While representing a young woman who had been arrested both for drug use and for prostitution, this attorney had begun an inappropriate relationship with the woman. Unbeknownst to him, the woman was part of a scheme against the young lawyer, and she had taped their encounters on several occasions. When she revealed the tapes to the young lawyer and divulged the identities of the men who had set her up in the scheme, he knew that he was being targeted for his work on another case, a case in which these other men had a direct connection. They had found an easy prey.
The young lawyer had for many years been headed down a difficult and dangerous path. He and his wife had done well for themselves, and he had made more money in the last five years than he had thought possible. But he also made enemies—people who had long memories and also the means to take advantage of his transgressions. Their answer was a sting operation that would, one way or another, silence the young attorney forever.
I prayed with the young lawyer, who had family friends who had been attending our church for only a short time. His family attended a large church in their own town and were prominent members of the community. He didn't feel as though he could go to his own pastor, and so, after confiding in one of his friends, the friend suggested that he visit me. We had a long and sad conversation. He knew that his life was about to change and that he had little recourse other than to face the circumstances. But for some reason, as I looked into his eyes, I feared he would choose another road.
Tragically, several days after our visit, the young lawyer's body was found in a dense forest just outside of town. He had taken his own life. In the note that he had left, he talked about the shame he had brought to his family and the pain he would bring to his wife. (His wife had found out about his affair earlier that day, through a letter and videotape.) The young lawyer, whose priorities had spiraled so far out of control, saw only one way out. This worry, in the end, would win.
Friends, God says the worries are not supposed to win, though for so many of us in so many situations, they do.
That is the nature of this worry in the chronic life—a list of misguided priorities that are not easily reframed. But this is not normal. God has something better in store.
Worry Number Four: The Creation of Idols/Man-made Gods
There is a wonderful scene about the power of Creation in the book and movie Angels and Demons. [SPOILER ALERT: If you don't want to know what happens in the movie, you may want to skip ahead two paragraphs.] In this scene, the protagonist, Robert Langdon, confronts the "God particle." It is a scientific experiment that "re-creates" the conditions at the very beginning of existence. Of course, as the action ensues to control the power of this experiment, everyone realizes that some things, no matter how much knowledge we have or how much we think we understand, are beyond our grasp. The climax of the scene is when the camerlengo, the assistant to the pope, is discovered as the mastermind behind a plot that murdered one pope and threatens the ability of the cardinals to select a second. His fear, as we later discover, is that science will outpace our understanding of God and, worse, replace our need for God.