A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV
I love this particular verse. I am convinced that God already knows everything about me. He already knows my heart and mind. The searching and testing is not for His benefit, it is for mine.
Quite often we are clueless about the things that drive us. We have forgotten things that have happened to us in our formative years that have shaped us and caused us to draw various conclusions. We have been hurt, disappointed and left with old scars. Some have healed and some may still fester and be slowly poisoning us. God knows the things that push our buttons and cause us to react from a position of the past pain and fear rather than by faith. This testing is for our benefit that we might know our selves better.
I recently found myself battling a lot of anxious thoughts that would wake me up in the night in a panic. I would have to pray and quiet myself. Is there something I need to repent of that I have not done right? Is this an attack of the enemy that I should stand against. In Jesus name I would bind fear and anxiety you my not harass me. When I did not know how to pray I would pray in my prayer language allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through me. Generally my anxiety centers around my inadequacies. In this case a lot of it was because I am not aI am often a bit anxious when driving in an unfamiliar area. I don't like getting lost or being late the fear of both cause me anxiety. In those situations I have to choose to trust the Lord to lead me, guide me and protect me. I have to remember that I am his agent and ambassador. He promises to lead us even through the valley of death in Psalm 23.
When my son had to have surgery recently I battled a lot of anxiety. He was relaxed and teased me that I was more worried than he was. I have had an irrational fear of loosing him since he was a baby that pops up from time to time. I have had to master that fear realizing that my bouncy boy likes to do things like ride skate boards and bikes down icy hills. I can't make him live in a big plastic bubble. Life is full of pain, I can teach him to make wise choices and to not be reckless. In the end I have to allow him to live, know that I will be there to comfort him when he does get hurt. He still does not regret riding down that hill - it was fun til he crashed. I am very uncomfortable in the world of hospitals. I have spent very little time in them for me it is a foreign place. We tend to fear the unknown and the things we don't understand. I was thankful that the people at Shriners were wonderful to explain every little thing they were doing along the way. They took amazing care of my son. I still had to acknowledge my fears and give them to the Lord. I had to be honest to allow the Lord to examine my anxious thoughts and help me to see where I was struggling to trust him. I had to remember that He loved me and my son and was working on our behalf in this entire situation.
My church has been recently talking with a big church that wants to rent our building on Sunday nights. I have found in the process that I have some big church buttons. I have had to pray and divide what is old buttons and what is the Holy Spirit trying to help me know the Lord's will. I also had to trust that God would work through the governmental structure that we have set up as a church. In the end it was not my decision to make. I have a number of concerns regarding the decision that was being made and I did my best to voice them. God works through our choices and I have to trust that he will work through this one as well. My point is that this process revealed to me some old buttons. This big church using our building will cause me to have to face a number of other buttons if they are successful. I don't want to be all sour grapes about it but I've got some issues regarding why does this thing get blessed and another struggle. I know going into this season that God will use this to do a deeper healing in my heart. I have spent most of my adult life working in churches. I have seen some abuse from the hands of well meaning church people and from carnal people who made their way into leadership because of their money or status in the community. Honestly I like the leaders from the big church that I have met and I hope they do well and reach people for the kingdom. In the end I choose to trust Jesus in this matter.
My point in this is that anxiety and fear tend to paralyze us. God does not want us paralyzed he wants us to trust Him to lead us through. We have to make a decision to look at it from God's perspective. Perhaps there is a need for caution and heightened awareness. My concerns should cause me to pray and seek the Lord. I need to realize that some of the anxiety and fear is the work of the enemy to keep me from the things God would have me to move through by faith and trust in Him. The enemy likes to bring up the old hurts and pains. The enemy would like to remind me of my every inadequacy and failure. I need to remember who I am in Christ and use the spiritual tools and power I have at my disposal.
So here are the things that I generally try to remember to do when anxiety, fear or stress try to overwhelm me.
S - Seek the Lord
T - Tell Him my concerns
R - Receive His council and his peace. Repent if necessary.
E - Expel the enemy.
S - Step forward in faith
S - Sing His Praise