Loving God, Slaying Fear
Everyone has anxious thoughts. Worry is embedded in our human nature, and that's not oblivious to God. In the bible, fear and worry are talked about repeatedly over and over again. In fact, the phrase "do not fear" or "do not be afraid" is one of the most repeated commands in the Bible.
A few weeks ago I sat down with my to-do list in front of me and I became so overwhelmed with stress and worry, I sat unmotivated to even start tackling that list. I sat there letting worry after worry seep into my thoughts. It wasn't anything about the to-do list. It was everything else that wasn't on there that I wanted answers to immediately. If you've ever felt like your mind is going a hundred different directions and you can't direct your focus on one task, that was exactly what I was feeling.
After sitting for 10 minutes daunted by the unknown of the future that was ahead of me I remembered these words that Jesus repeated as the Greatest Commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all heart, all your soul, and all your mind." In Hebrew, this verse is a prayer called the "Shema" and it is a very crucial part of day and night prayer in Jewish culture. I've always had a special reverence for the truth in this verse. That day however, the Shema spoke into my life a new way breaking my habits of anxiousness.
In that moment, my heart was worried about the future, my mind was missing the simplicity of the past, and my soul was dwelling in the anxiousness I had felt in that moment. With the words of this commandment ringing in my mind, I started to realize that I didn't allow room in my heart, mind, or soul for loving the Lord and his plans for my life.
Where is your heart, mind, and soul? I've found that to be a key question for keeping me centered on the things of God: the things that are lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (1 Cor 4:8). If any thoughts don't fall under the category of the 1 Corinthians 4:8 qualities, stop it before it plants seeds of fear and anxiety in your mind. Ask yourself where your heart, mind and soul are? When Satan starts to plant lies in your head telling you to worry about this and that, be proactive by responding with a promise from God. Maybe that looks like: "I don't know the 5 year plan for my life but God promises me that He know the plans and not only that, but his plans are to prosper me."
Unlearning anxiety and learning to practice freedom in Christ is often a journey, not a miracle. God calls us to focus on Him, the one who knows all and is in control of all with every aspect of our being. You don't have to stretch yourself thin by splitting your thoughts between the earthly past, present and future. I encourage you to lean into the grace of God and extend grace to yourself and when the going get's tough, shower your mind with the words in this Psalm:
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?