Sometimes I awaken around 2 am only to slip into worry – awake, alert, and anxious. In those small hours of the morning the “what if” scenarios play out vividly. Concerns about work, health, kids, marriage, spiritual issues, the future make even a mature adult realize that it is not just little boys who see ‘monsters in the dark! So why the anxiety at 2 am? Thoughts that I put out of bounds during waking hours are able to find their way into my consciousness when I am not working or distracted. Emotions that are blocked by the daytime activities of my busy life find a doorway into my mind at that hour. How about you?
Our brains are full of thoughts, emotions, impulses, and ideas – many that exist just beyond the edge of our awareness. Those thoughts can be a real blessing, a source of tremendous creativity. It is a great thing, after wrestling with a problem for days, to suddenly have a bright idea that is just the right solution. Why does that happen? In part, we know that much of the work of the brain is done outside of our consciousness. That is why I know it is incredibly important to ‘condition’ my brain with wisdom and truth.
Want to change your actions? Need to change your thought patterns, even those of which you are unaware? Begin by feeding yourself with the Scripture. Spend time in meditation. Pray regularly and actively. Live in truth, not fantasy. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV) When we focus the conscious part of our mind on the Lord we gain a positive result. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT)
When anxiety shows up during the day, the best choice is to present those fears to the Lord. When I drag those thoughts that show up in the darkness into the light, when I talk about them in prayer and/or with a friend, they find a proper context. Just like the monsters ‘seen’ by that little boy I referenced a moment ago go away when Mom comes in and turns on the light, so too the ‘monsters’ largely disappear when we live in the Light.
Are you struggling with fear today? Do the headlines find a way into your head and resurface to make you anxious? Here is a word from the Word. Receive it with faith.
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers.
But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about his law.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail.
Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.
But this is not true of the wicked. They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.
For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.” (Psalm 1, NLT)
“What is the price of five sparrows? A couple of pennies? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Luke 12:4-7, NLT)
Oh, and by the way, there are a couple of practical things that help us not to wake up at 2 am. Reduce caffeine after midday. Avoid watching violent or exciting TV programs for an hour or so before going to bed. Develop regular habits including the same bed-time, going to bed to sleep instead of falling asleep on the couch, and closing the day with time in prayer.
Now Walk With God
On God’s holy Word, I challenge you,
To give to the Lord your life anew.
My friend, make your choice,
He waits for you
For this is the moment of truth.
Now walk with God
And He will be your dearest Friend.
Where’er you go,
In everything you do;
And may your life
Reflect His love to ev’ryone.
Now walk with God
And He will walk with you.
Otis Skillings © 1969 Lillenas Publishing Company (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
CCLI License # 810055