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The Antithesis of Anxiety

We sold our home today. We signed the papers, handed over the keys, and completed the seven month process which felt all-consuming.

Each stage seemed overwhelming—from the painting and redecorating at the beginning, to the actual packing/loading/moving/unpacking at the end (and all the “Hurry up and hide the toys, we have a showing!” in between). But dependence grows beautifully in the soil of overwhelmed.

During moments on this journey, fatigue and stress felt more real than anything else. Too many mornings immediately ushered in our mental to-do list. I hated the gnawing, low rumblings of anxiety just as much as I hated the snapping tone I heard come from my lips. At times the weight of all I felt responsible to accomplish was crushing.

“Do not be anxious about anything …”

I believed a lie. The circumstances were difficult, yes, but they were not what made my chest tight and my heart heavy. What did was believing the lie that I was responsible to affect change, to make sure that things went as planned, and to hold it all together. In the moments when I took my eyes off of Jesus and only noticed the waves, I was believing that I needed to make the water still again. It was pure, modern-day, totally-understandable-in-the-eyes-of-our-culture idolatry. Deep in my heart I was not trusting God really was who he says he is or that he would really do what he has promised.And in response to this blatant treason, my Savior King never left me. He never pointed a condemning finger or cast me away for my sin. The Spirit convicted and lovingly drew me back.

“…but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Apart from God’s grace I would not desire to pray, nor have the ability to access the blessings which prayer was designed to give. In my own strength, even on my most disciplined day, I could not drum up the righteousness to grant me access to the Holy, All-Powerful, Righteous Creator of the universe! He alone, out of the overflow of his own goodness and love, pursued me and granted me that access by the shed blood of his perfect Son, Jesus. He is very well acquainted with my broken condition and knows every moment of idolatry—past, present, and future. Yet He bids me, “Come.” He tells me to bring my anxiety and fear to him, as minuscule as they are in comparison to his greatness. And this Omnipotent God, who holds the stars and planets in place, bends to minister to me, a housewife in Ohio, who is disobeying him and robbing him of the glory he’s due. He draws me into his presence.

As I lie on my cluttered bed, tears flowing along with repentance, the Holy Spirit does what only he can. He exposes the lies, interposes the Truth, washes, comforts, and redeems. His commands are always for our joy, so when we’re told to be thankful instead of anxious, it is not another item to add to our to-do list. Rather, the Lord knows that anxiety cannot remain when we remember the greatest reason of all to be thankful: We get him! When we are in Christ Jesus, the reality of our right-standing before God, our temporary time here on earth, and our future, eternal home with him is the truest reality. The tasks don’t disappear, but instead of believing that the outcome is dependent on my own works, I trust and rest in God. Resting in God’s economy is not the absence of our work, it is a heart-state that recognizes his ultimate authority and our position before him.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Peace.

The perfect antithesis of anxiety. Just as my idolatry-produced-anxiety robs God of glory in my life, his perfect peace graciously given frees me to rightly enjoy him, thereby more rightly reflecting him to others. John Piper’s assertion that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him” is confirmed right in the midst of a partially-packed box and piles of laundry. I talk to my kids more like Jesus when I am filled with his peace. I work on the to-do list with joy and grace when I remember that God is ruling and reigning and that he loves me. When my heart and mind are guarded against anxiety in Christ Jesus, I am freed to rest in the truth that he not only saves me, but he also keeps me, all for the praise of his glorious grace!

Myra Dempsey lives in the Columbus, Ohio area with her husband, Andrew, and their 3 children, Eli (5), Esther (3) and Gideon (1). Myra works part-time as a Licensed Professional Counselor and School Psychology Assistant.  She blogs at dependentongrace.com, contributes to the blog for her home church, at vineyardgrace.org, and has been blessed to be the keynote speaker at the iAm conference in Powell, Ohio, an event for teen girls. She loves reading, writing, and talking about God’s glorious grace!