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Life in Community

Waiting for the Moon to Rise

May 16, 2017 by

Following Jesus is a joyful vocation. He already fought and won the greatest battle of all time at Golgotha, and we are included in that victory, and we have his assurance that he will be with us each hour. So why are so many devout Christians afflicted with fear and anxiety? How is it possible that worry so often robs us of the joy Christ gladly gives?

Worries come in every shade: practical cares, inner anxieties, concerns for others, apprehensions about the future, even completely irrational fears that cannot be given human words to name. They are countless. I do not know why a Christian (or anyone else) is plagued by worries – but I do know the things that can help: pray more, read the Bible, confess your sins, take times of quiet and retreat, do something for someone else. In short, believe more than you do.

This conventional wisdom is time-tested, trustworthy, and true. Sometimes, however, in spite of everything, the outlook is bleak, and we need someone to throw us a life line, as the old hymn goes.

Flashback to one especially exhausting teenaged battle with doubt and uncertainty. I desperately needed someone to speak with, and found a listening ear with Christoph and Verena Arnold, who invited me to take a walk with them. (When Christoph recently passed away, I lost not only a pastor but a friend: they guided and encouraged me through that bumpy teenage season, and later they counselled me in the lead-up to my wedding.)

The gravel crunched under foot, and I ended my request for help by saying, “I just don’t know what to do.” Only the sound of our loud footsteps filled the air as we walked on, the warm evening turning to summer darkness. My eyes dropped, searching for the path I could no longer see.

“You need to look at the moon more often.” We had reached our destination; the moon blazed white above us between the trees. Just those nine words, and we parted company.

The author and one of her sons watching the moon rise

Ten years later my husband and I walked with them in the bright Australian sun, looking for affirmation or encouragement on some aspect of parenting. We hardly spoke; he already anticipated our needs: “You need to turn your worries into an asset.” The sun, the warmth, and the seemingly absurd response prompted a burst of laughter from everyone. How can opposites exchange places? How can curse become cure? Yet I also knew that Christoph had a keen business mind, and could interpret a balance sheet better than most. So I remembered that line, too, as we finished our walk.

Words of wisdom can be stored; the loss of a friend who listens is not easily replaced. But still, over the years, I’ve carried these words in my heart. Perhaps, if you’re worried about something, they’ll light your path a little, too.

Look at the moon more often: No doubt you already see the first, obvious meaning. Each of us needs to look away from ourselves. Our problems, cares, and woes are always dwarfed by the greatness of God and his kingdom. But there is a second, deeper meaning. The moon is beautiful, yet it glows and shines in the dark night only because it reflects the light of the sun. Without the sun, the moon has no vitality or life. We are the same. Peace of heart is both received and reflected as grace from God, our divine sun.

Turn your worries into an asset: Anyone with a background in business knows that liabilities reduce the value of assets. Phrases such as reality check, the whole picture, net worth, and bottom line are favourites for realists. We too, as Christian realists, need the whole truth. We can either push our worry and anxiety down, hidden out of sight, or we can take it above board. This advice reminds us that worry can be an overdraft facility, right up there with our most current reserves. It is no shame, rather an opportunity. God surely made use of flawed people throughout history. After all, “power is made perfect in weakness.” A thorn in the flesh will certainly keep us awake and protect us from apathy and indifference, and can teach us empathy and compassion. It will remind us that we need God and our fellow believers. And for the rest, God’s grace is sufficient.

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About the author

Dori Moody holding a cat

Dori Moody

Dori Moody lives at the Danthonia Bruderhof in Australia. She and her husband Henry nurture four children, one cat, and...

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