Well if you came back today after my true confessions of worry and angst, congratulations and God bless you for hanging in there <3
I promised you some practical help and once again I will point you to the sermon series going on at our church https://www.firstdecatur.org/messages/anxious-for-nothing/
But if you don’t have time or inclination to google and listen, I will give you the Reader’s Digest version and my own application.
The series is based on a passage in Philippians 4: 6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Through the teachings by our pastors, we have been reminded that God didn’t just give us a blanket rule…Do not worry.
Our pastors have acknowledged that in the fullness of the teachings of Christ, we have been promised we will have things that will provoke us to anxiety and worry…
In this life you WILL have troubles (John 16:33)
but He also reassured us to take heart because He is bigger than those and He is with us.
And that is how we can obey what is clearly a command and yet without tools, would surely set us up for failure.
Simply not being anxious is about as helpful to me as the mandate –
Do not eat junk food…
or Do not be late for appointments and events.
I am hard wired to love potato chips and all the forces of the universe seem to work against me ever being punctual.
But if you give me tools…and I use them…I stand half a chance.
Tell me to make sure I don’t purchase chips and snacks and remind me to cut up fresh veggies in quantity to have handy when I crave a snack and I just might pull off healthy eating.
Show me how to set alarms on my phone that prompt me to wrap up whatever distraction has pulled me away from getting ready, and I increase my potential to leave with extra time to get where I am going.
And God gives me this tool to turn from the mind-spinning futility of worry.
Laura, when you have an anxious thought crop up, take it and figure out what it is that is causing you to fret…notice when you are running an idea or scenario over and over and adding all the possible outcomes and repercussions.
Identify it and why it is threatening your peace.
And turn it into prayer.
Tell Me about it and then think about what I have said and thank Me for who I am and how I work.
Pastor Brian gave us a chart on the first Sunday of the series and here is my version of that:
Worry : name the worry
Request: Leave your request for that worry with God. He likened it to leaving your car with a trusted mechanic. You don’t hang around and wring your hands while he works on it.
Thankful: Press in with gratitude for what He has done. Use your mental energy to be thankful to Him for ways He has worked in the past and ways He is currently working even if you cannot see them.
True: Praise God for whatever is true, noble, lovely, pure, admirable — meditate on these things. Spin praise instead of anxious thoughts.
As the worry reappears later in the day, remind yourself that you have handed it over to God and praise and thank Him again for what He is able to do.
Tomorrow I want to finish this off with my own affirmation that this is not some kind of spiritual numbing or positive thinking exercise.
The world uses a similar method but the thing that replaces “worry” can take on the form of exercise, meditation to empty the mind, self-medication through addiction, distracting the mind through training it to self-talk positivity … empowerment…avoidance….but all of these are modern day idols that replace the only thing that really transforms our worry into transformation that will make us more and more like the image of Christ.
Avoiding worry is not the issue.
We have legitimate reasons for why we worry.
But when we turn those worries into prayer, God changes situations and He changes us.
He turns the workings of our minds from futility to fruit-bearing.
He takes us from worldly anxiety and transfers us into Kingdom advancing.
How about today you take a piece of paper and write those four headings?
Name your worry – all of it…in detail…what you are really and truly worrying about.
Intentionally take that worry into God’s workshop and set it down on the counter in prayer and walk away.
Start writing down ways you have seen God work in the past, things you know about Him that are true, lovely, pure, good, wholesome.
As the worry starts to reappear around lunchtime or late afternoon, remind yourself that you left it as a request before God and then train your thoughts on good things you know about Him.
It may take several times, but keep doing it.
It’s like celery…it starts to grow on you after a while and you begin to crave that peace more than the control you thought you could hold onto.
Blessings and I will see you tomorrow!