Today the Lord has given me a living illustration of how vital it is to follow His command not to be afraid.
My daughter and I made an hour's drive to the city this morning, returning home early this evening. To those accustomed to traffic, this mid-western city is not difficult to navigate. Most times even I, the quintessential country bumpkin, have no trouble making my way around this nearly-but-not-quite-urban area. But today we traveled by the turnpike, and there was roadwork. My daughter is six months pregnant, and I felt protective of her and even more unsure of my driving skills than usual. The maneuvers of weaving around orange pylons in order to stay in the correct lane of traffic raised my anxiety level.
By the time we reached the city my stomach was knotted with anxiety from several sources. En route I had remembered that my respite caregiver for Mom had told me she wouldn't be coming today. This would leave Mom alone for a longer time than usual during the afternoon and early evening. My son has suffered a heart hurt as a relationship he's been in for over a year is coming to an end, and I am worried about him. And my daughter's pregnancy has caused her to seem to me to be both more precious and more fragile than ever before in her life, except perhaps when she was a newborn herself.
As we exited the highway I saw a woman sitting at the side of the road. With one hand she was holding an illegible cardboard sign in front of her face and the other hand repeatedly raked through her shiny brown hair. I was impressed by how clean her hair looked, and how it glinted in the sunlight. As I looked at her she raised her eyes to mine and they were full of misery. There was an instant when I could have grabbed a $20 dollar bill from my purse and rushed to her side--the traffic had momentarily cleared and I was at a red light. I let the moment go by, and I drove away. And then, Father forgive me, I forgot about her as we shopped for baby supplies and clothes. It wasn't until I was safely back at home that I remembered those eyes, and when the memory returned I recognized that I had left someone I love at the side of the road, because at this moment as I think of that poor woman's eyes, I see the eyes of Christ.
Jesus commands us to care for those He loves, and today I let Him down. I have asked for and received His forgiveness; but the remorse I feel continues to break my heart tonight. As I prayed not to sin in this way again I asked the Lord what had caused me to be oblivious to that woman's suffering to the degree that I was able to so completely dismiss her from my mind that I didn't even pray for her. I recognized that fear was the culprit. I was so tense with anxiety (which is just another word for fear) that I couldn't see that woman clearly. It wasn't until I felt safe at home that I remembered the agony in her eyes and knew that had I prayed, that the Lord would have shown me a way to reach out to her.
Scripture repeatedly instructs us to refrain from fear; the King James Version of the Bible uses the phrase, "fear not," 62 times. Today I learned that a fearful heart can cause a blindness to the suffering of others that breaks the Lord's heart.
Scripture: For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear, I will help you." Isaiah 41:13 NIV