In my sojourn through the Valley of Anxiety, I struggled through sleepless nights and shaky days, and regrets often surfaced. In late November, I wrote this prayer:
Dear Lord, You are God, the only God. You are the One who has ultimate control. I want to fit into Your plans, for they are good. You have always been faithful to me. Please forgive me for the times I’ve turned away and looked longingly at what I thought might have been or what used to be. Too often I’ve run after what looked good from a human perspective instead of trusting Your goodness. Please forgive and cleanse as you have promised (1 John 1:9).
2015 National Park in California
Lord Jesus, I remember Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”* And I feel so ashamed of the many times I’ve missed opportunities to do the good works prepared ahead of time for me to do. Lord God, please work in me according to Your promise in Philippians 2:13—“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.”* Then I can take advantage of the opportunities which You give me today instead of missing them and tomorrow wallowing in regret. Amen.
*Holman Christian Standard Bible
(Picture from Pintrest)
“I try to take one day at a time, but lately several days have attacked me at once,” so the poster said. I laughed because on some days it does seem like life is like that. On those days, maybe I could take some tips from the Psalms:
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…!
Psalm 62:1, 5 “I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.”
Psalm 100:3 “Acknowledge that the Lord is God…!”
Psalm 131:2 “I will calm and quiet myself like a weaned child with its mother.”
And I could remember Isaiah 40:31 “Those who wait on the Lord renew their strength….”
Oh, may I remember to put these verses into practice next time I feel overwhelmed!
Photo in Glacier NP
My mind in depression-anxiety mode gravitates to guilt. Past wrongs I’ve done loom large in my life. Even good sermons sound like, “You ought to have been or done better; you should be or do better; shame on you.”
Now I’m not talking about real guilt for which there is a solution. It’s important to face the sin which the Holy Spirit points out. This we can repent of and confess to God. Then we can look to 1 John 1:9—“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)” God keeps His promises, so that takes care of the real guilt.
False guilt wallows in regrets and manufactures “should-do’s” or “ought-to-be’s.” My mind gets busy with these thoughts, and my spiritual vision gets blurred. Then I don’t see the real and current sins I need to confess and repent of. And that kind of thinking gets my focus off of Jesus and onto me. Then I start expecting me to do what only He can do. So—more burden, more depression, more anxiety.
But there is hope at the end of this valley. And, much as I feared there wouldn’t be, there was an end. When one is down in the valley, though, a prayer from Psalm 86 ministers to the soul: “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. …You alone are God. …Give me an undivided heart…. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me…. (From Psalm 86:5-8, 10-13 New International Version.)”
Yes, Lord, an undivided heart, trusting You alone
And seeking Your kingdom, not my own.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). I wonder what kind of fear that is. It must not be the fear that He will reject me if I accidentally do something wrong or that He will give up on me if I fail too many times. No, it can’t be fears like that because that fear involves torment, and God’s perfect love casts that out (1 John 4:18).
Rather, surely that “fear of the Lord” recognizes His awesome power, might, intelligence, and total authority. It acknowledges that He is God, and I am not; that He is the potter, and I am clay; and that He is absolutely righteous, pure and true. It is fear that seeks to obey His commands and walk His way. And obeying Him and His laws always results in a better outcome than anything I or any other human being could plan or do. Thus, the fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom.
Today I remembered a couple of unconfessed sins from my college years. At first I went back to my old way of thinking: “Oh I wish I could go back and change my attitudes and actions so I wouldn’t be ashamed of them when I face Jesus at judgment.” Then I remembered a certain story a Christian leader told me:
“A man carrying a load on his back walked along a dirt road on his way to town. A farmer in a horse-drawn wagon offered him a ride. So the man climbed up beside the farmer, and they continued on. The farmer asked the man why he didn’t put his burden down in the wagon bed.
“The man replied, ‘Oh sir, you were so kind to give me a ride! I couldn’t ask you to carry my pack also.’”
Ah, yes. When Jesus died for me, He paid for those two sins also. And 1 John 1:9 is still true: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)
I don’t have to carry around that shame. I can lay it down in God’s wagon bed of grace.
Colossians 2:13-14 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (NIV)
Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” (NKJV)
At one point on our trip to Pennsylvania, we hit some traffic cones with our car and knocked the front lower bumper fascia loose. The accident also bent the left front wheel well liner down so that it scraped against the wheel. We stopped and my husband bent that part back out of the way. He said he would need a “wire tie wrap” to secure the other part.
After a few miles, we stopped at a gas station for fuel. At the next pump, a young man pulled up who “happened” to have the tie wraps, the necessary Phillips screwdriver, and the experience and expertise (having “worked on these things before”) to get the bumper fascia fixed up right. Amazing!
Even if we had tried, we couldn’t have thought of and arranged such delightfully perfect help. It was a kind gift from our loving heavenly Father. Thank You, Lord!
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17 NKJV)