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.

Do you ever look around when you are reading something really good, something that speaks to you and you just want to tell everyone? You want to run up to them and say “Did you know this already? Think about this! This is soooo good! You have to read it!!”

Just me? Oh okay then.

If you are one of the Bible study girls I have been with in the last few years, you would know my penchant for Paul. He’s my main squeeze and we roll well together. So it’s no surprise that when I revisit his letter to the Philippians, as I talked about a little yesterday, I find something anew, words that speak to where I am now in this moment.

I find I want to camp out there, sit awhile in words of truth that make my heart beat a bit faster, my mouth fall agape, and wonder if Paul is sitting in my life right now. Then I remember that God is the one who is in my life, seeing and guiding me to where I need to be in Him and leading me to these words from Paul that were given by God.

When we camp out, when we take time to truly sit in His Words it becomes alive and breathing to us. It breathes in hope, joy, peace, patience, love…and sometimes conviction. Okay probably more conviction than I am comfortable with, but here we are. Words written in a prison that I now sit on my couch rejoicing over, crying over because they are the words meant for this time in my life.

They mark a season in Paul’s life, of encouragement as he lives out daily endurances in prison. They mark a season in my life of wrestling, of encouragement and hope and not quitting. They are markers of remembrance, gifted to us if we but take time to be still and sit. It could be a book of the Bible, a chapter, or like me presently, two verses in Philippians that I just keep digging into again and again.

Whatever season you find yourself in, joy, heartache, suffering, hurt, love or peace, choose time to be in tune with what God has for you in His Word. Don’t miss the very goodness He gave through it as a means of speaking to your life in this very present way, in this very present moment.

Lacking Inspiration

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An amazing sunset. Seeing a student connect. My family laughing. Knowing how fortunate I am. Music. Friendships growing.

Those are just some of the things that inspire me. In the midst of the hard days, the messes, and the busyness of life I forget them. I instead jump to my tired mind, the lack of time for myself, frustrations of a situation, and all my other selfish flaws. I dwell on the gross parts and give them space to grow and mutate. I make them my friends and closest confidantes. I curl up with them and allow the foothold of strife and contempt to grow large.

The last several weeks I have found myself in just that place. Then this week I was reminded by someone who inspires me (and often scares me just a teensy bit) to stop and consider what inspires me in my work. While I was fighting this urge to pause and consider, I am so very thankful for it. I needed that deep breath. That sunset. That reminder of who and what inspire me.

I am not sure where you are at on this Friday. If you’re drained and needing inspiration, or you are full of joy and inspired in that. Wherever you are, stop for a moment and remind yourself that what you are doing matters. Even in the tense moments. In the frustrating meetings and conversations. It is all worth it. For the one who inspired you, and the one you may be inspiring at this very moment.

And this is my prayer: that your lovemay abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousnessthat comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

 -Philippians 1:9-11