Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is rampant in our society. It is
a motivator for what we do and decisions we make. But is it new?
In the garden of Eden, Satan tempted Eve – If you don’t taste
that fruit, you will miss out from knowing good and evil. The devil caused Eve
to question why a good God would withhold something she perceived as desirable.
What the evil one neglected to mention was all she would forfeit if she ate the
fruit. Was this pursuit worth losing the intimacy of God’s presence and being
cast out from the Garden of Eden? Our pursuits become dangerous if we ignore
something God has told us or if they deter us from seeking Him.
FOMO occurs when we observe someone engaging in an activity
that seems significant or meaningful and pursue this goal believing it will
bring fulfillment. This satisfaction is elusive because no sooner than we
attain one thing, we catch sight of the next thing we are missing. Only in Jesus is found our present and future
fulfillment. We have an eternal inheritance waiting for us. Because of the
glories of heaven, we won’t miss out. Every unfulfilled longing from God will
be fulfilled and the other yearnings will cease to matter.
A close relative of FOMO is comparing. Jesus warned Peter
after his resurrection about this tendency to look at another’s path instead of
our own. When Peter asked what would
happen to John, Jesus replied, “What is that to you? Follow me!” We must take
care not to look at the lives of others and fear missing out. Instead, we
entrust our lives to God and fix our eyes on Jesus so that we may be strengthened
to run the unique race He has set before each one us.
Whoever believe in Him will not be disappointed. Romans 10:11
When considering one of the most difficult things about being an introvert, I came to this conclusion: it is church. Instead of feeling recharged, gathering for Sunday services often depletes me or leaves with me with uncertainties.
Church focuses on being connected and reaching the community. We are urged to reach out to our neighbors and greet those around us. We are encouraged to join small groups. While these things seem to energize people with extroverted tendencies, I thrive on solitude and time alone with the Lord. Sometimes after a church service, where activity and interaction are praised, I am left wondering, “Does God like extroverts more?”
Of course not! In Paul’s words “May it never be!” Our loving Heavenly Father uniquely gifted each of us with diverse personalities. I have never seen one personality praised more than others in the scriptures. The activities advocated by our leaders are often good and necessary things, BUT they aren’t the only things.
Mary pondered and treasured these things in her heart….
Jesus withdrew to a secluded place….
Taking time for silent meditation can prove to be the difference between my good ideas and God’s ordained good. The time I spend alone knits my heart and mind more closely to God’s, so I can maintain His peace in the midst of the chaos around me. The verse which begins this blog did not occur in the midst of a peaceful retreat on a mountain top. The mountains were quaking and falling into the sea, yet God urged the Psalmist (and us), “Cease striving and know I am God.” I feel confident that God can do more through my quiet submission than all of my well-intended activity for His Kingdom. “When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works.” (Hudson Taylor)
“Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.” Those were wise words Hannah spoke at our final Ethiopia team meeting. I thought how true, and prayed for God make me flexible to adjust to His plans. I liked the quote so much I was going to use it for the title of the first blog I wrote after returning from this grand adventure. But that was not God’s plan.
Blessed are the flexible. Instead of writing about Ethiopia, I am sitting in my living room typing this blog learning to be flexible when God cancelled the trip and changed the plan. Why? The country is in a state of upheaval and civil unrest. I know the given reason, but I can’t comprehend God’s purposes behind the changes. I do have faith that God is continuing to fulfill His good and perfect work in the people of Ethiopia whether we are on the ground or not.
God reminded me I am still on a grand adventure because He is with me and His presence is what makes it grand. The Lord reminded me that I can love the people right where I am even as I was planning to love those I have never met far away.
That is not to say I am not really disappointed. But my hope is in Jesus not in a trip no matter how amazing it was going to be. I trust He will do marvelous things in the lives of the people who come to the clinic or children who are enrolled in the school. We will keep praying for the church and clinic staff. And I will wait in the Lord’s presence, willing to remain here or go to the ends of the earth, whichever is most pleasing to my beloved.
Maybe it was like this in every home. Dad had a chair where he would sit to watch TV or read the newspaper. It was a comfy chair positioned just right to see the (can you believe a 25” screen?) television. If dad was home, no one could sit in his chair. I’m not sure we were allowed to sit in it when he wasn’t home, but we did. The best chair Dad had was covered in brown fur like a big brown grizzly bear, and my brother and I would take turns spinning each other around like a merry go round. This fun was perhaps only rivaled by when we would use the coffee table to slide down the stairs.
“Get out of my chair!” dad said gruffly one evening after a long day at work. We quickly abandoned the prime seat recognizing that it was not our place to be seated there. Now as a softened grandpa, my dad urges his grandchildren to crawl up in his chair with him.
Remembering this story from childhood, makes me think of how I act when I think God isn’t around to take care of things. I climb up in his chair to take a spin, deciding I am influential enough to control people or circumstances. For example, if I do or say this, then a certain outcome will result. Putting it down in words, it is easy to see the disillusionment I have in this mentality because there is very little I can control. However, I am honored to know the One who is completely sovereign and completely in control.
Is God prodding you to step down from that self-assumed position of command you took on – to relinquish control as God’s best helper and asking you to trust Him in the details? Is God requesting, very politely of course, to please get out of His chair so he can manage the details of your life, relationships, finances and future from His throne? Or maybe as His dearly beloved child, He wants you to crawl up into his chair with Him, not to control but to be in His presence.