"'Well done,' said Aslan in a voice that made the earth shake. Then Digory (the son of Adam) knew that all the Narnians had heard those words and that the story of them would be handed down from father to son in that new world for hundreds of years and perhaps forever. But he was in no danger of feeling conceited for he didn't think about it at all now that he was face to face with Aslan. This time he found that he could look staright into the Lion's eyes. He had forgotten his troubles and was absolutely content."
(C.S. Lewis, in The Magician's Nephew)
There is a particular place on the hardwood floor in front of our refrigerator that creaks when you stand on it, creaks greatly. It's annoying. I know because one day shortly after its inception or, at least after I noticed it, I stood on it rocking back and forth - creak, creak, creak- transfixed, somehow, until my wife said "would you mind stopping that?" I stopped. I guess it annoyed her too.
Just for a moment, a fleeting moment, the thought occurred that maybe that creak was only the beginning of the end. The floor would eventually crack and collapse, carrying half the kitchen down with it into the abyss, my savings account following. But that's silly, I realize.
Or is it? It's that same feeling you get when you are driving down the road and just for a moment you wonder if the wheels might come off the car, or the axle break. Or that fleeting thought that a parking deck might collapse over your head. An elevator cable break. The Government be unable to pay its debts. The Walking Dead be cancelled. (I'm not really worried about that last one, but someone is.)
(You do get that feeling also, don't you? Don’t you?)
I realize this is how neuroses form. That if you dwell on such thoughts, you begin to be obsess and engage in irrational behavior about which you cannot be dissuaded. You begin avoiding elevators, parking decks, or even driving. Or going to the fridge. Which might not be a bad thing.
Now, grant you, neurotic is not pyschotic, at least. But then, it might lead to that, couldn't it? Couldn’t it?
I look around in my home office where I am writing this bit of paranoia, and I see that there are probably 200 books and as many CDs, in heavy bookcases, as well as my rather weighty desk, and not to mention my not slight mass, and a file cabinet, and a lamp, and. . . and. . . and while I know that contractors know something about building houses, I think about all that pressing down on a few perhaps splintered two by fours of wood, and the third floor and roof pressing down on that, and I wonder if it's possible that it might. . . well. . . break.
Sometimes, albeit rarely, these kinds of things are suggested to my pliable mind, and if any take root, anxiety blooms. And yet the Apostle Paul says “Have no anxiety about anything,” a command that seems nigh impossible to obey, if indeed it is a command. As Frederick Buechner says about Paul’s admonition, “In one sense it is like telling a woman with a bad head cold not to sniffle and sneeze so much or a lame man to stop dragging his feet. Or maybe it is more like telling a wino to lay off the booze or a compulsive gambler to stay away from the track.” We humans seem bent to it, predisposed to worry. Sick, lame winos, we are.
And yet what Paul tells us to do is to pray, in everything God bless him, and that as consequence, our hearts and even our minds will be kept in Christ Jesus. He doesn’t say the house won’t collapse or the economy go south, but he says Christ promises to keep us in a way that passes understanding, in a way that we can’t be gotten at no matter what.
Which is another way of saying that I’m really in trouble, or will be regularly, but He will be with me and guard both heart and mind. And in this Paul, imprisoned while writing such words, might have even smiled at the irony of his imprisonment: behind bars, guarded, unable to leave, and yet in Jesus, better guarded, free to stay in Him no matter what and even walk out of prison should God will it. Or not.
Next time the floor creaks, and the Enemy makes a suggestion, I’ll pray. I might also smile at the absurdity of the idea that he can get at me, guarded as I am in Jesus. I'll remember I am kept in Him quite apart from what I can do with my thoughts. Besides, eventually He'll fix the floor and everything else and say to me, "Well done," and a quivering I will go, shaken but loved.