Anxious in Everything

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything
with prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving,
let your requests be known to God.

If you’ve been around Christianity for any length of time, you’ve heard this verse handed out when you say you are worried about something. It’s often given as a platitude by a well-meaning pastor or friend to easily point you to peace of mind. But I have to be honest with you that I haven’t really taken to that verse.

You see I’m quite the anxious person. I worry inwardly alot and have for years. About some of the most ridiculous things, about people, situations, words, you name it. I have worried about it. Let me be even more real with you all, that kind of worry all the time will eat you up. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Recently I grabbed a copy of Max Lucado’s new book Anxious for Nothing on a whim. I have only read one other book from Lucado, and it’s a small Christmas book I received for free once. As I tiptoed into the book with a skeptic’s eye on the very verse I have grown to really be irritated with, I was surprised to find that I had been looking at it with the wrong heart and the wrong perspective.

In my anxiousness I had chosen to identify with the chaos of the world instead of the sovereignty of God. I was running to tension, control and calamity instead of peace, security, and surety in Him.

As much as I didn’t this to be a book review, I have to contend that Max Lucado’s book on the verse against anxiety is one that caused me to re-examine the whole Scripture and context of Paul’s words to the Philippians. Lucado walks through the various areas Paul points out in the key verse but also lays the ground work around it, and our hearts that are so easily prone to anxiety-whether by our own doing or undoing. He also provides practical avenues of applying the words of Paul to our lives day in and day out.

Overall it caused me solely to realize that the chaos of anxiety is born out of a fallen world, and born within a fallen person…me. But I get to choose whether I abide in that chaos or the calm of the sovereign Lord each and every day. Not to be Pollyanna-ish about it, but the acknowledgement of choosing it daily is often the first step towards being anxious for nothing.

Peter’s Concerns

Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be killed, and rise after three days. He was openly talking about this. So Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and looking at His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan, because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s!”

Mark 8:31-33 (HCSB)

Growing up in the church, this story of Christ talking about His imminent death wasn’t one covered often on the flannelgraph. We’d have the mini-loaves and fishes demonstration, the healing of the blind man, but there wasn’t a discussion on this story that is a turning point in the disciples’ relationship with Christ.

It wasn’t until I was older that I read this story, and was taken aback at how Christ called Peter Satan. I mean, this guy had his issues, for sure, but he was a tad bit mistaken and Christ called him the devil?

For years I struggled with this story, three verses wedged into Mark and the rebuke of Peter. I just couldn’t grasp why Peter’s concerns over Christ’s revelation of His death would be worth such harsh language from the Messiah.

Now I get it though…I see where Christ was frustrated because the disciples were still concerning themselves with the temporary. They were honed in on human concerns, such as bread for their boat trip, than they were for the ministry Christ was revealing throughout their journey. They had been front row for the casting out of demons, the healings of many, the raising of the dead girl, and even the teachings to the multitudes.

And they just weren’t getting it.

They were anxious over food. Over losing Christ.

Yet, don’t we often do the same? Even in our utter dependence on Him, in our valleys and our mountains we concern ourselves with the temporary of this earth. We find ourselves worrying over a test, money, or our marital status, all of which are things to be concerned over in our human thinking. But Christ reminds us here that these aren’t concerns to God. They just aren’t. That’s not to cast off these are trivial or meaningless.

They are temporary. Fleeting. Momentary. Earth-bound.

Christ calls us to the eternal. Being concerned with love, compassion, mercy, justice, patience, redemption, salvation. He calls us beyond bread to Living Water. To have cares and concerns that reflect His heart and His concerns. We know He is sovereign in our temporary, but we must also be diligent to keep the eternal as the priority.