Philippians 4:6-7 says:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Be anxious for nothing. How is that even possible?
The plane ride over the mountains four days earlier loomed in my mind as I stepped up the stairs of the little horizon jet. It had been bumpy, and made me queasy. I prayed that this ride wouldn’t make me airsick. Thankfully, I got to ride on this plane with two friends, so I wasn’t worried. But as the plane started and we began to climb in the air, my peace quickly left.
My seat mate jumped out of her seat with each bump and even though we had only known each other for four days, we clung to each other. The quick flight to Seattle only lasts about a half hour, so as soon as we hit cruising altitude, we began to descend. And every time the plane dropped in altitude, the jerks and bumps grew more violent. I began to pray out loud, going back and forth between saying, “peace, Jesus, peace, peace, peace,” and singing bits of worship songs. It’s all kind of a blur.
By the time we could see the streets, houses, and trees of Seattle, we were being thrown around the plane. The ground kept getting closer, and my heart started to pound against my chest, as though it could break out and leave me behind. As we began to land, I overheard the woman behind me say, “I fly this four times a month, I’ve never experienced anything like this!” Everyone was afraid, but eerily quiet. The runway appeared out the window, and then there was a collective intake of breath, a brace for impact.
The landing was rough, I felt like we were all liquids inside of a bottle being shaken, but then it straightened, and all was still for a moment. Then the wind slammed the plane and it made sense. It was incredibly windy outside. Great, I thought.
I had two more flights before I got home. I wasn’t looking forward to more turbulence.
A few hours later, I boarded the flight from hell. The entire flight, from Seattle to Chicago, we experienced moderate to severe turbulence. Five hours of a slow build up of anxiety in my chest. Pressure, a physical response to the chemicals being constantly released by my panicking mind, rested on me. I could feel it in my joints, in my stomach, in my heart. I wanted to cry but honestly, I was too scared. I reminded myself that the pilots know what they are doing, and that they have things under control. That our safety was their primary concern, always. I reminded myself that even if I died, I would be with Jesus. I found no comfort in any of those things, but I continued to pray and declare my love for Jesus, to declare peace over my mind. It was the only thing I could think of to do. Just listen to worship music and pray pray pray.
By the time we were coming in for a landing in Chicago, I thought I was going to be sick. I could tell the pilot was trying to line up the plane with the runway, but the wind was gusting and moving the plane. We didn’t have a good angle. He kept having to swerve to correct the course, and the ground was rushing toward us, rushing rushing rushing. So close now, speeding by.
I couldn’t look away. I had to watch out the window. There…there was the runway, just below us, the lights off in the distance. It was so dark, the ground was wet, it was raining sideways.
JOLT. The initial contact with the ground sent us back in the air. The second contact sent us spinning sideways, like a rock skipping on water. The suddenly, everything was safe, the danger was gone, and the plane erupted with applause and cheering. I was too stunned to put my hands together. I had been clinging to the seat in front of me so long, my hands were sore. The pilot apologized for the rough ride over the intercom, saying this was the worst he had experienced in his 21 years of being a pilot. This made me feel better, until I realized that I wasn’t done flying.
I walked through the airport in a daze. I had an hour before I was going to fly back through everything I just went through to get home. The panic continued to build. I’m not accustomed to anxiety…I usually have a pretty good idea of how to combat it, but I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do, I trusted God, but I did not want to do it again. It was the worst kind of dread. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to cry. I wanted to rent a car and drive away.
I did the only thing I could do. I called someone I trusted and asked them to pray over me. For 25 minutes, I just sat in the airport crying and let the peace of God wash over me. Then I boarded the next flight. This time, the peace was there, and even though my heart still jumped with every bump, the fear was gone. An hour later, I made it home safely.
In Him we have EVERYTHING we need. Breath and life, provision and power, joy and love.
When we start to look to other sources for the things our hearts are longing for and for the basic needs we have, we are telling Jesus that He is not enough. We are telling Him that we can do it on our own, and that we know better than He does. We tell Him that we can’t see far enough ahead to trust Him. Therefore, we don’t trust Him. Our Father, our Creator, our Savior.
Anxiety creeps in when we open the doors of our minds and souls to the world and to the enemy. It makes sense, if you look at it objectively. Anxiety is not from God, so where does it come from? If I am a new creation in Christ, it’s not coming from me. There’s only one other source, especially for things that destroy.
Through my experience, I realized that I had not been spending the time with Him that my spirit was craving. I left myself out to dry because there wasn’t much I could do about it in my moment of panic.
Be anxious for nothing. Why does this feel so impossible? It’s something we all experience, and so so many of us struggle with it on a daily basis. Struggle to just survive.
But it is possible. See, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. AND HE DID. When He died on the cross, He took every work of the enemy in our lives to the grave and buried it deep. He drug the devil to the pit and then He defeated the devil’s biggest work of all. Death. Jesus’s own death. No big. Just rise from the dead. For the creator of all life, it was the hardest, easiest thing in the world. In this moment, every work of the devil for all of eternity was defeated.
1 John 3:8 says “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” It doesn’t say He will defeat the enemy someday. It says the reason Jesus came was to destroy sin. He came to defeat, and He did.
So that sin that is ruling your life? Those lies that live rooted like weeds in your mind? Those are the works of the devil. And the only power it has over you is the power you give it. I had an open door….fear. It’s still something I am in the process of letting go. Fear of dying, fear of leaving my family. Fear of leaving things unfinished. I let it in, and I didn’t ask God to take that fear and replace it with His love because I didn’t want to give it up. Even in a panicked, uncertain situation, I didn’t want to give it up.
After that harrowing experience, I never want to let anxiety in like that again. So I am choosing to let go of my fear, and trust that what God has for me is infinitely greater and better, even if it is unknown.
If you believe Jesus died for your sins and rose from the grave and lives in you, then you are a NEW CREATION. Jesus lives in you, you have the power of the Holy Spirit at hand. You have a loving Father in heaven who is ALWAYS GOOD and who is always working for YOUR GOOD. For more glory to be released, for His love to cover the earth. We have to trust Him!
So there are 3 pieces to this puzzle of how to live an anxiety-free life. Each piece is found in Philippians 4:6-7.
The command is to be anxious for nothing. So first and foremost, we have to realize that it is possible. Believe that it is possible.
The second piece is to bring EVERYTHING before the Lord. To meet with Him, to have conversations with Him. This comes from a daily walk with Him. It’s not something that comes easily. There are sacrifices involved. We can’t be of the world and of God…intimacy with God only comes when we give up everything of this world and grab ahold of Him with a desperate heart. A heart that knows that without Him, we would be lost. When we position our hearts to be thankful for what we have, and ask for the things we don’t, always staying in communication, we are telling Him that we trust Him to provide for every single need. Whether it’s a heart-need, an emotional need, or a physical one. He always provides.
The third piece is that when we trust Him and come before Him with a grateful heart KNOWING that He always provides and is always good, His peace will surround our hearts and minds and GUARD them. This is what keeps anxiety from getting back in. This is what keeps worries from circling our minds like wolves. God’s peace is a force to be reckoned with. It’s not sunshine and rainbows, it’s saying, “Be Still” to the raging storm and watching the clouds dissipate. The roaring lion is all noise, there’s not danger, but it can feel like it.
We can’t afford to stay like children. As children, we hear the thunder, and we become full of fear. The sound is so terrifying, it shakes the house, and all of the possibilities of what that sound could represent fills our minds and we become paralyzed.
This is what anxiety does.
As we grow up, we realize that thunder is just sound, there’s no danger in it. It can make us jump, but logically, there is no reason to fear it. No reason to be paralyzed. This is freeing.
The same is true in life. If anxiety has a hold on you, it’s because you are not seeing things from a heavenly perspective. God is in control, He is totally trustworthy, and the roars of the devil can’t hurt you unless you walk right into his gaping mouth and scream, “EAT ME NOW!”
Maturity in your walk with Christ comes when you take the time to develop a relationship with Him. This is the only way to go deeper, and it’s the only true way to freedom from anxiety. There are a lot of helpful tricks and tips that are fantastic for those moments of crisis, but real freedom comes from intimacy and a security in knowing God’s character.
God, You are everywhere. You are fully powerful, able to do any and all things. You are always good, always faithful, and You always provide for me. You give life, and You love me more than I can even begin to understand. My life is precious to You, and every thought and decision and minute bit of my life matters to You. So Lord, I trust You. Release Your peace in my mind, in my heart, in my life. I want to come to You with everything, help me to walk in this. Help me to remember that I need You and that I want more of You in my life. I want to love You with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Thank You for Your peace and comfort, for Your presence with me. In Your holy name I pray, AMEN.