Worry Factory on Holiday

[Rabshakeh] sent messengers again to Hezekiah [king of Judah] saying, “…Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’” …

Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.” (2 Kings 19:9b-10, 14-15 NASB)

On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, I had just found the mailbox empty when the mailman drove up. I plucked out the envelope from our property insurance company, expecting to see a bill (it seemed about time), and instead found a Cancellation Memo. “Your policy has been cancelled due to non-payment.” What??!! Panic!!

A few quick phone calls confirmed that the insurance industry was on a three-day holiday, and we would have to wait until Tuesday to fix this. Property and liability insurance are such significant pieces of running a business that losing it, even for a week, seems catastrophic. After discussing everything in detail with Kent, he acknowledged that we’d simply have to wait. His sweet smile and calm resignation were inspiring, but the worry factory inside me was already cranking up. Plus, I was feeling particularly inept, and not without cause.

Back in May, a sweet-faced man from Puget Sound Energy had knocked at our door, inquiring, “Would you like to pay your bill for $414 today?” How convenient, I thought, I won’t even need a stamp! When I handed a check to the sweet-faced man, I noticed he was wearing a bulky tool-belt equipped with cutting and chopping kinds of tools. A sudden thought made me ask, “Were you going to shut off our power if I didn’t pay?” “Uh, yes.” Whoa, that was a close call. I wondered what else I was missing!

Also in May, Kent’s hospitalization in California generated astronomical medical bills. It’s humbling to realize that your life has been found to be worth sums of money that you could not possibly repay. The protective umbrella of Medicare, which we had only this year come under, paid much of those sums from a pocketbook of national proportions. (As a side note, we’ve come to wonder how many interventions like Kent’s the national pocketbook can handle. Will there be a Medicare for our children’s generation? And why do people only come under this protective umbrella when they achieve 65 years?) Anyway, perhaps I was already a little jumpy, but when reviewing bills, I noticed that we hadn’t paid a Medicare premium in two months. Panic!! Have I torn the safety net by missing premium payments? Frantic hunting for misplaced invoices ensued before I noticed that Medicare bills quarterly. Flood of relief.

So, maybe because of all this background, I couldn’t shut off the worry factory thinking about the property insurance. “I’m going to go pray,” I told Kent. Cancellation memo in hand, I retreated to my in-home “chapel,” the living room, and like Hezekiah, spread the paper out “before the Lord,” smoothing it out on the coffee table as I bowed my head.

I began, like Hezekiah, by confessing that God is Lord of all, even of all the small matters of life, which seem big to me, though small compared to Hezekiah’s worries. Then I prayed the Lord’s prayer, surrendering to God’s prayer agenda and feeling the broad catchment of necessities implied in “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

I meditated on Jesus’ sweet exhortation about His care for little things like flowers and birds (Matthew 6:25-33) and devoted some moments to wordless wishes to know Him and His kingdom. Finally, I retraced the pathway through Philippians 4:4-7, savoring the small but significant phrase that I’ll forever remember Keith Ferrin emphasizing, “The Lord is near,” and moving from rejoicing to thanking to petitioning to waiting.

After that, I could get up, smile at my husband and turn my attention to other things. And the worry factory stayed on holiday the whole weekend!

I do have to admit, though, that on Tuesday morning—with the precision I usually reserve for getting boarding passes on Southwest.com—I called our insurance agent at 8:00am on the dot, and our insurance was reinstated.

Jani can be reached by email here.

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