Tag Archives: anxiety

Judges 6-8; Fear and Fearlessness

I live on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, so one of my least favorite movies is “Jaws.” I’d rather not think about what’s swimming around out there. But the movie makers did an incredible job of instilling fear into the audience with the use of music. Well, two notes, really. They’d play those two notes softly at first, then gradually those notes would get faster, and louder, then at just the right moment, the shark would attack, leaving the audience gasping or screaming at the screen. During the movie, hearing those two notes caused heart rates to rise, even if the action on the screen was happy and carefree. Those two notes could make you believe something bad was about to happen.

Fear often causes us to lose control, and we wind up screaming at a movie screen while sitting in a cushioned chair thousands of miles away from any ocean. That’s why I never liked haunted houses, either. The longer I groped my way through darkened halls, the faster my heart beat, and the more irrational thoughts became reality, sometimes causing me to see things that weren’t really there.

So I’m reading in Judges today how Gideon, with 300 soldiers, lamps, and trumpets, defeated an army of 15,000. And I had one of those laugh-out-loud moments.

The night before the battle, Gideon and one of his soldiers, sneaked into the enemy camp. God, wanting to ease Gideon’s fears, told him to go and hear what the enemy soldiers were saying. Gideon learned that the enemy soldiers were telling each other that the Jewish God was going to help the Jews, that the battle was already lost before it began.

Now, Scripture doesn’t tell us this, but when I put myself in the enemy’s shoes, I can imagine their confidence was low. I imagine the more they thought about what could be ahead for them, their level of fear rose. I bet they didn’t sleep peacefully the night before they knew there was a good chance they were going to die in battle. If it were me, I’d toss and turn imaging worst case.

Then, just before dawn, this sleep deprived and fearful army were startled by the sound of trumpets, the crashing of breaking glass, and the sudden light of dozens of torches. You’re going to think I’m a bit morbid, but here is where I laughed out loud.

Because I pictured the Three Stooges, suddenly surprised, and hitting and poking each other in the dark.

These soldiers, fueled by their fear, began thrashing their swords, killing anything that moved, not even realizing they were killing their own.

How often in Scripture do we read, “Fear not?” Or how often are we told by God not to worry? Even when we know God’s got this covered, do we allow our fears and worries dominate our thoughts, causing those sleepless nights, that anxiety, until we begin to see things that aren’t even there?

We’ve got to understand that, at the height of fear, we are apt to think and act irrationally, impulsively, distrustfully. We’re liable to start striking out at the people closest to us. God wants better for us than that.

Gideon was comforted and strengthened when God assured Him of the victory. I believe God would like to do the same for us.

Are you facing something really scary? Do you hear that two note Jaws theme getting louder and faster? Then pray. Read God’s Word. Trust Him. Hear Him assure you He’s got this covered. Then believe Him.

Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you. (from I Peter 5:7). He cares that you have peace in the storm, that you are prepared to face the battle, that you are sober minded and able to act and react rationally, and with confidence in His ability to give you the victory.

I pray that you will live fearlessly as a result of putting your faith in God.

October 10 -Who, me? Anxious?

Matthew 5-7

I have to confess that I am getting frustrated about not being allowed back on the island since Hurricane Matthew. I have not seen my house and have no idea if windows are intact or if my things are exposed to the elements, the animals, and looters. I don’t know what to expect, and according to the rumor mill, we may not get home for days.

So this afternoon, as I sit in a hotel room, I read the chapters from my Bible reading plan for October 10: The Sermon on the Mount. As is often the case, God used His Word to speak the exact words I needed to hear today. This is what I heard Him say:

“Don’t be anxious, Connie. Isn’t your life more than the things you own? Have you seen a bird recently? What about the flowers at Gibbs Gardens you saw the other day? Or the grass in the lawn outside your hotel window? I take care of nature,” He reminds me, “and I love you so much more than that. Seek Me and you’ll have everything you need.You’ll have Me! Don’t waste a minute today worrying about tomorrow. I’ve got this covered.”

I am reminded to cast all my cares on Him because He cares for me.

So, Lord, Here are my cares, my concerns, the unknown of my situation. It’s all Yours. You know my heart, and I trust You to provide in the perfect way You always do. Thank You for loving me and caring for me. Draw me close to You and let me rest in the knowledge that You know exactly what I need.

July 20 – My Rock

Isaiah 23-27

Selling two homes, buying one, moving 600 miles away from family, packing boxes, moving vans, closings, finances, utilities. To say I’m feeling a little overwhelmed is an understatement. In the past two weeks I have contracts on my two condos, have gone through about twenty homes with my realtor, and put an offer on one. My head is spinning.

It’s times like this when I am reminded that, no matter how busy my life, no matter how many directions I am pulled, I need to protect my time in God’s Word. These intentional moments I spend with my Savior are really the most important part of every day.

Isaiah reminded me this morning to “Trust in the Lord forever, for on God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” (26:4)

My footing right now feels unsteady. There are so many questions yet to be answered about this move. I may be stressed. But I have a Rock. I need but trust Him with today and eternity.

So with Isaiah I will pray “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders…”

He has. And He will.

You Aren’t God

The Bible talks a lot about how we should consider our “selves”. I know modern psychology, and Oprah, and Joel Osteen, and the like say we need to feel powerful, and able, and special, fulfilled, and important. But I see the Bible telling us something quite different. I see Scripture saying we are helpless, sinful, depraved, that we need someone outside ourselves to save us from drowning.

Modern psychology does not work. We are a people drowning in a sea of “self”. People who are angry, depressed, anxious, violent, and who keep looking within themselves for answers because that’s the popular notion are looking in the wrong direction. How many people are medicated today because of psychological problems from eating disorders, to sexual confusion, anxiety to clinical depression? Even children are given pills for psychological problems.

Our children are taught that they are the most important entity in their own lives. So, when a police officer tells a young person to stop, to put their hands in the air, or to drop a gun, we end up reading about a shooting because the young person feels he is above the law. We hear about unspeakable crimes against children, against women, against the elderly because someone has considered their own desires more important than anything else. Abortion? Don’t get me started.

I was reading in Isaiah this morning and was impressed by God’s take on the whole thing. Chapter 45:9-10 tells us what is created has no business questioning the Creator. 47:10-11 says when we say, “I am, and there is no one else besides me,” evil will come upon us.  Proverbs 26:12 says a man who is wise in his own eyes has less hope than a fool.

These verses are only a few throughout the Bible that warn us about the foolishness of focusing on ourselves. Isaiah 48 spoke to me about who God really is. He is the Creator. He alone is God. And everything he does points to the fact of his absolute superiority.

Isaiah 46:5 asks a redundant question. Do I really want to put myself up next to God to establish equality? Do I really?

This just occurred to me as I was thinking about this subject. When a counselor or a pastor tells us to change our thinking about ourselves by telling ourselves how wonderful we are, we end up repeating things like:

I am powerful.

I am capable.

I am good.

I am worthy.

And in doing so, we replace the Great I AM with a counterfeit. Satan wins. We lose.

May you see yourself through God’s eyes today. You are someone who is lost, who is vile, who is powerless, and someone Jesus felt was worth dying for. Let him transform you into someone truly powerful and capable and good and worthy when he pours Himself into you, when HE gives you everything you need to face this day and its challenges.

There is nothing you can do for yourself that he can’t do so much better. After all, he’s God. And you’re not.

Stormy Seas

I’ve never been in a storm at sea. I don’t even want to imagine the fear of being that exposed to danger out there surrounded by water miles deep. I’ve never been in a tropical storm or lived through a tornado. In fact, there have been only a few times I’ve even come close.

But as I read about the terror the passengers and crew experienced in the ship carrying Paul to Rome, I can relate. (Acts 27) Not because I’ve been there, but because I know to an extent, what it’s like to face storms of life.

Getting laid off from my job, Mom’s cancer, financial struggles, my sister’s cancer, my nephew Geoff’s death, Dad’s death. I can’t hold my storms up next to anyone else’s and say mine were harder or that mine were less significant. I only know there have been times that I felt hopeless and lost, when I found it hard to breathe, when fear of the future (or present) caused me sleepless nights.

The account of Paul’s storm at sea reminds me that, no matter how bad the circumstances, no matter how hopeless the future appears, when I am tossed about and can’t find the sun, God is standing next to me.

My only hope is to stay in the boat, holding on to my Savior, riding out the storm together. In this account in the book of Acts, God didn’t calm the storm. But the people on board made it safely to shore. This tells me that my circumstances might not change. The cancer diagnosis might not be a mistake. A broken relationship might not heal. Whatever the cause of my anxiety, depression, fear, might not magically disappear.

But God can see me safely to the other side. I can trust him. And I will.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your Presence. You are stronger than any storm I have to face. And I find comfort in knowing that… knowing You. I pray for those reading this today who are being bounced around in a frightening storm. I pray your strength, your comfort, your direction will be evident in the midst. I pray they will hold on, that they will trust you to see them through. Thank you in advance for what you are going to do in the lives of those of us who are facing stormy seas.

A Winter’s Storm

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God’s power is definitely displayed in the weather. Man has been trying to control the weather for centuries, but I’m pretty sure that’s one thing that won’t totally happen. Nature is a God-thing.

Elihu tells Job in 37:6&7 that storms often cause people to stop and watch. I remember, as a child our dad used to take us girls to a window during a storm. He taught us to count seconds between lightening flashes and thunder to guess distance. We’d watch trees bend in the wind and learned to be awed by their strength. We saw beauty in the dark cloud formations and looked for rays of sunlight because Dad did.

I’m in southern Georgia and they are calling for snow today. Schools are closed and people are tucked in their homes in anticipation. My neighbor hopes it snows like she remembers in 1958 when she enjoyed her one and only ever snowball fight.

Ohioans have been treated to some pretty awesome winter phenomena this year, laser-like light shows and snow rolls fashioned by God himself.

Nature declares the glory of God!

I am reminded that this same God is as evident in our storms of life. Hardships and trials are avenues through which God can demonstrate his power and love. Sometimes those very challenges can cause us to stop and watch God do his thing.

Are you side-lined by depression, grief, anxiety, uncertainty, loss, worry…? I would challenge you to give it to God, then sit back and watch what he can do.

You’ll be as amazed as those of us watching a southern Georgia snowstorm.