The following is the last chapter of a book titled, “Overcoming Worry Anxiety and Fear.” It is a very well-written book, and it has made a tremendous impact in my journey. Not only is it packed with info pertaining to anxiety, worry and fear, and the devastating grip it can have on people, it is also Christian-based. I am posting the last chapter. It is just a taste.
The first part is talking about anchoring activites. These anchoring activities are little assignments that could be utilized at the end of each of the previous chapters. Disreguard the beginning of the content, and chew on the rest. I hope that you find the message as helpful and meaningful as I did. The title is exactly what led me to read it, especially after living with all three for several decades. Blessings to all.
“This final chapter is going to be a little different. Instead of an anchoring activity at the end, I want you to think of the entire chapter as an anchoring activity. I want you to commit to anchoring your life in the bedrock of God. You have been anchoring your life in the sandy shoals of your anxieties, worries, fears, and concerns. As a result, you’ve been tossed about by the waves of life, unanchored and often adrift. Your anxieties have been in charge, and you have not. This mirrors what the apostle Paul talks about in Ephesians 4 when he speaks about the benefits of spiritual maturity or, you could say, the benefits of being spiritually anchored. He says, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (v.14). If I’ve tried to do anything in this book, it is to help you see how much your anxieties consist of deceitful scheming. They are not based in reality, and they do not teach you the truth. They do not grant you freedom in your life; on the contrary, they enslave you. By clinging to them, you are not protecting or enhancing or guarding your life; you’re conceding it, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, choice by choice. This is not the life God desires for you to live. You have been placing your trust and faith in your own fears. When they speak, you listen intently and act accordingly. Even when faced with evidence to the contrary, your faith lies with them. When you trust in your fears, you doubt God. When you align yourself with your fears, you move yourself farther away from God. When you cling to your fears, you cling to your own perverted sense of control. There is only one way to claim true control over your life: you have to surrender it. You’ve already been surrendering your life to the false reality of your fears; I implore you to surrender your life, instead, fully to God. Eugene Peterson in the Message puts the concept this way: getting down on your knees is the only way to get back on your feet (James 4:10).
I’ve said it before in several ways, but I want to say it again plainly: you have grown comfortable in your fears and anxieties. In a perverse way, they have become the known, the predictable, your comfort zone of behavior and expectation. To use a phrase from the book of Job, your anxieties and fears are “miserable comforts” but comforts still. You are more comfortable giving them control over your life than you are giving your life over to God. You’ve allowed your anxieties to provide you with meager, miserable comforts instead of claiming the true comfort promised by your loving Father. Listen to him argue passionately in his own defense in Isaiah 51: I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor? The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread. For I am the Lord your God, who churns up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name. I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, “You are my people.” (vv. 12–16) Do not take meager, miserable comfort any longer in your anxieties; choose to believe God when he says, “I, even I, am he who comforts you.” He is stronger, more powerful, and mightier than the fears and anxieties that oppress you, no matter what lies those fears and anxieties tell you. There is, of course, another part of this: you must allow yourself to be comforted by God; you must accept his comfort. To do this, you need to reject the tie—the relationship—you have with your anxieties. They’ve become so much a part of you that to reject them can seem tantamount to rejecting who you are. Again, in a perverse and paradoxical way, you’ve developed a relationship, a friendship, with your anxieties that must be broken. This friendship is not grounded in the spiritual realm, in God-reality, as it says in the Message; it is grounded firmly in the perceptions and deceptions, in the lies, of this world. Tying yourself to your anxieties ties you to this world. To go with God, you have to give up these ties to the world, this relationship you have with your anxieties. James 4:4–10 clearly shows you can’t have it both ways. The world and God are in direct competition with each other for your heart and mind. You already know what happens to your heart and mind when the world—when your anxieties and fears—are ascendant. Day by day, step by step, choice by choice, begin to shift your allegiance from the world of your anxieties, worries, and fears to God.
Your relationship with your fears and anxieties damages and interferes with your relationship with God. It sabotages your relationships with other people. It also decimates another vital relationship: your relationship with self. Your fears and anxieties turn your own body and mind against you as you struggle to manage their devastating emotional terrors and debilitating physical assaults. They make you doubt yourself; they make you doubt your sanity; they make you doubt your health; they make you doubt your life. What you do is never enough. The steps you take are never sufficient. Again, these are the black-and-white false absolutes of your anxieties. God, however, comes with a different set of absolutes where you are concerned: He loves you (Deut. 23:5). He says you are his precious child (1John 3:1). He wants you to be with him always (John 3:16). He knows who you are and loves you still (Ps. 139:1). His love for you will never fail (1Cor. 13:8). Nothing can snatch you from his hand (John 10:28–29). He does not want you to live in fear (Ps. 27:1). God knows and accepts who you are. To change and grow as a person, you need to know and accept yourself. This puts you on the same page with God so together you can turn to the next page of your life—a page where fear is removed, a page where joy and peace are restored.
Anxieties scream that the worst that could happen will. They are firmly rooted in the negative, in the pessimistic. The world of worry is a glass that is perpetually not only half empty but draining out all the time. In such a world, there is little room or ability to perceive a concept as astonishingly optimistic and positive as grace. I’ve heard the grace of God explained as unmerited favor. It’s not something that can be earned; it is a divine gift. Grace operates in a world where the best that could possibly happen does. It is firmly rooted in the positive, in the optimistic. The world of grace is not the world of the empty glass; it is the world of a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, poured into your lap (Luke 6:38). Grace is a world of amazing abundance that is given as a gift and not as a result of works (Rom. 11). You can’t lose grace; you can only reject it. As you continue to work through overcoming your fears, taming your anxieties, and deflating your worries, allow God—his love, his promises, and his grace—to fill up all those created vacancies. As you turn away from your relationship with your fears, turn toward a deeper and stronger relationship with God. Instead of filling your mind with the content of your concerns, fill it with the promises and passionate love of your heavenly Father. I challenge you to get to know God better. Think of all the time, energy, and resources you have devoted to thinking about, worrying about, examining, and fighting against your anxieties and fears. Turn that time over to God, to getting to know him, to reading his Word, to prayer, to meditating on his character and divine nature. This is time well spent. This is productive, uplifting, renewing time. Become as intimately aware of the presence of God’s Spirit in your life as you were of the presence of your anxieties. Allow the greatness of God to outshine those pale shadows.
Don’t Give Up
The only way to ensure defeat is to give up, so don’t. Changing from a life devoted to anxieties, pessimism, and distrust to a life devoted to optimism, hope, and joy takes time and effort. It is a journey, a journey from the dark into the light. This journey is a familiar one that began on the very first day. Genesis 1:5 says, “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” This divine progression from evening to morning, from darkness to light, was recently pointed out to me. The world says that a day begins in the morning and ends at night—that we go from light into darkness every day. I guess, from the world’s point of view, that’s appropriate. God, however, turns this around. His design moves things from darkness to light, so a day starts in the evening but ends in the morning. I like that. Your life of fear, of darkness, is designed by God to move to a life of hope, of light. So don’t give up when things seem dark; you just haven’t reached God’s promised dawn yet. Keep moving, keep hoping, keep believing, keep choosing to trust and put your faith in God. As you do, you’ll begin to notice your world lightening around the edges with the emergence of a glorious morning. God is really good with glorious mornings. Think of a particular morning in the city of Jerusalem two thousand years ago. A woman named Mary went to a tomb, fully prepared to tend to a broken and lifeless body. God, however, had something else in the works. God, through his power, turned that death into life. What was deemed unstoppable, inevitable, an absolute fact of death, turned out not to be so. The black-and-white thinking of the world was proven wrong, again. The naysayers were wrong; the faithful were right. God is faithful. Be faithful yourself and keep allowing him to transform your doubts into faith, your fears into an opportunity to trust. Listen to God more than your fears. Keep turning down their volume every chance you get and turn up the voice of God. As I told you before, real change is possible; I see it all the time. I guess that’s another way of saying I see God all the time. He’s working in my life. I see him working in the lives of others. And I have faith he is able to work in yours.”