Are you going through something right now and feel like you’re rocking back and forth with fear, anxiety, butterflies, and maybe a touch or two of depression? You aren’t alone. I think even the most “well-kept-together” of us fall into that category. And not just once. It happens time and time again. We all have a choice when those dreaded passengers board the ships of turmoil. We can either choose to let those things leave us paralyzed by their capabilities, or we can capture those things by faith and surrender them to the Calmer of the Storm in exchange for His peace that passes all understanding. Walking from faith to faith is a familiar term in the world of Christendom. But we are not resigned to a pattern of one wild leap to another and staying in a state of constant anxiety. No, there’s something huge that accompanies the steps, leaps, and breaths from faith to faith. Peace.
I have an affinity for the Peanuts’ strip which poises the ever-worrisome Charlie Brown with the little cartoon bubble above his head, and reads, “Even my anxieties have anxiety.” The truth is, we’ve all been able to relate to that not so fictional character.
To the almost college grad, I bet you may have found yourself worrying about what you’re going to do next. You’ve sent your resumes all across the country and are waiting to hear back about where it is you’ll land. Wait. You have no money. How are you going to get to these interviews if you get called? Wait. What are you going to wear? Wait. What if they check your facebook page and see something they don’t like? Wait. What if you don’t know how to answer your interview questions. Wait. What if you decide to take one of those jobs, but there’s a better one out there. Wait. Where are you going to live? Wait. What if your future spouse was in the town of the job you declined? Wait. What if you don’t even get a job in your field. Wait. Then how will you pay back all those student loans? Wait. Should you just go to grad school to delay the inevitable repayment of loans?
To the soon to be bride and groom. Maybe you’ve your thought process has gone a little like this. Oh man, which invitations should you choose? There are so many beautiful options. And this is going to be a family heirloom treasure one day. What if you mail them and find one you like better? All the invitations are out. Wait. What if no one comes and you’ve wasted all that money on the big reception hall you just booked? Wait. What if the groom gets cold feet and you’re left jilted at the altar? What if the bride is wearing tennis shoes like that movie and runs away? Wait. What if he or she doesn’t and you are a blubbering mess when you get to the front, unable to keep yourself composed during the vows. Wait. What if you don’t end up being the spouse you promised in your vows? Wait. What if your kids grow up to rebel against you and God? Wait. What if you never have kids? Wait. What will you do if your dress has a wardrobe malfunction? What will you do if your tux pants turn out to be high waters. What if the best man looses the ring? Wait. What if you chose the wrong dress and there’s a better one out there?
To the parents of newborns. You’ve probably got a lot of things going through your sleep-deprived mind. Awe, your baby is so tiny. And cute. Wait. What if you accidentally drop them? Where’s the baby monitor. Oh, there it is. Wait, what if you fall asleep and miss something critical while they sleep? Oh shew, they are a little bigger now. Wait. They can walk now. What if they get into mischief? Wait. What if they get into mischief when they are in their teens? Oh my goodness. What kind of a parent are you? What if your kid grows up to hate you? What if they grow too dependent on you? Wait. What if they go to the wrong college? Wait. What if they don’t even go. Wait. What if they end up being a bum on the street and you have no way to help them? Wait. What are they eating over there in the corner of the playroom? Playdough? Not again…
Life is full of “what-if’s” and “waits.” Each one of these can scare you out of your mind if you dwell on them too long. Things escalate quickly when you play the “Wait a second, what –if” game. You go from focusing on conquering one battle to freaking out about how things could wind up if you make one false move.
You are supposed to make decisions. And your decisions hold great responsibility. They hold great consequences, both good and bad. You are in control of what you will choose to do. But you are not in control of the Universe.
But allow me to remind you of another name He is known by: The Prince of Peace.
You don’t have to carry the weight of the world when you are faced with a challenging predicament. You just have to practice capturing.
You’ve got to be fiercer than a pirate trying to commandeer a ship.
I know. You’re not naturally good at that. I’m not either. We need help, don’t we?
Each step of life requires faith. Otherwise, we are destined to ultimately fail.
We don’t walk by sight. We walk by faith. Even the godless put their faith in something. All we walk from faith to faith. The difference in the end results rests in the object of our faith.
For those who put their faith in God, there is a reward. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
But what is this reward?
Well, I started really learning about this reward some years ago. It was during the time my dad got sick, suffered by being eaten alive with cancer, and died. I didn’t get it. I still don’t fully get it.
He was a Godly man, proclaiming the truth of the gospel diligently. He was in his second term as the state leader of our denomination’s convention. He was honest. He was upright. He was an all around wonderful guy. He was my dad.
We were on a roller coaster of “wait, what if’s…” during that time. That was the blindest I have ever felt in my life. But I wasn’t walking by sight.
It didn’t make sense why God would allow him to be stricken with cancer and die in the height of ministry and parenting. But He did.
During this time, I came across a poem by Corrie Ten Boom called, “Life is But the Weaving.”
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
As time has gone by, I’ve caught glimpses of the “why” of it it all… not fully, but little sections of it. It’s required stepping back a bit. It’s required putting on my faith glasses and knowing that I’m only seeing the unraveled threads on the backside of the tapestry many times. But the lenses that allow me to view the workings of the tapestry tell me there’s more. And with that, comes peace.
My thoughts are prone to run wild just like anybody else’s. But I’ve learned the power of capturing my thoughts.
“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 NIV
When I capture my thoughts, I bring them into the captivation of freedom. It’s not a captivity that holds me in chains. It’s a captivating peace that liberates me.
Christ Jesus has promised to keep me in perfect peace if my mind is stayed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
When my eyes are fixed on Jesus, He makes the picture look more complete one piece at a time…rather one peace at a time.
Just as we walk from faith to faith, we walk from peace to peace with each foot that follows the other.
Friend, I don’t know what your ‘wait, what if’s’ are. But I do know, you’re bound to face them over and over through life.
You can’t know what the answer is to those questions.
But you can know peace through faith in Jesus Christ.
I’ve got overall peace because Jesus is my rock and salvation. He does not change. He has promised to fulfill my hope and to let me dwell in eternity with Him. He has promised to never leave me or forsake me in this life or the next.
But sometimes, I have anxiety. I know you do too. Sometimes there are very long seasons of anxiety in life. Other times, there are quick flashes of it. For me, I often feel like I’m playing an unending game of “Whack a Mole.” You get one thing ‘under control’ and another anxiety causing issue pops right back up to test the power of your swing.
You can have peace in your salvation through Jesus but still struggle with anxiety because you are not perfect yet. No. You are in the process of being made perfect.
But each time anxiety rears it’s ugly head, you’ve got the opportunity to let the beauty of God’s truth transform and renew your mind through Christ Jesus and swing a hammer far more powerful than one your arms could hold alone to knock it out. Through faith and by the power of His Holy Spirit, your run away thoughts full of ‘wait, what-if’s’ can be captured and exchanged for the peace that passes all understanding by the captivating liberty of Christ.
BECAUSE CHRIST HAS OVERCOME!
Friend, keep on walking from faith to faith. But do it through faith in Jesus, not in useless, hopeless things.
Yes, keep on walking from faith to faith. And with each transformed thought that precedes each step, you’re bound certainly to walk from peace to peace.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV