31:6