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31st October: What if...?

When he noticed the strong wind he was afraid and started to sink. Matthew 14:30 (GNB)

Some doubts are healthy. They show that we recognise our own fallibility and inexperience. As housejobs progress the doubts do not alter in frequency, merely in nature. I no longer worry about how to arrange a special investigation, or whether I shall sleep through my bleep! The doubts which assail me now when I am tired, perhaps after a weekend on call, are far from healthy; rather they disturb my peace of mind and wear down my defences against self-pity. If I succumb to these doubts, they only breed more.

There are the `what its...?' that are always related to my career or capabilities: what if I don't get that rotation? what it I fail this exam? what if I have to go on moving every six months or so? what if I never get married?

Since I have no way of knowing or influencing what the future holds, such worries and doubts are fruitless. At the very least I could adopt a fatalistic point of view. But the Christian serves a Master who is deeply interested in his people, and who has the power to guide and control the lives of men.

Peter did not falter when his thoughts were taken up with Jesus and with the task in hand. But when he noticed the strong wind, his trust in Jesus' ability to sustain what he had begun wavered, and Peter began to sink. Unless worries, the `what ifs' of life, have this characteristic, they assail me when I stop concentrating on the job in hand, my current post for which I have been called and equipped, and start to look around.

Recognising a `what if?' is halfway to dealing with it, and saves expending energy on it. I am learning when to expect them and so am beginning to dismiss them. Anyway, I can seldom remember in the morning what I spent wakeful hours worrying about the previous night. Stanley Browns's words are a help: `Never forget, you are not along in deciding your future' (Mr Leprosy, P Thompson).

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

Kate B Wilkinson

Further reading: Mt 14:22-33.


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