Friday, February 13, 2015

Overcoming Anxiety

One of the sweet folks the Lord has given me recently, to walk life and in faith with, is Audrey.  She's been through a lot these last few years and recently, she fought and beat cancer!  But the victory is so fresh, it feels unstable.  I've been there, I know that feeling.  I've been trying to help her understand what life on the other side looks like.  But I know her ministry will be revealed soon after this time of trial and preparation is complete.

She is so hungry for Jesus; it is invigorating for my own faith. This week has been walking through
the steps the Lord gives us in His word to help us no longer be slaves to fear and worry.  It is well-timed because today, Audrey had follow up testing to confirm the status of her remission.  It is the well-known SCAN-XIETY.  But this works in any fearful/fretful/worrisome situation. 

These steps are found in James 4:7-10,

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. (The MSG)

Our goal has been to break the hold of the endless mental loop worry creates.  You get stuck in a rut, going around in circles.  The path of anxiety you walk builds up walls so high in your mind and heart, they eventually lock you inside.  You get to a point where it seems impossible to imagine ever scaling those walls, so you start to make yourself comfortable there.  When you do that, you will never get out.  Indeed, without the Lord's intervention, you never will.

When it comes the enemy's desire to keep you locked up in your prison of anxiety, if you ever want to get out; you must know your enemy.  The enemy of your soul wants you to be scared.  He wants you to think the worst.  He wants you to think you are sick, worthless, poor, insecure, unsettled, incapable to be used of God.  He wants you to think no change will ever happen because you are not worth of God's time to change.  He wants you to think God has more important things to do than help you.

Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy any peace, security, joy and faith you have in Christ, by any means necessary.  But if that aim is not achieved, he can try to make your life miserable, keeping you busy and tired so you don't have time to seek God's peace. The trick here is THE VICTORY IS ALREADY WON.  But if the enemy can convince you otherwise, he will chalk that up as a win.  As long as you are focused on anything but God, satan wins.

Satan can't read our thoughts, but his power to tempt us comes from his extensive knowledge of the fallen human condition and his never-ending study of us as individuals.  He's studied you, he knows your weaknesses and he is going to play them up by using all sorts of lies and illusions to encourage you to fall into worry and be anxious.

The tide begins to turn when we realize the chink in the enemy's armor: your freewill to choose whether or not to agree you agree with God or with satan.  You can fix your mind on Christ and the things of His Kingdom (see Philippians 4:8) and (over time) reject what the enemy is trying to do in such a way that you don't have to go back to that well-worn path of anxiety.  

You do that most effectively by talking to Jesus more than you talk to anyone else (including yourself).  As Audrey said the other day, all we can do for each other is talk about the situation.

Only Jesus can actually do something about it.

I know this works because I used to have full-blown panic attacks when it came to ANY additional testing, during and after Sophia's treatment.  But I don't anymore, haven't for well over year (see my post regarding when I found that freedom here.)

In working through this with Audrey, I tried to articulate what I know - Scripture really does work when you apply it to your life.  You can take your thoughts captive, they do not have to own you.  So, here is what I know.....

Step 1: Examine every anxious thought.  Put your thoughts under the microscope of the Light of Christ.  By this litmus test, you will discover those worry-filled thoughts are not from the Lord, especially when the message of them seeks to drag you down (or keep you down).  The Lord doesn't do that!  .Confess - give those thoughts to Jesus to destroy, it's not your job to put them away.  You can't win this fight with willpower.  You can pray: "Lord, here are these thoughts. I don't want them anymore. Help me, Oh God, to think Your kind of thoughts about myself and my situation." (see Philippians 4:8 for a list of God's kind of thoughts.)

Step 2: Resist the temptation to dwell on or give into those thoughts! Jesus' whole mission in life was to build people up and not leave them the way He found them.  He wanted good, better, best - not worst.  So, resist the devil's scheme to make you think bad to worse.  Not by your own power, but by calling on the God of Heaven - the Holy Spirit - to do all things through Christ, including be courageous (see Joshua 1:6-9)

Step 3: Keep resisting.  Let the devil know, in the name of Christ, he can't read your mind and he can no longer have access to the pattern those thoughts create.  He will not convince you any of this negativity will do any good.  He can take it up with Jesus!

Step 4: Make sure you keep clean hands and a pure heart.  Confess any willful/known sin, receive the forgiveness and keep moving forward.  Don't let the enemy try to hold you back with guilt and shame!

Step 5: Praise God!!  This maybe the most important step to keep yourself sealed up from the enemy's schemes.  Praise is how you stand firm in your faith.  Psalm 103 never goes out of style.  Crank up the praise and worship music.  Declare the goodness of our God who is worthy to be praised!  There is no mood alter-er better than praising God, I guarantee it....and no hangovers either.

Everyone deals with fear and anxiety, but we can choose a better way - THE WAY.  Jesus showed us that.  He is The Way.  When we follow His example, we will win.  Satan and his minions will flee when we apply the force of our faith in Christ - holding up our shields and swinging the Sword of the Spirit - the Word of God.

Joyce Meyer has an excellent confessional "Letter to Fear," I've included it here:

I'm more than delighted to report Audrey's efforts were rewarded....she got her results back and she remains CANCER FREE!!

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