Tuesday, March 7, 2023

In Your Shoes Before You

In Your Shoes before You
by David Brenneman 

"Search me, God, and know my heart; Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way." Psalm 139:23-24 NASB 

"Search Me O God" - James E. Orr

Search me, O God, and know my heart today, Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.
I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin; Fulfill Thy word and make me pure within; Fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame;
Grant my desire to magnify Thy name.
Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine; Take all my will, my passion, self and pride; I now surrender, Lord, in me abide. O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; Send a revival, start the work in me;
Thy Word declares Thou wilt supply our need; For blessings now, O Lord, I humbly plead.

Was no coincidence that I saw that passage as the verse of today on Biblegateway and see that it was at the heart of the popular hymn by James Orr in 1936. 

It's oh so easy in this world today to be anxious and have anxiety as well.  They aren't necessarily the same.  
Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome...AND...a desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease.  
Anxious is defined as experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome...AND...it's wanting something very much, typically with a feeling of unease.

There's similarities and there's differences.  Psychiatry says that anxiety is a mental condition characterized by excessive apprehensiveness about real or perceived threats, typically leading to avoidance behaviors often to physical systems such as increased heart rate and muscle tension.

Are there healthy versions of this and if so what kind?  If not, what kind?  All out anxiety as I think Paul is addressing to the Philippians is about their day to day worry about things they cannot change.  I'm no expert on the subject.  By far I am not.  I sometimes have bouts of anxiety for no good reason whatsoever.  

Thinking on the night Jesus was betrayed, I do see a level of anxiety in the words of Jesus as He left those who went to pray with Him to pray to His Father in Heaven.  What we see is how Philippians 4:6-7 works.  As I wrote of myself in recent weeks, I've turned towards a concerted effort to be thankful in the midst of my anxiety.  From addressing nightmares borne in dreams to things happening in real life during the day.  A weird way to look at it I guess is using thankfulness as a weapon against such feelings.  Weilding it, as it were, as a sword against thoughts that aren't very productive.  

I also struggle with what I guess I call selective social anxiety.  It depends on whether or not I could or would be the center of unwanted attention...attention that makes me incredibly uncomfortable or has even the hint of perceived humiliation involved.  It's this thankfulness sword that has been helping with that.

I've found it honestly irritating that many in this world think that everyone must become leaders.  No, we're not.  Jesus said that if anyone honestly desires to lead like that must become the least and servant of all.  Just read that again today when reading in Mark about James and John who were asking to sit on His right and left in His kingdom.  Worldly leaders do nothing but puff themselves up.  They really do think more highly of themselves than they ought to.  I've honestly had my fill of those kinds of people in the last 30 years of my life.  Those kind look down on those who are under them and do not consider what's brought them this far in life.

It's not an easy thing to deal with at times when anxiety hits.  I have been collecting verses and what I call positive phrases to put in my MacCave...around my study in there.  It pains me to do so because I've typed most things in my life, but I have even gone to hand writing on index cards verses that I consider to be prayers for me.  Passages that God had stand out to me to remember.  I'm not one to be able to memorize the Scriptures like so many others can.  Set to music of some kind and I probably would be able to.  Like this hymn is that passage in Psalms.

When confronted by someone...I get hit with anxiety.  Not knowing how to think through such situations it sometimes pushes me to fight or flight mode.  Even in this...prayer is the answer. 

Failure often hits me with anxiety.  Knowing that I messed up and not necessarily knowing how to get out of what might come next or might not come next.

Often, and there's a apt modern response to it, Satan likes to remind me of my past....so I remind him of his future.  Jesus dropped the charges against me.

Heading into the crucifixion Jesus dealt with anxiety head on.  Indeed the Scriptures show us that in every way He's faced the emotions and feelings we've encountered in life.  I've known many in my life who easily appear to be stronger in their faith than myself...who often deal with anxiety.  Until we're perfected in Christ Jesus...likely we'll keep on dealing with it.  It is also possible Paul was dealing with it in light of his heavy concern for all the planted churches.  Of having to go personally to each to make sure of them walking in the truth.  That kind of pressure is anxiety...and what better kind of person to write of the solution than one who was going through it.  He was walking the same walk as the rest of us.

One of the phrases in front of me at this moment is just the word: pray.
Another is "be strong & courageous do not be terrified do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Another is "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
Another is simply "set your mind on things above".
A more recent one is Psalm 143:8-12.  Let me hear your lovingkindness in the morning. For I trust you. Teach me the way in which I should walk; for to you I lift up my soul. Deliver me, o Lord, from my enemies; I take refuge in you. Teach me to do your will, for You are my God; let your good Spirit lead me on level ground. For the sake of your Name, o Lord, revive me. In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble. And in your lovingkindness, cut off my enemies and destroy all who afflict my soul, for I am  your servant."

It's good to have Godly reminders when facing either being anxious or working through anxiety.  One, the other, or both, can often lead us towards feeling like we need to do works to compensate for having them before God...thinking those works will cause Him to do something about them.  The only work we need to do is to follow another Scripture:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.  

God knows your heart.  He knows what you're going through.   He's either allowed it to happen or is the architect of it happening.   Sometimes He allows our choices to proceed because He indeed will use it to cause His work in us to progress whereas otherwise it wouldn't have.  We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, that we might walk in them.  That's from the Bible too.

There's going to be times of feeling overwhelmed.  Jesus, when He knew it WAS His hour...got hit with the reality that in a short while He would be for the only time in history or in creation...separated from His Father.  It was through praying TO His Father that indeed we see Philippians 4:6-7's truth.   

I often don't have the answers to things in life.  While God's hardwired me to be able to troubleshoot a great many things...He's shown me that there are going to be some things that I just will not figure out.   That I need to trust Him in those moments...to not be anxious...to do what He did...and it will work out.

People might be relentless in being critical of us...which would cause anxiety...but the love of Jesus is even more relentless.  
There's always a movie quote to grab:  there's a difference between knowing the path...and walking it.
Another way to look at it is knowing you have the key and using it.

Micah 6:8 NASB "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

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