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.

Over All,Even the Small

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It’s hard to fathom an “over all” ruler sometimes, especially in America where we cling desperately and aggressively to our democratic ways. We are the rulers of our choices. We are entitled to the rights and privileges, we get to vote for goodness sakes! We get a say in it all!

Believe me, I’m not advocating for a dictatorship in any way, but it’s funny how it shapes how we view so many things.

This week I have been especially drawn to the sovereign nature of things, of life, of Christ specifically. For me I see His sovereign nature as this big nebulous, orchestrating large movements and shifts in cultures and peoples. As I have dug deeper in study I am seeing that “over all” means over all. It means the big and the small, the minute detail and the largest scope of life.

Often we get it, but we don’t believe it in our daily life. We see the sovereign God of all at this 3,000 foot level where He’s reigning and weighing in on the big stuff-creation, judgement, salvation, redemption. But He’s also very present in His sovereignty in the small that I see as my life. He heals miraculously both in my broken heart and the terminal illness of another.

I often discount His character in my life, His presence of the nature that He can never not be. All of God’s character is present all of the time in the big, and my small. For He is Lord of all, meaning that decision I am making and the circumstances of my life. I see Him in the long game, but He’s in the short game as well with me.

It means He is sovereign, Lord of all, in the now of life. In this moment. In this thing. In a diagnosis. In a heart break. In an interview. In a birth. In a death. In my writing. In your hobby.

He is over it all. All.

Maybe I’m alone in realizing this, that He cares and reigns in my smallness. That is matters to Him, being over all in my small.

“In the presence of God, who gives life to all, and of Christ Jesus, who gave a good confession before Pontius Pilate, I charge you to keep the command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God will bring this about in His own time. He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings,and the Lord of lords…” 1 Timothy 6:13-15 (HCSB, emphasis mine)

So I look at Paul’s words now as he’s encouraging Timothy in the small of the work before him, to pursue righteousness and fight the good fight of faith. And I see these words below. The giving of life, the keeping of His commands…because He is Sovereign. He’s the God of BIG and small. In the fight and the rest. In salvation of all, and redemption of me. In each and every moment of my perceived smallness. Because He is a BIG God, He’s also the God of all..even in the small.

Sovereign Sun…

Normally on Fridays I post my favorite somethings or someones. They range from birthday gifts to things to know it’s Christmas. Today I want to take a bit of a different turn.

Last night I had the privilege to see Chris Tomlin in concert, thanks to Amy who knows his bass player and cowriter. I don’t think I have ever needed worship and time with God like I did last night. I know I am not alone in that sentiment either, as I saw many in the arena in awe of God filling them and being among us. It was a truly special time…While Chris was playing one song on the piano, about God’s sovereignty I had a thought roll into my head. I felt the urge to share it here with you all today…

Photo property of Sara Stacy
Photo property of Sara Stacy

As many of you know I love sunrises. I think my soul craves them. It may be the cause of my early birdness that developed in graduate school. One of my pastor mentor’s once said that he enjoyed them while he could because in heaven there would be no passing of time with sunrises or sunsets.

But every morning that I see the sun rise, regardless of where I am, I breathe a bit lighter. I wrap up in the comfort that with the dawning of the new day comes new mercies from God. By the end of the day though, when life has thrown so much at me and worn me down, I forget that sunrise and I forget those mercies are new. So last night while Chris played this song, God whispered:

I am the same God

at the dawning of a new day

and in the midst of the night.

And today I carry that knowledge…I pray you do as well.

He’s Not The God Of My Problems

That statement scares me. It scares me because I often have it cross my heart and my mind when I’m in the midst of a situation or problem. I will run down a list of why God cannot handle my problem. It usually looks like this:

 

  • He doesn’t have time for me.
  • Why would He care about that?
  • I obviously don’t have enough faith or this wouldn’t be a problem.
  • Who am I to take this to Him?
  • I cannot handle it, therefore He can’t either.
  • If He can’t handle it now, then He can’t handle it at all.

That’s a dangerous list, especially that last one. I fall into that lie of believing God works on my time frame. Where He fits in this time time and space box of my own making, and when He doesn’t follow through in the way my sinful self believes He should, then He’s not powerful enough to handle my problem. And you know what? I’m right about that. Because the god I have created, molded out of my own thinking cannot handle those problems. The small god, the idol god, that I take out of a box when times get hard can’t do much. All he can do is appease my selfish nature and lure me into thinking I don’t have to take anything further than him in his limited time.

The Almighty Sovereign God can though, if I’d let Him have the problems. If I would stop believing in the lie put before my own eyes, and start putting my full faith into a God who works for the good of those who love Him, I’d see that trials are a part of this life. I’d see that it wasn’t meant to be easy. If it was, would Christ have had to suffer on the cross for us? Would so many suffer persecution, torture, and death? Living a life fully devoted to following Christ and being the light for others is difficult. It gets even more difficult when I allow the lies to become the truth and I start living out my walk in a way that is not in accordance with Him and what He commands of me.

No where was this more apparent to me than in 2 Kings 5: 1-14. It’s the story of Naaman going to the prophet Elisha to be restored from a skin disease. Elisha commands him to go wash in the river seven times and he’ll be healed. Naaman didn’t like the work behind it, he questioned why he had to come all this way for that when he could have taken care of that in his own country’s river. He would rather live with that skin disease than wash seven times in a river at the urging of Elisha, a prophet of God.