“Cast all our anxieties (cares) on him, because he cares for us” (1 Peter 5:7).
“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
And so we do… we go to our Heavenly Father in prayer and present that which is weighing heavily on our mind and heart. The load lifts and once again, we experience peace…
For maybe 30 minutes or an hour and there it is again!
And… the battle rages on and on and on. We give it BACK to Him again, His peace returns, and then at any unsuspecting moment, that worry is back again, controlling our thoughts.
So, what’s with that? Why the yo-yo tug-of-war or the boomerang of worries that hits us up the side of the head when we’ve got our back turned, over and over and over again?
I’m going to take you on a little journey in behind the scenes (much like going backstage after a stage performance) to show you what is REALLY taking place.
I want you to imagine a triangle. At the very top, the apex – the highest point, is God. In the lower left corner, Satan. And down in the right corner, you and me.
We know that God is Satan’s arch enemy. But since he can’t attack God directly, he goes to ‘Plan B. He tries to shoot God’s kids – that’s us!
Now, Satan CANNOT read our minds. Nowhere in God’s Word do we read where he can. He’d have to live within us in order to do that and the Holy Spirit, Who lives within God’s children, wouldn’t put up with that.
However, he’s been studying humanity for quite a few centuries and he’s very good at figuring some things out. He’s also studied us. He knows where our ‘buttons’ are and the things we may be prone to worry or be unduly concerned about. And THAT becomes part of his strategy to get us to live such a defeated lifestyle that peace and joy become but faint memories. And, along with the loss of our peace and joy would also go our influence for our Lord to a lost and dying world and to others in God’s family.
So, how do we combat that?
When we lift our worries and burdens up to our Heavenly Father, it honors and glorifies Him. It’s a form of worship and praise which is, essentially a form of prayer. Satan hates that!!! So, he interferes. He throws thoughts into our minds that are focused on our problems, concerns, worries and maybe even fears in order to sidetrack us and prevent our honoring and glorifying our God in and through our lives. You see, when our focus is FIXED on our worries and problems (and this does not deny their existence), THEY become the center of our concentration and here is what has happened:
We have taken our focus off God and onto our circumstances (remember Peter’s walk on the water in Matthew 14:22-32).
Bad move!! But it delights Satan. Why? Because, WHEN we move our focus from off our Father onto our circumstances, Satan has stolen the glory and honor that belongs only to our Lord and he loves it. Score one for him, zero for our God. You see, when we keep our eyes upon our Lord in spite of any and everything that comes at us, Satan can’t use us to take a hit at God. That changes the score!!
THAT’S why we keep getting hit in the head with the same ‘ole worries that we keep giving to our Lord.
What then is the solution? Good question!
When once we lift up a matter to our Lord, we want to be sure to thank Him for meeting that need in His timing and way. So far so good. Now here is the key! When the worry returns (sent by you-know-who), it is essential that we meet it head on by saying something OUT LOUD to our Lord something to this effect: “Father, I’m so glad that worry popped back into my mind just now BECAUSE it gives me ANOTHER opportunity to say thank You for taking care of it. I love You!” We’ve just given MORE glory, honor and praise to our Great God! The peace returns and more often than not, a quiet joy starts to flow.
Now… if we could see Satan’s reaction when we ‘FLIP’ his attempt at discouraging us once again, only to turn it into another worship of our God, HE FLIPS OUT!! Why? Because we refocused, placed our eyes back onto the Lord our God, and he wasn’t able to steal the glory and honor due our Father.
Since Satan cannot read our minds, if we pray this silently instead of out loud, he will not know we are using his attempt to keep us worried, depressed, and overwhelmed as the signal for a short praise and worship session. The faster we respond to negative thoughts – out loud -, the faster they’ll leave. Oh, Satan won’t just throw up his hands. BUT, when we persist and he sees that his attempts to separate us from our connection with our Father is failing, he’ll back off for a while because he’s defeating himself. He’ll hit us from some other direction with something else BUT we will tackle it in the same way.
Thirty years ago, I learned about a powerful tool that has helped me tremendously in this particular struggle. It has actually become my lifestyle. I had a person in my life, a thorne in my flesh, who drove me nuts. She was not a very healthy person. She was quite the manipulator and at that point in time I knew little if anything about setting boundaries against such people. For a couple of years, she was bugging me daily to the point where she even invaded my dreams of a night. Truthfully, I wanted to pinch her head off and tell God she’d died!! Ever had anyone in your life like that?
One day, out of sheer exasperation, I told the Lord, “Oh, I wish I could just put this relationship with (and I named her) into a box and throw it into the ocean.” I imagined myself doing that and I felt an amazing relief. I actually smiled at the thought. Hummmm. I just wonder??? So, I got out an empty container with a plastic lid on it, cut a hole in the lid, and then I wrote a short note to God that went something like this:
“Father, I can’t handle this abusive relationship any longer. I don’t want to be ungodly but I’m continually angry and that interferes with my relationship with You. I’m giving this entire thing to You and I’m asking You to bring about a separation in our so-called friendship, taking her out of my life. Please continue to work in her life to bring her to where You would have her to be in her relationship with You. I thank You in advance. Please be glorified and honored somehow in the outcome. I love You, Father.”
I dropped that note into what I named my “God Box.” I did not hear from her for two whole days and that had never happened before. In fact, she did not even cross my mind in those two days. It wasn’t until she called that I realized I hadn’t even thought of her. Wow!! I thought, ‘I think I’m on to something here.’
From that time forward, I have utilized a “God Box.” I write out my request, frustration, anger, you-name-it, and I pop it into the box. When I put an actual piece of paper with my prayer on it into that box, it’s like driving a stake into the ground. Guess who hates my “God Box?” Yep! You got it! Ole Satan himself. This little exercise SHOWS him where my focus is. And to top it off, when he attempts to bring it back to my mind again, I whip out another little note and thank my Father for taking care of it for me. Once again, he loses in his attempt to control my thoughts. Score one for me and my God!
Now, it’s important, when we’re writing a note to God, that we be totally honest about how we are REALLY feeling. In other words, we can say it exactly as it is. If what we are feeling isn’t very ‘Christian’ – write it anyway. He already knows so don’t try to play ‘nice.’ It’s very liberating to just ‘come clean’ before the Lord with whatever emotion we may be feeling and that includes hatred, bitterness, envy, and jealousy. There are no exceptions. If we’re feeling it, we’re feeling it!
Just to ensure my little notes to God are totally safe and secure from any one ever finding them and reading them – should they be nosey and disrespectful, here is what I do:
I write one sentence and then the next sentence I write over the TOP of the first sentence. And then I write the next sentence over the tops of those two that are already hard to read. And on it goes. It is impossible to be read.
There is no need that does not qualify for the God Box. Are you worried about tires for the car? How about next month’s mortgage/rent payment? The power bill? Desperately needed clothes for the kids who’ve taken a growing spurt? Enough groceries to make it through the month? That pair of much needed glasses or dental work? You name it… it’ll fit into that box. Make the request known and then be sure to thank Him for handling it.
Somehow… it’s seems almost as though our faith becomes tangible because we are taking an action of releasing it to the One Who has promised to watch over us and meet our needs.
Oh, yes, if I’m out and about and a thought comes back into my mind that I’ve already put into my God Box, I still thank God out loud for what He’s doing. I don’t have to talk loud – even a whisper works. Satan’s got sharp hearing. And, with so many people talking into a blue tooth as they’re out and about, I won’t look weird at all.
Everything we do in life starts with a thought. It flows down into our heart and then out into our daily living. As we capture our thoughts, Isaiah 26:3 becomes a reality: “He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed (remains) on him…”
Every time we exercise our will to be in line with our Father’s, a little more of our ‘natural’ man dies and that ‘space’ is filled with more of His Holy Spirit. Over a period of time we find we are becoming more and more like the ONE Who gave His all so we could experience peace, joy and the power of a victorious life. We are slowly being transformed into His image.
In our transformation, be it ever so slow at times, it is the radiance of our God’s glory that others see flowing through us. That’s what life is all about! His glory and honor.
By the way, PEACE is a PERSON: Jesus, the PRINCE OF PEACE! Isaiah 9:6