Gives fear the boot—
Not on the guest list
For the prodigal’s feast.
It is no secret that anxiety is one of the besetting sins that nips at my heels as I walk with Christ. At low, no-major-crisis, everyday levels, it's fairly easy to ignore and socially acceptable. In the storms when I feel overwhelmed, the intensity nearly paralyzes and distracts from everything else. In every degree, however, it is sin and reflects my lack of trust in God's power and goodness. (The commands not to fear or be anxious abound in Scripture; why should disobeying these fall in a different category from not murdering, stealing, or coveting?)
That said, I realized last week that I had come to believe that while my anxiety was wrong and needed replacing with trust, at least it didn't hurt anyone but myself and my relationship with God. (As if not hurting others makes it better: it's not so bad; I'm only sinning against God. Sure, that makes sense.) Then I noticed that a close friend without a natural bent towards worry has learned to fret. And I noticed how furrowed my brow and tense my jaw after a phone call from another friend who gives me a run for my money in this department. Now I wonder if this sin is so harmless to the souls around me as I had thought. Is it possible that worry is as contagious as grumbling, bitterness, or idolatry? That all sin is against community?
Seeking and receiving forgiveness, I apologized to the friend I'd influenced towards worry. By God's grace, may this realization add urgency to my battle to exchange anxiety for confidence in my strong God. Scripture memory is a strategic weapon for me in this fight, as is gratitude. Intentionally filling my mind with the good and true leaves less time in the day and room on the hard drive for worried thoughts. I am learning also to ask for the helping prayers of those close to me, which deals a blow to pride at the same time.
It is not easy to unlearn a 38-year habit, but it will only be harder to break after 42, 57, or 73 years. Now is always the best time to repent and seek other contagious qualities more in keeping with the legacy I want to leave. When I spend time with family and friends, interact with medical and pharmacy staff, chat with our neighbors, exchange greetings with those sitting around me at church when I can attend, the fragrance of Christ is the impression I hope for. It's His light, joy, peace, and gentleness, not fretting and worry, I hope you see shining through the cracks in this clay pot.
Those who have come to these words today no doubt have a variety of sin habits to fight, some similar to mine and some different. It is my prayer that my journey gives you some fresh perspective and commitment to keep fighting in the strength of the Lord, for others' good as well as your own.
May the Lord's love and life in us continue to drive out our variegated sins until the Day we are truly like our Love when we see Him face to face.