“Growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter)
Psalm 91: 1-6
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and My God, in Him I will trust. Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
Let go of panic.
Pick up peace and joy instead.
Each is a decision as well as a practice with decidedly different outcomes.
Are you a joy filled Christian with energy in your step or are you gloomy and downtrodden, weary from carrying a weight of fretfulness and worry?
I was well practiced in the art of worrying when my three kids were young. At times I was consumed by worries over them, misguided in my thinking that this fretting was in some way necessary. I included worry in the list of “mom duties.” Yet all this apprehension ever really accomplished was to reduce my energy and distract me from prayer. Infant worries grew into toddler worries which evolved into school age worries and then the stressful teen worries which transferred to college worries. Then one day as I began to ponder the sovereignty of God- the attribute by which He governs His entire creation – I also began to realize the absolute silliness in worry, as well as the pride in thinking that my fretting was in any way necessary.
Since then I have chosen to leave the path of anxiety and place my feet instead “on the rock that is higher than I”. I am discovering rest and peace, even when this rock finds itself in the midst of chaos. Resting and growing in the knowledge of Christ calms my heart and strengthens my spirit each time I remind myself of the unchanging nature of and majesty of God.
When we look back on our lives, we can view it with joy or regret.
When we face the present circumstances, we must choose how we will handle what is happening.
We worry and fret however over what might happen in the future.
When I look back, I realize that very, very, very little of what I worried about actually really happened. Worry was a big waste of time and a big joy robber!
If we are filled with the fullness of God, we will behave differently from the world around us. This light within us must shine for others to see in order to show the hope that can be found in Christ. Our kids earnestly need to see faith modeled as really real in our lives- they need to see us behave differently than those outside the church. They need to see in us a strong faith that abolishes anxiety and not an anxious heart that shoves aside faith each time a problem is encountered.
Did you know that God takes pleasure in the happiness of His people? AND He attaches provision to each and every problem we encounter! We are supposed to sound grateful, be full of joy and walk in the fullness God intended us to walk in. We cannot – and must not – make praise captive to our own feelings and emotions. Instead we can give our inner selves to God in praise regardless of what is going on around us.
Joy filled Christian parents have more time and energy to enjoy their children and FUN with them. We can be all too serious about all the wrong things and give our kids the idea that being a Christian negates joy.
The outcome of an anxious response to life is weariness. The outcome of anxious and weary parents are likely to be anxious and weary children.
But trusting in the nature of God results in peace, joy and energy to love! Parents who discover how to surrender their children wholly to Christ and let go of their worrying find themselves on an amazingly rewarding- although still challenging – journey with the joy of the Lord as their strength.
The recipe for anxiety and panic:
- Grumble and complain about others and about your circumstances.
- Listen to your own voice and rely on your own understanding. Proverbs 3: 5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
- Be double-minded by doubting that God will guide you. James 1: 5-8. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of god, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
- Put your faith in what God will do rather than in who He is. His nature never changes yet He is unpredictable in what He does. Hebrews 13:8. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
- Make understanding SELF the focal point of your faith over seeking to know and understand God.
- Try to manage and control your circumstances in your own strength. “As long as we are in the hands of chance; or look for hope in the law of averages, as long as we trust for survival to our ability to outthink the enemy we have good reason to fear.” (A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy)
The secret to peace and joy:
- “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God!” Within His gates and inside His courts, the enemy cannot find you. Resting there is your most powerful weapon. Psalm 100: 4-5: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name, for the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”
- “Be still and know that I am God! “ Turn off the noise within your head- that rapid fire repetitive flow of thoughts and worries which keeps you leaning on your own understanding. Don’t reduce your prayer to merely a practice of sending up this empty stream of one way conversation that goes on within you. “Because we have not stilled ourselves, we pray in our own strength, coming to God’s door weighted down by the panic of the circumstances facing us.” (Graham Cooke) Consider Psalm 46 which starts with an earthquake and ends with the encouragement to BE STILL.
- Believe that God will show you what to do when you need to know. Stop trying to predict an unpredictable God who desires that you stop worrying and trust Him instead. Do you find yourself going through life, praying a little, planning some, manipulating circumstances, while hoping for the best? Yet secretly you are afraid that you will miss the mark? Make God your target and he will draw you straight to the mark each time!! Isaiah 42: 16: “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them and not forsake them”
- Seek to comprehend the unchanging nature of God – that He is good and He desires good things for you. God never differs from Himself. He will not change. Our hearts may erratically jump all over the place but we can always ground ourselves in the goodness of God which disposes Him to be kind and compassionate toward us. God hears our prayers because He is good and not because we are good and faith comes by way of confidence in the goodness of God and not in our own goodness.
- Hold to a lofty view of the sovereign God. Proverbs 14: 26-28: “In the fear of the Lord there is a strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life to turn one away from the snares of life.”
- Grasp the LOVE of God. “God’s love disposes Him to desire our everlasting welfare and His sovereignty enables Him to secure it” (A.W. Tozer) We can thank God in every situation because every problem we encounter comes with His provision attached to it. Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love god, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”