The "musts" are consuming and controlling my meant-for-sleep-time this morning. As I stayed in bed, I created more "musts." I "must" get this under control. I "must" get back to sleep, because I "must" be up early. I simply jumped from one "must" to another. The truth is that I can do nothing about these things in the middle of the night. However, the "musts" are addictive when it's dark and there are no distractions. The "musts" are addictive...and toxic. The "musts" drive me away from a mind of peace that the Lord intends for His followers: the peace that passes all understanding and keeps my heart settled on him. The "musts" reduce me to a state of anxiety.
Right. The cure, then, according to the Apostle Paul is LIGHT in the form of gratitude, prayer, and a think list (see Philippians 4:4-8). I know this. However, I'm reading in the book of Matthew for my LIGHT-STUDY at the moment. God knows this. So, where do I pick up? Matthew 6:25-33 (in my Bible, it has a section title: The Cure for Anxiety). Coincidence? I think not. Here are the key verses in this particular passage:
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (6:33-34).
Jesus says, when it comes to anxiety, "Do not be...(vs 24)." Does this mean that Jesus-Followers will never be anxious? Let me ask another question: Does this mean that Jesus-Followers will never get a cold? Of course not! Anxiety is called the common-cold of emotional problems for a reason. We will get anxious. Period. Yet, Jesus tells us would-be-followers that there's a better way than wallowing. The better way is a way out. We don't have to live there. Jesus, bless his holy heart, gives us some steps up and out. Mostly, if we really think about it, they are just reminders. So, he reminds us of these things:
- He takes care of the details of our lives. He's in charge. He's SOVEREIGN.
-Worrying doesn't do me any good. It doesn't change a thing.
-Replace the anxiety with Kingdom-mindedness and righteousness.
-Live fully in the moment.
So, here, in the middle of the wee-hours-of-the-morning, the only thing I can do from that list is "replace my thinking." So, what does it mean to be Kingdom-minded, instead of earthly, worry-minded? How do I think outside my own little selfish world to the bigger, grander world of the King of Kings? Here's where Paul's commentary in Philippians 4 helps. Look back a couple of paragraphs. I can start with gratitude. As I list what I have to be thankful for, my heart begins to settle. I make a "thank-you list" and I truly begin to sense contentment filling my heart (A GrEaT tHiNg to do the week of THANKSGIVING - coincidence, I think not). I can add prayer, not just for myself and the details of my world (in fact, "self" is my problem, so I go elsewhere in prayer) , but for the greater good of the Kingdom and for others in need. Prayer settles me even more. I'm reminded of the BIG GOD who is in control and at work on behalf of his children. I'm still awake, so after praying around the world, I begin to think on those things that are worthy of praise. After being reminded of so many in my known-world who are hurting, and lifting them up, this is a great way to remember the character of my God-who-is-in-charge. I'm beginning to yawn. This is a good sign.
Yet, Jesus added a second "seeking." He added to "seek His righteousness." Oh, yes...Jesus followers practice righteousness. In my case, the practice involves "confession." My worry isn't indicative of a follower who is training for righteousness. Do we ever read of Jesus worrying? Outside of his wrestling with God's will before His death, I remember no time where He wondered about the tomorrows of his life. So, like the one who is going before me, I repent of my "mustabatory thinking" and make a choice to also confess my trust of him-who-holds-all-my-tomorrows, and yield to all that the new day coming has for me...
...but, I think I'll go back to bed for a while.