Worst

Do you know how to fend off a shark? Survive a poisonous snake attack? Land a plane? Survive if your parachute fails to open?

Me neither. But thank goodness I have “The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook”.

Worst Case Scenario

I think it was given to me as a gag gift a few years ago. But part of me wants to make sure I read it just in case a worst case scenario really does happen. I wouldn’t want to face the poisonous snake knowing that if I had just read the book I would have known what to do.

I thought about the book after noticing something I had written in the margin of my Bible. I was reading the story of Jairus in Mark 5, and how he came to Jesus asking Him to heal his sick daughter. But Jesus got delayed by the woman who touched His hem and by the time He was done dealing with that, someone came to let Jairus know it was too late. His daughter had died.

Next to the story I had written, “When the worst thing happens”.

And that’s the point of the story. What to do when the worst thing happens. When Jesus heard that the girl was dead, He turned to Jairus and said, “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.”

Jairus didn’t know what would happen next. He only knew the worst thing had already happened. Jesus knew it too. But Jesus also knew the rest of the story. And that’s why He could look into the eyes of this desperate and grieving father and say, “Don’t be afraid. Just believe”.

Is that our response when the worst thing happens? Do we turn our fear and desperation over to God and believe that He has it all under control? Sometimes the worst thing does happen, sometimes we think that it might happen. But either way, our response needs to be to turn to the all-knowing, all-wise and all-loving God, and believe that He knows what He’s doing.

Jesus did heal Jairus’ daughter. But even if He had chosen to work in another way, it doesn’t change what He said we should do when things fall apart.

My Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook is entertaining, and quite possibly useful should I ever encounter the highly unlikely perils it describes. But more importantly, I have another survival handbook. The best one. The one with the very simple, yet most powerful instruction of all when the worst case scenario happens, or we worry that it will.

“Do not be afraid. Just believe.”

As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” Mark 5:36

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. Romans 4:20-21

For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ Isaiah 41:13

Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Psalm 46:2

Bread

“Bread – What a Scandinavian Bakery taught me about waiting on God”.

Catchy title, huh?  Should it be my next book?  Probably not.  But there really is a story there.

A Christmas Eve trip to the Viking Bakery in Denville, New Jersey has become a family holiday tradition.  We pre-order our loaves of limpa (Swedish rye bread) and cardamom coffee cake rings a day or two before.  Then on Christmas Eve morning we make the 10 mile drive to Denville, wait in the line stretching to the door and receive our bundles of fresh Scandinavian goodness.

At least that’s the way it’s supposed to happen.

We did make the 10 mile drive.  We did stand in the line that stretched to the front door.  But we didn’t get our bread.  A very apologetic young girl behind the counter told us that our order wasn’t ready and could we come back in two hours?

Well now, that certainly wasn’t our plan.  As it is in most homes, Christmas Eve is a busy day.  We had other things planned, other things to accomplish – things that weren’t in that town, 10 miles from home.  But in the Christmas spirit of things (and because she looked so worried that we might not respond graciously), we said of course, we can come back.

And two hours later, she handed me bread that was so warm she couldn’t even seal the bags, and cardamom rings that made the car smell like the bakery was coming home with us.

Later, we realized a little something about waiting.  If we had demanded that she give us our bread two hours earlier, she might well have had to hand us a wet, sticky ball of dough.  Nothing like the fragrant bread we had longed for, certainly nothing like what we received later, so full of deliciousness.

Aren’t we like that with God sometimes?  We expect a certain thing to happen in a certain way and in a certain time.  And God asks us to wait.  Usually we don’t even know why.  But He asks.  And we have the choice to respond with indignation and demands for faster service, or to respond with gracious acceptance of the delay, knowing that the waiting will bring something better.  If God allows what we demand, it might end up being like the wet, sticky ball of dough – completely disappointing and useless.

I was glad we waited for the bread.  Totally worth it.  And I’m glad the waiting reminded us of life, and of waiting on God for things we think we deserve right now.  I don’t want God to give me things outside of His timing because I demand it.

I might not always understand the delay, but waiting will be worth it.  Totally worth it.

Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you;  Isaiah 30:18

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.  Isaiah 55:8

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:4
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