Who Cares About Poison Ivy? Rivers of Faith, Part 19: : Warring Worriers


Mirador Trail on Grosse-ile, QuebecVista from the Mirador Trail on Grosse-ile, Quebec

We were walking the trail in Grosse-ile, Quebec. It was hot, and since this was a circular trail, my wife had left her heavy backpack near a tree at the entrance. Surrounded by the trees and shrubs characteristic of the region, we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves when we were joined by a fast-moving park ranger. It was soon time for our boat to leave Grosse-Óle, and she was concerned we would be left behind. Seeing that we were already nearly half-way around the trail and that we were moving quickly enough to not miss our boat, she fell into step with us and became our personal guide.

At one point in time she warned us about the dangers of poison ivy, locally known as l'herbe de puce. Now my wife isn't bothered by poison ivy. As a child, she had the opportunity to drink the fresh milk of goats who had been fed with poison oak, and ever since, she appears to have developed some type of an immunity to both pesty plants. She also knows how to identify them, a skill which is useful in helping me to stay away from the menace as well!

So once back at the trail head, she didn't hesitate to reach behind the tree, surrounded by weeds, to get her backpack.

"Be careful!" Called out the friendly ranger. "There might be poison ivy in there!"

As my wife emerged from the brush, the ranger's eyes fell on her left shin, which was red and somewhat swollen. Her face turned ashen as she pointed to the injury and muttered some incomprehensible words. She was certain that her words of warning had gone unheeded, and that my wife had fallen prey to the fowl plant.

My wife smiled, trying vainly to reassure our personal guide that the plant in question was not to blame. What the ranger didn't know was that while climbing Mont Erable the day before, she had slipped and scraped her shin.

Despite the explanation, the ranger's fears didn't calm. She was absolutely certain my wife had gotten into Poison Ivy, despite her warning.

Are we any better? Don't we all worry over things that turn out, in the long run, to really be nothing? The moment they show up, these worries seem to glue themselves into our brains as a constant reminder of their troubling existence, but in all reality, they serve no useful function whatsoever. Unless that is, we enjoy being kept up all night!

Jesus assures us: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" (Matt 6:25 NIV) In other words Jesus is making us aware that life is more important than all of our worries put together. Can we call it real living if we constantly worry or are they rather life-snatchers devoiding us from any meaningful existence? "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matt 6:27 NIV)

"Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matt 6:26 NIV)

"If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matt 6:30 NIV)

If God willingly died on a cross for us, can't we truly trust Him? Can't we relinquish control of these little nuisances that we consider more important than life itself?

But no, just like the friendly park ranger wouldn't give up her worry that my wife had gotten into Poison Ivy, we choose to cling to our worries, as if giving them over to God will mean our death sentence. But what do we really get in return? Other than insomnia, headaches and anxiety, that is?

Worry is a question of lack of faith! When we worry, we give more credence to our circumstances than to our God. We let the adversities of life tune out the voice of God who promised us: "'Because he loves me,' says the Lord, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.' (Ps 91:14 NIV) The question is, do we truly love God from the bottom of our heart? Do we truly believe in His unfailing love for us?

Reality check: "Your heavenly Father knows that you need them." (Matt 6:32 NIV)

Do we believe that?

Jesus urges us: "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matt 6:33 NIV)

When we hunger for God, something miraculous happens. We are filled with love ("Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7-8 NIV)). When we put our trust in Him, we are filled with inner peace, even in the midst adversity (I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 NIV)).

Another reality check: "Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt 6:34 NIV)

We don't need to create more trouble for ourselves by worrying. We can't experience God fully if we put more credence in our own trials than in God's promises. We can't expect the miraculous without complete trust in the One who is the Miracle worker!

So often we worry about what to say to someone. Someone passes away, for example. What are we supposed to say to the grieving family? Or someone's spouse has left. What do we say to the one left behind?

We truly worry too much! Remember Jesus' promise? "But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matt 10:19-20 NIV)

God will fill us with His presence. He will guide us in all things, even in knowing what to say to people! All we have to do is rely on Him! After all, isn't He the risen One? Isn't He the one who has overcome the impossible (See Luke 18:27)?

"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." (Isa 58:11 NIV)

We either trust in the One who has never disappointed us, or we rely on our own worries. Believe me, the last option will never give us any satisfaction!

The poison ivies of life will not last. God always has the last word!

Rob Chaffart

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