If - When
Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
I have lots of expressions that I use all the time. One of them is well known, but no one is sure who said it first.
It’s not a matter of if, but when.
Basically, it means that something’s coming. There’s no question that it’s coming. You can bet the farm on it coming. The only question is when it’s coming. A similar expression I use says basically the same thing.
It’s coming like a freight train.
Have you ever been near a freight train? The sound goes through you. The ground rumbles. And when the airhorn blows, it shatters your eardrums.
Jesus says that something’s coming. There’s nothing you can do to stop it. He doesn’t say to leave the safety of the sidewalk and step in front of it or to run towards it either.
We don’t have to worry that it’s coming. And we don’t have to worry about what to say. Jesus tells us not to worry ahead of time what to say. We don’t have to be distracted from our relationship with Him. Our relationship with other people. Or to be distracted from what he’s given us to do.
I don’t know about you, but I’m so easily distracted. It isn’t funny. If I was in school today, I’m sure I’d be diagnosed with at least Attention Deficit Disorder. And when you throw in my constant moving, they’d add Hyperactivity to the mix. Then I’d be prescribed the appropriate drugs to calm me down, allowing me to focus.
No matter how you feel or think about giving medication for ADHD, Jesus is not talking about this kind of distraction. He’s talking about our not being able to trust God on a consistent basis. He’s talking about our not focusing or depending on him in times of trial or trouble.
When we’re distracted, when we worry, we run around from one thing to another. We can’t stay on task with God. We’re distracted from him to other things. We move off of depending on him to save us and solve our problems.
As we worry, we’re pulled from one thing to another. We are pulled apart. Broken into pieces. Reducing our strength and determination. When we worry, we’re distracted from who God is. We start thrashing around, trying to solve the problem. Trying desperately to save ourselves.
Being worried, anxious, or whatever other word you want to use, isn’t something that comes and goes. It comes and comes to stay. It hangs around and we constantly keep coming back to it. We stay on it. Keeping our foot on the worry accelerator, thinking it will get us out of trouble.
But in the end, worry is worse than doing nothing. Worry is really doing something. And it’s not at all good or positive. To be perfectly blunt about it, worry is where we think that we can out think, out maneuver, overpower God and his ability to help us.
To be certain, Jesus was in great agony in the garden on the night he was betrayed. But he did what we need to do, take the situation to God. Let him deal with it. And leave the results with him. We need to pray the kind of prayer that Jesus prayed – fervently.
When we pray fervently, we hold nothing back. We reach out with everything we have. With all our fear. With all our doubts. We stretch ourselves out spiritually, emotionally, and even physically. We lay it all down before God.
But what kind of God do we think we’re laying it down in front of? Is he looking for any excuse to wrap us on the knuckles? To catch us with our hand in the spiritual cookie jar just so he can come down on us hard, with a vengeance?
Or is God someone who deeply loves and cares for us? Someone who made us and wants nothing but the best for us? Someone who would die for us?
That’s Jesus’ kind of Heavenly Father. Is that your kind of Heavenly Father? Someone whose arms are always open. Always ready and willing to receive you? Or someone with a clenched fist, ready to smack you around?
Now, we deserve punishment, and God would be right to punish, unless he had taken the punishment on himself. And since he took our punishment on himself, he’s now ready and willing to greet us with lovingkindness.
That’s the God of the Bible. The beginning and the end. The if and the when of forgiveness. The God of Jesus, and Jesus as God.