Anxious for Nothing
The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, bur the prison of anxiety is optional. - Max Lucado
It's been only a few weeks since we finished our Lenten study and sermon series, "Anxious for Nothing." Unfortunately, there have been many times when I felt anxious about everything! Kids, health issues, scheduling changes, our church, our denomination, not missing end-of-the-year activities/concerts, not forgetting Mother's Day, and the list goes on. It's a busy season. With this in mind, let me remind us of what we learned - C.A.L.M. First step - Celebrate God's Goodness "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!" - Philippians 4:4 If you want to escape the cycle of anxiety, start with God. Focus on God's goodness and love. Another way to put this - stop focusing on life-less, life-sucking things. Spend the time you need on these matters, but no more than you need. As much as possible, focus on the goodness of God. Remember and reflect on God's many (and daily) blessings in your life. (If it helps, list them out so you can focus on them.) Second step - Ask for God's Help "Do not worry about anxious, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." - Philippians 4:6 In times of crisis, don't despair, turn to prayer. Don't run in circles, fall on your knees. As people of faith, we're given the gift of prayer. Prayer is not a magic pill nor a genie's lamp. Prayer is communing with God. Prayer is connecting with the Source of life and peace. Prayer is connecting with the One, who walks with us through the deepest valley and gives us the strength to persevere. Third step - Leave your concerns with God In other words, let go and let God. Stop placing your concerns in God's hands and then taking them back. Pray and then trust that God hears you. Trust that God loves you and will help you get through this difficult season of life. Be specific with your prayers. Be persistent with your prayers. (Yes, it's ok to pray for something more than once.) Leave your concerns with God. Fourth step - Meditate on these things "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." - Philippians 4:8 This last step to experience peace is meditating (focusing our attention) on God and the things of God. Another way to think about this - STOP meditating on those things that are anxious, fearful, hurtful, and hateful. STOP obsessing on those thoughts that crush your self-esteem and pierce your soul. STOP focusing on those voices that tell you that you can't do it, that you're not good enough, that you're unworthy of love, life, joy. This last step is very important because it reminds you that YOU're in charge of what you think about. God has given YOU (and you alone) the remote control to your mind. You are the captain of your grey matter. I like the way Max Lucado puts it, "We occupy the control tower of our mental airport." So, be careful of what you think. Be proactive on what you feed your mind. Be mindful of the things you focus on. Practice C.A.L.M. daily, and may we experience God's great gift of PEACE.