It is a familiar pattern now, almost laughable in its predictability. I have become quite adept at laying my anxiety before the Lord. I give Him my worries, fears, and regrets- my sin, shame and concerns. I lay it before Him in exchange for His forgiveness and peace. I rest within His grace and all is calm within my burdened heart… for a moment or two.
The trick is learning how to remain in His peace. While skilled at the process of “casting my anxieties,” I have yet to master the art of “letting go.” I continually return to the foot of the cross… not to stand within its shadow of grace and peace, but to pick up what I had once discarded. I choose to carry the old baggage of fear, shame, and anxiety. I bend my ear to listen to broken records of insecurity and doubt. I return to worry and burden myself with what is no longer mine to carry. I would venture to guess that I am not the only one.
Long before modern psychology, the apostle Paul understood the influence one’s thoughts have upon their life and behavior. Consider his words.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
“The mind of sinful mind is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:3-6
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2
Furthermore, Paul understood that simply letting go of anxiety is not enough. He conveys the importance of replacing anxious thoughts with messages of truth and wisdom.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” Philippians 4:6-8
Most things of this world fall vastly short of such virtue. For who is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy other than Christ? Only He possesses such qualities in full measure. When we shift our focus from ourselves and place it on the character of Christ, we arm ourselves against the anxious thought that consume our strength and spirit.
“Set your mind on things above, not earthly things.” Colossians 3:2
Here I must pause as I stand convicted. Even in this moment, a specific worry consumes my thoughts. It is not baseless anxiety, but one borne of genuine concern and threat… one that I have struggled to let go of for years. How quickly it rises to the forefront of my mind and how quickly it distracts me from all that is good and right.
And so the process begins again.
Prayer… petition… thanksgiving… the making of requests and the resting in peace…
and most importantly, a renewed focus on Him who saves.
It is time to let go.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7