Overcoming Anxiety 03
Before we dig much deeper into our journey to overcome anxiety, let’s take a brief detour. Most people want a “quick” solution when they experience pain, frustration and anxiety. This is normal, and typical for our human condition.
However, the biblical standard for finding wholeness and change does not promise an immediate solution. Yes, there are verses that say, “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation….” And other verses seem to go along with that kind of thought as well.
But for Scripture to really affect us on the deepest level… the level that results in transformation… we need to allow it to seep deeply into our spiritual “pores” and to truly become part of our mindset and makeup.
This does not happen because we simply read or hear the Bible. While it is certainly far better to read the Bible and hear the Word of God than NOT to do so, we all know people (probably ourselves) who have read and heard… maybe repeatedly and for long periods… and yet frustratingly, the change seems reluctant to come.
We are missing… something. What is it? Obedience may be one answer. “Be not only hearers of the Word, but be doers also,” James admonishes us. But it may be more than that. I am really learning, as I enter my forty-third year of walking with Jesus (as of Dec 26), that the missing ingredient is meditation.
Sometimes we approach the Bible like a child approaches a plate of food at a buffet. He has a lot of stuff on the plate before him, and item by item he tastes it… maybe he doesn’t like it… and spits it out. Then he goes on to the next item, and the next.
Now that’s no doubt a distasteful image, but follow me here. We do the very same thing with God’s Word. We “taste and see that the Lord is good” but we don’t keep it “in our mouth” long enough for it to assimilate into our blood, into our bodies… to become part of us.
This is a tough assignment for a fast-food, microwave-meal society. We are conditioned to quick… everything. So when someone says, “you’re going to have to sit with this awhile… let it soak in,” we balk. We don’t have time! We have other “food” to taste!
I fear, in our instant gratification orientation, that we won’t give God’s Word time to “seep into our skin” and become part of who we are! The Psalms begin with a verse that talk about the blessed life. It says of the blessed person “…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in that law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2).
Now go back and notice two things: First, “he meditates.” That means, “he hangs on to it long enough for it to make a difference.” This isn’t just Scripture memorization. That is also a fine discipline to develop, but mentally gathering and retaining information ALSO is not a guarantee it will transform us. We can, in the course of the day, think very little about what we memorized that morning.
Notice, “he meditates… day and night.” There’s the key. The secret. It’s letting “the Lord’s instruction,” the truth of God’s Word sink into our souls “day and night.” To meditate in Hebrew is the word used for an animal chewing a cud of grass or hay… slowly, over and over cows and camels, rabbits and other “critters” chew their food until it dissolves into their body.
That’s what we’re missing, I believe. The concepts we are studying… thinking about… considering in writing and hearing… MUST be meditated on for any value to result.
So here’s the trade. Your brain is always busy with something. It’s chewing on junk food or it’s chewing on something that brings value. You control the input. You select the channel. You decide whether your mind will be renewed resulting in new action… or whether you will allow it to return to the same thoughts… that got you where you are now!
How much time would you be willing to spend thinking about what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4-9? Ten minutes? Thirty? An hour? How much time do you spend in anxious thoughts that torment and distract you and steal your peace? Do an evaluation… log your time. How much better to lay awake for thirty or forty minutes meditating on “the peace of God that passes understanding” than on tormenting “what if’s?” At the end of the day, it’s your decision! How blessed is the man… who meditates day and night upon God’s Word!