Tag Archives: overcoming anxiety

Could God Ever Use Me?

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Judges 6:13-15

I love that scripture is filled with weak and reluctant heroes of the faith. I love it, because I know how feeble and hesitant I am. People often tell me they think I am so strong for all I’ve endured, but without Him there’s no way I could even stand. He has been my strength when mine was depleted. Gideon’s story could have turned out much differently if he hadn’t expressed his doubts and weakness to God. He had seen God work miraculously when he consumed the meat and bread Gideon prepared with fire (Jdgs. 6:21), but that was not enough to overcome his doubts. Next he laid fleeces before the Lord to test him, although the second time he apologized for doing it.

Finally, Gideon became convinced that God would keep him promise to defeat the Midianites, but in an interesting turn of events, God turned the tables on Gideon and tested him. He reduced the number of troops to fight Midian from 32,000 to 300. The amazing thing is that this previously trembling man did not hesitate to obey God. God did give him another sign that he would bring victory, but somewhere in the process Gideon had changed.

Not many of us start out strong in faith. We all come to God with brokenness and doubts. Life experiences and hurts have shaped our thinking, and warped our faith. The biggest difference between those who become heroes for the kingdom, and those who continue to wallow in doubt is that the heroes come honestly before God and confess their doubts. Then, they choose to act on the little faith they do have. Gideon’s story would not have made it into scripture if he had failed to act.

In my years as a Christian, I have let fear and doubt paralyze me, and the result was catastrophic. Even after I broke free of years of abuse, anxiety continued to rule my heart until it almost destroyed me. One day in the midst of a crisis, it dawned on me that I was living by fear rather than faith, and I knew that was so wrong for a Believer. I made a decision that day to choose faith over fear, and since then when doubts come, I refuse to allow them to control my actions. Instead I act on His promises, and the outcome is usually amazing. He never ceases to amaze when I choose to act in faith (in spite of my doubts)! I don’t always get it right, but I’m learning and I know that the God who could use Gideon and 300 men, with cracked pots, to defeat and entire army can use even me. And he can use even YOU.

For the entire story of Gideon, see Judges 6-7.

When the Mountain is Insurmountable…

Lately I feel like a ball of weakness. It’s amazing how much aging can change your perspective. When I was young, I thought I was so smart and so wise. These days all I can see is my weakness. Honestly, if it weren’t for your grace Lord, I think I would be completely depressed. You are the reason I get up each day, and the reason I move forward. Knowing You brings joy to my heart in spite of circumstances and in spite of my limitations. I love Paul’s declaration that your strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9), because that means there is unlimited potential here! I need You so desperately! As the deer pants for the water, so I long for you (Ps. 42:1). King David often called himself poor (or afflicted) and needy (Ps. 70:5, 86:1), and I know exactly what he meant. Life is hard, and in my estimation impossible without You. I guess I could pretend to have control and to just go on like half the world does, trying to find meaning in the meaningless. Actually, no I couldn’t! Meaning is found in the One who created life, and everything else comes up empty for me. Thank You for adopting me as your child! Thank You for giving meaning to an otherwise meaningless existence. Thank You for giving strength to the weak, and hope to the hopeless. You are all I need in this world, and need is a weak word. I am truly desperate for You! Today Lord, I am frustrated beyond words, and I understand that right now, I am surely not handling this trial in the Spirit. Frustration is not a fruit of the Spirit, but peace and joy are. That tells me that I have allowed circumstances to rule me rather than You. It means I am not walking in the Spirit, but in the flesh. Forgive me. I know there is something You want to teach me here. I know that You are calling me to change too. You are calling me to put this burden in your hands and leave it there. I love a quote I read in Draw the Circle yesterday that we are to work like it depends on us, and pray like it depends on God. I’ve been praying and acting, but I have also been taking this thing back upon my self on a daily basis. Each time, I allow anxiety to overtake me it means I’m looking to flesh, rather than You, for the answer. It means that even though I am praying for an answer, I am actually seeing this situation as impossible. Nothing is impossible with You Lord! I know there have been situations that it took a long time for me to see an answer, but You have always answered. Lord, right now rather than praying for an answer, I am asking for grace and peace to stop allowing frustration to rule. Give me wisdom on what actions I should take, and then help me to leave it in your hands. Help me walk in the Spirit today and every day until this trial is resolved. Help me to stop taking the burden back upon myself, and to move forward determined to praise You in spite of circumstances. You are worthy no matter what I face! There is nothing on earth or in heaven that can separate me from your love (Rom. 8:38-39), so help me to rest in that fact rather than flail anxiously about like I am a helpless orphan. You have everything in your loving hands, and You have a good plan. Now I choose to trust You to see it through, and I choose to refuse to let frustration rule my heart. Even when I don’t understand, I will praise You. Amen  

Dear Child, that “source of frustration” is also my child, and while I will never violate human will, I am at work. Remember how stubborn you were? Yet, I managed to reach and change you. I know it took many years, and that you are not willing to wait years for this situation to change, but your change was not a sudden thing. It came in small steps over the course of many years. Sure there were times of more dramatic growth in times of trial, but I was always at work. When I begin a good work in a life, I am faithful to complete it (Ph. 1:6). Do you believe I am at work? If you are seeing this situation as impossible, then apparently you do not. Nothing is impossible for those who believe (Mt. 17:20). Do not let a lack of faith occur in any part of your life. Remember that faith is also a fruit of the Spirit, and without it you cannot please me (Gal.5:22, Heb. 11:6). This is not only a lesson in walking in the Spirit, but one in walking by faith. You have said that my calling on your life seems impossible, yet you are moving towards it. So here you have another seemingly impossible situation. Will you trust Me to turn it around, or will you continue to try and take the reins from my hands? If you can’t trust me for this, will you be able to trust me for something that seems so much bigger? In fact, this situation is actually just a smaller version of the scores you plan to handle each year. The one who is faithful in the small things is also faithful in much (Lk. 16:10). Are you full of faith or full of doubt right now? Examine yourself (2 Cor. 15:5)! Are you standing in faith? Do you see dear child? This is a lesson in faith. As soon as you pass this test, we can move onto weightier matters. However, I am not asking you to muster up something from within yourself, I am asking you to try Me and prove Me. This is not difficult my child. Nothing is too difficult for Me (Jer. 32:17), but in your own power it surely is. Have faith and I will surely accomplish more than you ever could. My strength will be made perfect in your weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).  Every day, even every moment, you must choose to have faith. Choose to have faith and this mountain will be removed (Mk. 11:23). 

Lord, don’t you care?

Good Morning Lord. Here I am sitting at your feet waiting to partake in the good part of life. Everything else is temporary, and yet too often I get a wrapped up in things that will not last. Help me to live for your eternal kingdom today by loving You and others first. There are many things that have to be done, but just help me to see life through your eyes, so I know what is truly important. When I put too much emphasis on circumstances, it can make me question your goodness. I think about the story of Martha and Mary.

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

I used to see myself as a Mary, and it’s true that I love You fervently! But nothing in this passage indicates that Martha didn’t love You just as much as Mary. The difference is that she let the demands of life take precedence over the eternal, and when circumstances became the most important thing, she suddenly questioned your goodness. “Lord, do You not care…?” is one of the most telling lines in scripture. It’s a question I used to ask all the time when things weren’t going my way. I would never go so far as to mouth the words, but each time something negative happened—when people didn’t meet my expectations, or when negative things happened, I would sure wonder whether or not you cared. Then the worst trial of my whole life happened, and in the midst of that I realized that You not only care, but You share in my suffering. You care immensely, but your agenda is so much greater than merely making my life pleasant. You have used suffering to teach me so much! I have found your goodness in the midst of extreme pain, but I had to choose to seek You rather than instant relief. In those dark times, sitting at your feet offered the only peace and comfort.

Now that life is a little easier, I find myself acting a lot more like Martha than Mary again. “To do” lists tend to run my day rather than your Spirit, and I find myself anxious and bothered about many things. I know it is possible to live in this world, but not be controlled by it, yet I seem stuck serving “urgent” demands rather than waiting on You. I know part of the answer is figuring out what is truly urgent, and the other part is making the decision to sit at your feet and tune everything else out at the beginning of each day. Some days my efforts are just pathetic. I’m like a horse raring to get out of the gate, and trying to look away for a minute to focus on something else. I have it backwards! The race I should be running is towards You, not life demands. I need to keep my eyes focused on You. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).

Father, today I ask You to help me lay aside every weight, every urgent “to do” on my list, and run towards You. I know that is my calling. My relationship with You is the most important thing, “the good part,” that can’t be taken away. So help me focus on the eternal side of life rather than the temporary (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Thank You that I actually know there is a good, eternal part to life. I can’t imagine how people live without knowing there is more to life than things that pass away—it seems so futile and hopeless. What an awesome honor and privilege to understand there is more, and to be called your child! Yet I focus on the lesser things in spite of what I know and the One I know. Forgive me Lord, and right now I choose the better part that can’t be taken away. Amen

Come to Me and find rest. You are weary and heavy laden because of your choices (Mt. 11:28). You wear yourself out over lesser things. In my presence there is rest and peace that the world cannot comprehend. You know it, and have experienced it many times. I am not standing over you ready to condemn. I am standing before you asking you to come and partake of the living water that gives true satisfaction. There is nothing that can compare. I long to help you find rest for your soul. Taste and see that I am good! (Ps. 34:8). There is nothing that compares to Me, so remember all the benefits of knowing Me (Ps. 103), and come into my presence. You need your time with Me! It will give you strength and wisdom to face each day. Without Me, you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). Remember that and come freely. Do not come out of guilt or obligation, but out of love and passion—just as Mary did. Sit at my feet and partake of eternal truths that you will need to overcome the problems of life. Sit at my feet and bask in my goodness. Breathe deeply and experience my great love. It will carry you through the day in a state of rest rather than anxiety. That is my desire for you. It is not about doing, it is about being with Me. Come dear child, come.

Where Passion Flows out of Worship

Lord, I am giving this day to You. Today I choose to reject my own ways and my ability to trip myself up. I choose to walk in step with your Spirit, and choose to listen to your voice above all the others vying for my attention. I will look at people through your eyes, and seek to love them with the love only you can give. I will reject my impatience and wait on You. All my efforts are futile if you aren’t with me. Thank You for being so willing to receive me in spite of my imperfection. It blows my mind that such strength and perfection would choose to dwell with flawed frailty. Change me! Make me more like Jesus, and help me make a difference in this dismal world. Help me shine with your light and amazing love. I don’t want to waste time, but that seems to be my specialty. I am always busy, but am not sure I am always accomplishing anything. Guide me and make me ever sensitive to your leading. I yield! Lead me. Overcome me! I worship You—all mighty, all wise, all worthy and sufficient One! Forgive me for ever looking to anything or anyone beside You for satisfaction. You are truly enough to satisfy my thirsty soul. Thank You for your living water!

Dear one, I see your heart’s desire. All the effort in the world will not help you achieve it, but if your delight yourself in Me, I will give you the desires of your heart. Your desire is a good one, but your problem is that you are seeking it rather than Me. You know it is more important to be than to do, yet you trip yourself up with “to do” lists. If I want you to sit still and do nothing, that will be more worthwhile that all your doing could ever be. You are moving in the right direction when you choose to sit at my feet and worship. Cease striving—be still— know that I am God. Know Me and let Me guide your day. Stop fretting about things the world sees as important. I know your needs, and promise to take care of them if you seek my kingdom first. Keep in step with my Spirit and you will always be exactly where you need to be. You will also accomplish what you need to accomplish. Do not be anxious. Instead come abide in my presence, and find peace that surpasses your understanding. You have passion, but it has made you anxious. Now come to Me. Learn to find that place where passion flows out of worship. There can be no anxious thoughts in my presence, so enter in and rest. 

My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. Ps. 73:26, 28

See Ps. 37:4, Luke 10:38-42, Mt. 6:33, Gal. 5:25, Phil. 4:6.