Tag Archives: Anxiety

Echoes of Peace

My fear rises
The verse echoes in my mind
Do not be anxious, pray, be thankful

Peace reigns in my heart

I see her fear
The verse echoes from my mouth
Do not be anxious, let’s pray, be thankful

Peace reigns in her heart

_________________________________

Today is Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub where De is calling for our 44-word tomes that include some form of the word echo. Seemed appropriate to write something that had a bit of an echo to it.

So I went to read some other Quadrilles, and after 3 that seemed very, very long, it dawned on me that I’d written a 30-word poem instead of a 44-word poem. I guess 30 days of doing something does create a habit! I’ve fixed it now.

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God Is Always with Me

At the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus says to the disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NIV). When He said this, He was talking not just to those disciples who were present, but to all who believe in Him even today. That includes me. He is always with me. He showed me that in a very concrete way this past week.

On Tuesday I had an appointment that I had been putting off for over a year. It may seem like a small thing to many of you, but to me it was huge. I was afraid to make and keep this appointment. But with God’s encouragement I finally did it.

I went to the dentist to have prep done for a crown. I know, people get crowns every day, but I have since childhood been extremely uncomfortable in the dentist’s chair. It stems from a childhood experience that I won’t go into because it’s not the point of this story. Suffice it to say that I have for as long as I can remember been tense and nervous when I have to go to the dentist, even for a cleaning.

There was no getting around the fact that I needed a crown. I have a hairline fracture in a tooth and I barely chew on that side because if I chew on anything even slightly hard it hurts. A year ago the new dentist I started seeing told me I needed to do this. He was nice about it and understanding about my fear, and he didn’t pressure me to put a crown or overlay on every molar in my mouth as a prior dentist had tried to do. I liked his manner enough that I finally felt like I’d found a dentist I could trust. (His name is Jack Henry in Lake Oswego, if you happen to be looking for a good dentist.)

After praying for God’s peace (see Philippians 4:6-7), I finally scheduled a cleaning one week and the crown prep the following week. Halfway through the cleaning appointment, I realized I was the most relaxed I had ever been in a dentist’s chair. This gave me hope that the crown prep wouldn’t be so bad.

Did I mention that I dislike Novocain intensely? It tends to cause my cheek and jaw to hurt for several days. So in spite of the good cleaning appointment, I was still feeling anxious as I looked ahead to the crown prep because I knew there would be Novocain and drilling involved.

But again, I prayed that God would give me peace and help me to not be afraid during this appointment.

I arrived on time and was escorted to the dentist’s chair. I asked if I could listen to music while they worked because I had brought my iPod and headphones. The dentist not only said I could but said it was a great idea. He likes to listen to music when he has dental work done, too, because he doesn’t like the sound of the grinder and drill. It was very reassuring to know that he understood that this procedure was not at all pleasant and that he was going to do whatever he could to make it better.

As he began to work, I shuffled my iPod on a MercyMe and Jeremy Camp playlist I had created in anticipation of Fish Fest that I am going to in August with some friends. And that’s when God so clearly reminded me that He is always with me. The first song that played was God with Us by MercyMe. I heard these beginning lyrics:

Who are we
That You would be mindful of us
What do You see
That’s worth looking our way

We are free
In ways that we never should be
Sweet release from the grip of these chains

I knew that He was mindful of this small thing in my life. I knew He had released me from the chains of fear that had kept me from making this appointment a year before. As that song ended, I felt the peace of knowing God was with me, but He wasn’t done reminding me. The next song to randomly play on shuffle was Here with Me, also by MercyMe, with lyrics that say:

And I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

You’re everywhere I go
I am not alone
You call me as your own
To know you and be known

Oh, that He would care so much for me; that He knows so well my anxiety and fear and also how to calm that fear. And then He reminded me of why I was feeling such peace in what would have otherwise been a tense and stressful situation. The next song to play was Every Time by Jeremy Camp. The chorus and one of the verses of this song say:

Every time I’m on my knees, pleading for Your strength
I will find You there, find you there
Every time I’m on my knees, reaching for Your strength
I will find You there, find You there

I’m holding on to this hope
I’ve been given, to be always with You
I’m seeing now
That this fullness of faith is, always seeking You

That very morning I had been on my knees pleading God for strength and peace to endure this appointment that my natural self dreaded. I held onto the hope that He would be with me, and He was faithful as always. Rather than be anxious about my appointment, I brought my concern to God, with thanksgiving, and His peace was my reward.

By the time this third song ended, Dr. Henry was done with the drilling and grinding. I was not tense and had not felt a thing. And to top it all off, the Novocain wore off much more quickly than I had expected and there were no lasting effects of pain in my cheek or jaw.

God is always with me, even at the dentist. What an awesome and wonderful God He is!

 

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Don’t Worry – My Tuesday Three

Worry plagues the human race and has the power to destroy, derail, and plunge us into despair. Worry serves no useful purpose. Unlike planning and preparing, worry is a state of the mind with no action associated with it. I recently heard a statistic that 95% of what people worry about never happens. I suspect that for avid worriers that number is even higher.

For My Tuesday Three, I wanted to share my three favorite Bible passages about worry, and the answer the Lord gives us on how to combat worry.

The first passage is from Matthew and is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 26:25-30 (NIV).

I love how Jesus bluntly reminds us that we can’t add a single hour to our life by worrying; it just doesn’t help anything. The key to not worrying is to have faith that God loves us and will care for us. After all, He cares for birds and flowers that are much less valuable to Him than we are, so why do we think He won’t care for us?

The second passage is from 1 Peter and includes similar advice to what Jesus said in Matthew:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:7-11 (NIV).

Just that first verse is a good one, and so easy to remember. It echoes Jesus’ words that God cares for each of us. I once wrote a whole poem based on that single verse. But if you continue reading you see that the advice to cast your anxiety on Jesus doesn’t mean you should think nothing bad could ever happen. In fact, this passage tells us that we will encounter suffering, which is what most people worry about. But still worry doesn’t help. Rather we need to be prepared for what might happen, and trust that God will never leave us in our suffering. We need to have faith that whatever comes our way is only temporary and that Christ will restore us.

The third passage, from Philippians, is one I can quote from memory, and I often do quote it to other people when they say they are anxious or worried about something. Next to John 14:6, it is my favorite Bible verse. I once was a terrible worrier, and this is the verse that truly helped me to leave that behind me and trust God.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV).

The advice of this short passage is priceless and true. Instead of worrying, this passage tells us to pray about our concerns “with thanksgiving.” Remember, God cares. He wants to know how we feel and what our needs are. If we have a sick loved one and we want them to be well, He wants to hear about that from us. In the process, we need to thank Him for how He will handle the situation. If we have lost our job or are just unhappy in the one we have, we need to bring our petition for a new job and for financial support to the Lord, and thank Him for the provisions He has made in our life thus far. Whatever the need, whatever the petition, whatever it is you might be worrying about, bring it to God in prayer, thanking Him for His love and mercy.

The second part of this passage is my favorite. It tells us that the result of bringing our concerns to God in prayer is that we will know peace in our hearts and minds. It is a peace that “transcends all understanding.” It’s not logical, it is spiritual. It is a peace I never want to live without even though I have no idea how He has placed it in my heart and mind.

Do you have a tendency to worry about the future? Do “what if’s” plague your thinking? Are you in despair because you are sure the worst will happen any minute? Turn all your worries over to God. He cares and He knows that what you need is peace in your heart and mind so that you can face each new day with faith and courage.

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Love Drives Out Fear

Fear and worry are common in our society today. And people seem to worry and be afraid about the simplest things. The other day I was talking to a friend about some pictures she needed to get framed. She said she had taken them to the frame shop three times, but had never left them to be framed because she was afraid she would make the wrong choice of frames. She had finally left them on her fourth visit, but was now afraid to go pick them up.

I used to worry a lot. I was afraid to talk to people; I was even afraid to leave my house. I remember having a panic attack at a traveling Smithsonian exhibit because I lost sight of my husband. In retrospect, it was silly to be afraid because I knew where our car was, I had the keys, and I knew the way home. Plus I knew he was there somewhere. But fear gripped me anyway.

This kind of fear and worry do not come from God. They are lies of the evil one. The apostle John wrote: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:16. When we know and understand God’s love, there is no need to fear. Even in our most difficult trials, He has won for us the ultimate victory through His love and sacrifice. In the words of the old hymn, “Though the devil may ruin, though trials may come, It is well with my soul.”

But how do we avoid fear and worry in a world that caters to and preys on these emotions? The answer is given to us in 1 Peter 5:7, which is the basis of this poem:

On 1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety
On Him
.
All?
Yes, all.
Keep none for yourself.

Why would He
Want all my anxiety?
Because
He cares for you
.

Why would I
Want to give it away?
Because
Then you will know
Peace and freedom
For your soul.

God’s perfect love has driven out fear from my heart. I pray He will do the same for you.

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An Attitude of Kneeling?

This week, and today in particular, have been mentally exhausting. I had to prepare for a big presentation at work, which I gave this morning. The presentation went just fine and was very well received by my audience. But it resulted in a decision that will involve big changes for my department in the coming months, and so the mental exhaustion is really just beginning.

This week I’ve been listening to Audio Adrenaline in my car, and one of the songs fits my situation just perfectly. It’s called “Underdog” and the first verse is:

I am so weak and I’m so tired
It’s hard for me to
Find enough strength to feed the fires
That fuel my ego
And consequently all my pride has all but died
Which leaves me
Down on my knees
Back to the place I
Should have started from

The stress of what has been going on at work has literally brought me to my knees in prayer every morning for the past two weeks. Now for some of you, that might not seem like a big deal, but for me it is huge.

Until we remodeled our house last year, we lived in 768 sq. ft. of very crowded space. My bedroom and home office were in the same very small 1941-style bedroom, and there was no place physically big enough for me to kneel to pray. And so I would always say to God that I had an attitude of kneeling in my heart, and that was good enough. When the space was not there, He didn’t argue with me on this point. But now that we have remodeled I have a very large new bedroom with soft new carpet, a reading chair and footstool, and plenty of open space and quiet to kneel and pray. Several weeks ago, God reminded me of this, and I again responded that I had an attitude of kneeling in my heart, and that was what really mattered. Turns out I was wrong, and He let me know as much.

So for the past two weeks I have been literally kneeling to pray. At first it was strange for me, but now I wouldn’t want to start my day any other way. It is the best place to draw upon God’s wisdom and strength for what will inevitably be an exhausting and stressful day. My attitude about work and the changes that are occurring has improved immensely. I am trusting God more that He is really in charge of the final outcome. “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.

Prayer is so important that I don’t know why I’ve neglected it at times in my life. I suspect there will be times in the future when I will neglect it again, though I will try not to. I want to remember that prayer is the perfect antidote for anxiety and worry. The apostle Paul wrote:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.

I love that idea of peace that transcends all understanding. I don’t have to know how it works that prayer brings me peace in situations where I would naturally feel stress and anxiety. All I have to know is that it works. If I pray, God will grant me peace. He will grant you peace, too, if only you will kneel and pray. As Audio Adrenaline sings, this is the place we should have started from.

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