Living with a mild case of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) has been something I’ve joked about for years. No doctor has ever really diagnosed me officially, but I’m quite confident that it would be an easy call for one of them if I presented myself as a voluntary lab rat. Some of us just don’t settle down all that well as we crave order, clear parameters, uninhibited lines which move from point A to point B and, above all things , structure, structure, structure. Because of this I have a phobia of showing up late for anything. Mark my words: for those who carry within us the virus of OCD, arriving on time is an unspeakable crime. Fifteen minutes early is borderline acceptable. Twenty to twenty-five minutes ahead of schedule lets the heart rest, and a cool calm returns to the universe for us. The motto for us when it comes to the ticking clock is: Better Never Than Late. We are chief among those who really need to learn what Jesus taught when He spoke the following words:
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
Why do so many in the Body of Christ struggle with inner rest? I’ve come to conclude that this is something that God is regularly addressing in my own life. The need for and pursuit of order, structure and regimen easily becomes idolatrous for some, and we begin to crave those things for our ongoing sense of well-being. It boils down to the conclusion that we want to control what is happening to us and this collides with our call to live by humble faith. Jesus Christ promises in John 14:27 above to leave His followers with an other-worldly peace that forbids the heart to be troubled and the mind to fear. That’s right, this is something Jesus offers and that we can procure. He clearly wants us to find our full sense of inner tranquility rooted in Him and nothing else. What is so potentially damaging is that those who are disciplined, orderly, punctual and have a clear-cut plan at all times are often applauded and seen to be some of the most dedicated saints. Those who are laid-back, approaching the day with a stretch and a easy-going yawn instead of a twenty page game-plan are often perceived as undedicated or flippant. I’m wondering if we might often have this backwards at times. I’m actively seeking to learn from my chill friends because they often seem to enjoy this journey of life a little more than we who sleep with a locked jaw and clenched fist.
If Jesus Christ, the risen Son of God, were to walk beside you each day this week as your Shepherd, Master and Friend do you think you would approach your days differently? Would there be any stress? Would you worry over a thing? Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or an African missionary or a paralegal or retired senior citizen – would it be possible to obsess and live in compulsive reaction if God the Son was standing by your very side everywhere you went? I’m not sure I would watch the clock so much. The clutter drawer in my kitchen wouldn’t be calling my name for it’s bi-monthly cleaning. I wouldn’t be arranging my water bottles in my mini-fridge at the office or checking all the pictures on the walls to make sure they aren’t tilted. I bet I wouldn’t lay out all my clothes at the foot of the bed the night before I am supposed to put them on. If the Lord slept in my guest bedroom I can guarantee you I would be sleeping more soundly in my own bed because He would be so near, so accessible and so…real. Yes, it’s undeniable, some of us are slaves to outward order, and God will be working to wean us so that we might learn to find our true peace in His promises and presence.
Keep your chaos in perspective today; you cannot fully control all that is on the outside of you, but God empowers each of us to live with hearts full of calm assurance. We don’t need perfect timing, full understanding, iron-clad guarantees or precise control in order to experience perfect rest in our souls – you and I can loosen our grip and still know that we are being tightly held. Your plan is subordinate to His plan and, when things don’t fit into your prefabricated mold, it is quite okay because His plan is bigger, better, stronger, wiser and immune from failing. He knows what He is doing and He is in absolute, wise, loving control. He may very well let some of us learn that lesson through the painful process of removing our own sense of control. Remember this: He’s got you. He really does. His grace not only anticipates your needs but fully supplies them as they manifest themselves. My new favorite quote is from Tim Keller who wrote,
“God always gives us the things we would have asked for if we knew what He knows.”
I may run late today…but I won’t run amok. My Shepherd is near and He gives His peace to anyone willing to receive it. That’s really good news for hearts that are trained to live frantically. We have found our Rest.