I throw an assortment of snack foods into a reusable bag and look for the wandering water bottles that have been strewn about the house. The sink is full of dishes and the kids are all dressed in mismatched, self-chosen outfits, and everyone is still looking for the stray flip-flop our four year old needs before we can set off. We’re all eager to get out to meet up with some friends, and ragged bunch that we are, I’m funneling all energy toward this much-needed outing to alleviate the cranky vibe generated from being in close quarters with too many people. I feel scattered and disorganized, like my mind is elsewhere, because the truth is, it is.
The tension in my shoulders and the desperate feeling I have in that nebulous heart space in the center of me are merely symptoms of the anxious thoughts rolling around in my head.
There is no active situation that has me tied up in knots. It’s everything and nothing at the same time—my practiced habit of allowing stress and worry to steal my peace. Both are a real part of my daily experience, and neither are doing me any favors.
The kids are at the door, suits on and towels slung around their necks. They elbow for their positions in the exit order, as I’m flinging my hair up in a top-knot so I won’t have strands flying every which way in the wind down by the water. I snatch extra diapers, wipes, sunscreen, and my keys, shooing my parade of children out the door to our jumbo passenger van waiting outside.
The beach we go to isn’t especially glamorous. There is no smooth sand to sift through toes. The shore is rocky, it takes a bit of a hike to get down near the water’s edge, and each child must carry assigned items down and back.
Our area rarely reaches beach-worthy temperatures, but the forecast for today delivered on its promise. We traipse our way to an open place among driftwood and rocks to set everything down, beach gear and worries alike. With the blanket unfurled and everyone rubbed down with a layer of sunscreen, I send the children off to explore treasures brought in by the tide.
Finally at rest in my chair and facing the wide open water, I welcome the warmth of the sun as a way to melt my worries—conversing with God in the quiet of my heart.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Luke 12:25-26 NIV
It’s true. Worry keeps me captive in my mind and robs me of courage. It steers me away from remembering the sufficiency of God’s grace through every circumstance. Worry entangles my soul in a battle that isn’t mine and distracts from the simple faithfulness God calls me to each day.
I’ve learned through the years that worry actively inhibits my ability to find rest in the Lord. It chips away at the trust I claim to have in the goodness and sovereignty of God in every circumstance.
Worry is a foe that must be fought with prayer, continual reminders from God’s Word, and deliberate choices to thoughtfully remember His steadfast care. It is up to me to take refuge in Him.
“If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.” Psalm 91:9-13 NIV
So, you who are anxious, pick up your Bible. Flip to Psalm 91, or Proverbs 3, or Isaiah 43. Put your worries away from you, meditate on the words from these passages of Scripture, and pray for peace that passes all understanding.
That is not to say everything can be resolved in one simple step. Hardship, suffering, and difficult circumstances are not something we can just wish away—but you do have the power to take your thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, and He has the power to bring you His peace. “For He Himself is our peace.” (Ephesians 2:14 NIV)