The mistake of panic!

wordswag_1504871676821.pngHurricane Irma is aimed at Florida. My children and grandchildren are in the forecast path. I confess to feeling some fear, helpless to do anything, unable to ‘take care’ of them.  That concern is just piled on top of other situations that give me reason to be concerned, but I am resisting the mistake of panic. My prayer goes like this:  “Father, You love me and when all else is changing, You are the anchor, the Unchanging One. Help my heart and mind to hold onto You.”  In my mind, I can see Bev leading children in one of my favorite kids song – “and I won’t worry about tomorrow, I’m trusting in what you say – today is the day.”  If I allow fear to rule, a gnawing anxiety sucks the breath out of me!

Paul was inspired to write this instruction to us.  “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7, The Message)  Take a second and go back and re-read those words. Now, take the promise, breath it in!

Christian, though we live surrounded by storms, conflict, and uncertainty, we need not live in a panic. He promises us a ‘peace that passes human understanding.’ It is given to us freely, but we must choose to receive it. How?

First, submit your emotions to the facts. Declare your status as God’s child.

We are not orphans, scrabbling to deal with life, defensive and alone. The Bible says, “you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.” (Romans 8:15, NLT) Because of Jesus, we are loved. That truth is so healing, the Enemy of God and good does everything he is able to do to keep us from believing it. He tries to keep us focused on our failures. He does what he can to amplify  the voices of our critics. He tries to narrow our vision to the sorry and sad side of life. So, when anxiety creeps up on us, we must turn to the Word and to worship, praising God for His love; personalizing it! “God loves me!”  Why?  John tells us that “perfect love drives out fear!”

Second, talk about your anxiety with your Father and, if necessary, with a mature Christian friend.

Remember when you were a child and the shadows cast on your bedroom wall by the moonlight were so scary? Everything looked bigger, the shapes turning into monsters! When we grow anxious even as reasonable adults, we can lose perspective.  When we try to be big and brave all alone, terror can take hold deep inside of us.  Prayer, real and heart-felt, is our privilege. Our words need not be eloquent. “Help me, Jesus!” is all that is necessary. We call on the Presence and power of the Lord and wait for the Spirit Who comes to lift us up into the Throne Room of God. The Word tells us that Jesus is “(a priest) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence.”  (Hebrews 4:15)  And, we are privileged to pray with others of like faith, too.

Third, evaluate the situation in ultimate terms.

Take your fear and ask – What is the worst that could happen?  The Psalmist asks, “in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11, NIV) Again, this can be a solo exercise, but it is much more effective when there is a trusted friend who will listen, encourage, and keep your perspective on life in balance. Even death, the ultimate enemy of humanity, loses its terror when our lives are hidden in Christ.  Oh, I don’t mean to dismiss the awfulness of life. Suffering is awful. Grief is wrenching, believe me, I know!  But, Paul reminds us that “to die is gain!”

Fourth – do what’s right!

Pain, especially the emotional kind, makes us desperate for relief, doesn’t it?  When we are anxious, we become susceptible to the temptation of things that offer us a quick lift. Usually what gives short-term relief, produces long-term destruction.  So, put your mind in charge of your heart. Do the right thing,  just because it is the right thing to do! Share your need, your fear, even your temptation with someone who will offer wisdom. When we tell someone that we want to spend too much, quit our job, or get drunk- the very telling can help us to see the folly of the proposed ‘solution’ to our problem. Even in temptation, God promises that He ‘will never leave us nor forsake us.’ And, He has promised to make a way for us to stand up in times of temptation. So, do what’s right!

Take this word from the Word for this day. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-9:1, NIV)

_________

Today Is The Day
(listen and worship)

I’m casting my cares aside
I’m leaving my past behind
I’m setting my heart and mind on You Jesus
I’m reaching my hands to Yours
Believing there’s so much more
Knowing that all You have in store for me is good
It’s good

 Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
And I won’t worry about tomorrow
I’m trusting in what You say
Today is the day today is the day

 I’m putting my fears aside
I’m leaving my doubts behind
I’m giving my hopes and dreams to You Jesus
I’m reaching my hands to Yours
Believing there’s so much more
Knowing that all You have in store for me is good
It’s good

 I will stand upon Your truth
And all my days I’ll live for You
And I will stand upon Your truth
And all my days I’ll live for You 

Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
And I won’t worry about tomorrow
I’m giving You my fears and sorrows
Where You lead me I will follow
I’m trusting in what You say
Today is the day (5X)

Lincoln Brewster | Paul Baloche
© 2008 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing
Leadworship Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music
CCLI License # 810055

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