Anxiety & Obedience
“You think you can mess up my plans? Do you not know who I am?”
One morning I was wrestling with feelings of inadequacy, feeling like the road ahead could, and most likely would, hold tasks that I couldn’t complete. I was completely anxious about what the future might hold. The Holy Spirit very clearly spoke to my heart and said the words above.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and anxious about our future, especially when our focus shifts from God to ourselves. I’m not surprised that we have such a huge population suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. According to WebMD, 40 million American adults age 18 years and older are affected by anxiety and panic disorders every year. We are right where Satan wants us: crippled and adrift.
We are reminded what it looks like to be crippled and adrift due to fear when we read the story of Peter walking on the water.
“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord save me!’” - Matt. 14:29-30
What Peter saw in front of him brought fear and caused him to doubt what God was asking him to do. Here’s the deal, Christ doesn’t say that our obedience is only required if it looks right to us. In fact there are going to be many times in our lives that what Christ asks of us will not make sense to us. And here’s why……
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8-9
Peter changed his focus; he stopped looking at God and started looking at all the scary stuff around him. The waves… the wind… it all must have seemed completely overwhelming and scary. Sometimes what God is requiring of us is overwhelming and scary, and what we really want to do is run to safety. Let me tell you that regardless of what you see, the absolute safest place you can be is right next to your Heavenly Father, in the middle of the stuff that doesn’t make sense to our human eyes! God is faithful!
“Immediately Jesus reached out His Hand and caught him, ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?” - Matt. 14:31
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” - Psalm 34:7
“ He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” - Psalm 91:4
“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” - Nahum 1:7
We have to move forward in obedience regardless of the scary stuff we come up against. Peter had the right idea; he got out of the boat and started walking. We have to start walking towards Christ, and allow him to direct our steps because “Even the wind and the waves obey Him.” Matthew 8:27b. Even the scary stuff we see is not too big for our sovereign God.
Is our anxiety about the future keeping us from obedience?
Anxiety- A state of uncertainty, disturbance of the mind regarding uncertain events. 1
The events of our life are NOT uncertain! We have a heavenly Father who has already planned in advance…… “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16
God does not take our future lightly, and we can be certain of the future he has planned!
Is the anxiety we are feeling due to our own lack of control? I believe it is, we wrestle with God for control of our circumstances and satan wrestles with us for control of our hearts.
Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
The war for our hearts is an on-going struggle but that is a struggle with satan not God. As Christians we have already given our hearts to Christ.
So what can we do? How do we keep anxiety at bay?
1.) WE REST IN A GOD WE CAN BE CERTAIN OF!
It's in surrender where we place our thoughts, our fears, our time, and our struggle to gain to control at His feet; that is when we find peace.
Rest - a cessation of all work, activity or emotion. To stop work; to place or lay. 1
"Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. " - 1 Peter 5:7
"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28
"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always." - Psalm 105:4
2.) WE LOOK TO HIS WORD FOR TRUTH AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
"Take to heart all the words I have declared to you this day... they are not just idol words for you- they are your life." - Deuteronomy 32:46-47
"Your words are a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path." - Psalm 119:105
"Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." - Joshua 1:7b-8
"For the Word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword." - Hebrews 4:12a
"All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16
3.) WE ACT IN OBEDIENCE.
When God gives direction, trust in His sovereignty and stop wrestling with Him for control of your circumstances.
"Many are the plans in a mans heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails," - Proverbs 19:21
"If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land." - Isaiah 1:19
"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands." - 2 John 1:6a
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your way acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6
When we surrender our anxiety about the future to God, when we fully trust Him with our circumstances, and when we have willing and obedient hearts... we see God's faithfulness!! When we are focused on Him instead of our own circumstances, life begins to look differently, fear finds no place and we can find peace and courage in Christ!
Be sure and listen to "Stand Still" to encourage your heart in letting go of anxiety!