The problem with your friend Anxiety – you know the one who promises you control and power and “let me sit with you awhile and nurse your worries into full-grown monsters” --- that one, who never comes through for you, but leaves you stranded with fear, helplessness and no hope at all --- the problem with her is that she makes you blind to what could be and paralyzes you into a zombie state of indecision and inactivity. She doesn’t have to even block your way. She just simply ties up your feet with barbed wire and lets you stand there like a big target for her best friend Panic.
So why do we let Anxiety in the front door at all, sometimes greeting her at the welcome mat like an old friend and hug her tight? Remember, she always arrives fully armed, fully aware of what she is doing, and deadly. Her lips are smiling, and underneath are fangs that drain you of all strength.
Lately, when I have heard Anxiety walking up the front steps with her entire extended family, God reminds me of what He says in His Word: “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4. 6-7) On many occasions, I have repeated these two verses, a promise from Scripture to ward off an approaching tsunami of fear. God gives us the strength to carry what we face. We have no business or strength to also carry around the vampire of anxiety on our backs. Send Anxiety on her way. Don’t even open the door.
Today, while I was running and repeating this promise from the Scripture, God reminded me of the late E. V. Hill whom I heard preach shortly before he died: “Learn to read your Bible slowly.” E. V. Hill then started through the 23rd Psalm which is often so familiar that it is recited as if people are in a verbal race. “The Lord is my Shepherd,” he read in his deep resonant voice. He spent most of his sermon on those five words alone, one by one with a tremendous sense of significance attached to each. I was mesmerized. He could have preached all day, but like all really good preachers, he was conscious of his time. (I wanted to stand up and say, “oh please don’t look at your watch; keep speaking to us.”) So today, when I was reciting Philippians 4. 6-7, God reminded me to go slowly, word by word.
Have (possess, hold onto, abide in, claim, commit yourself to, be an owner of)
No (nothing, nada, “what part of the word NO do you not understand?”)
Anxiety (extreme worry, panic, paralysis, total fear, overwhelmedness)
About (embracing, surrounding, encompassing, involved in, related to)
Anything (any thing, whatever is troubling you, your foes, your fears, your life, those around you, the world itself, big stuff and the tiniest details)
But (in exchange for, here is where the change happens, put in place of)
In (an active verb for being, the opposite of out, committed to, leading to)
Everything (every thing, all, the opposite of nothing, anything that you can think of, every item on your fear list)
With (don’t do it alone, a walking partner side by side, put together)
Prayer (communicating with God, talking with God, listening to God, pouring out your heart to Him)
And (not single-dimensional, there is more, in addition to)
Supplication (laying it all out before Him, ready to follow, ready to let go)
With (again there is more to it)
Thanksgiving (giving thanks for the mess or situation or war zone, grateful for His Presence, ready to sacrifice even before the victory)
Let (give it up, give it to Him, allow, enable, loosen it up, free it to go, sign the permission slip to leave)
Your (not your Aunt Roberta’s, not anyone else’s but your very own, that which you possess, that which you fear, the very deepest part of you)
Requests (concerns, fears, “I need help with this” list, tears in the night, desires)
Be (a state of being)
Made (package it up, let loose, prepare for)
Known (intimate information, the state of knowing, revealing it all in a personal relationship, not just know but knowing)
To (what direction are you headed, on what are you focusing on, Whom are you seeking)
God (Heavenly Father, Creator of the Universe, the King, Savior, the Mighty God, Redeemer, Protector, Jehovah Jireh – the One who provides)
Ok, so you get it. Meditate on this verse – or any other – and think about the words you are reciting. SLOWLY. Let His Word sink in and saturate.
His Word provides and protects. His Word is a shield. And as my friend Tona says, “Scripture is the glue that holds us together.” Drink it in deeply.