As we wind down the season over the next few weeks, there are some of us who feel like summer just sort of fell apart this year. Fears and restrictions canceled so many of the things that we enjoy. Vacation plans fell apart for many of us. Cherished summer traditions disappeared.
And now we are faced with the most difficult Back-to-School season that any of us can remember. We really have no idea what the rest of the year will look like. Some of our annual fall and Christmas activities are already falling apart. There are even apocalyptic disruptions to the upcoming college football season.
Before we go any further, I think you should be aware that I know what you’re thinking. I can sense you asking if I have anything encouraging to say at all.
Well, as a matter of fact, I do and here it is:
Pumpkin spice is already available in stores!
Even when so many things seem to be falling apart, we can still count on an ever-increasing selection of pumpkin spice items for fall. Surely that is cause for celebration.
THE YEAR THAT THINGS FELL APART
When the story of 2020 is written, I think this year may be described as the year that things fell apart. That seems an accurate description to me. Suddenly this year, we discovered that foundational institutions as we knew them could fall apart almost overnight.
And every one of us has been affected in some way. Not many of us have escaped at least some feelings of added stress and anxiety.
And that added stress and anxiety is taking a toll mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, or in some other way.
Perhaps you are someone who has really handled this year well and held it all together. Congratulations! I hope you will reach out to others who may not be holding it together quite so well. There are many people that could really use your help and encouragement this very day.
But maybe you are dealing with things the best you can, yet that doesn’t seem good enough. Maybe you are dealing with anxiety issues to one degree or another. Maybe 2020 is just flat out wearing you down.
So why are we having to go through a year like this?
I don’t know the answer to that question.
But I do know that God has a plan for you and me during this time. A plan that is sufficient to see us through whatever is happening. A plan to hold all things, including us, together.
“He is before all things and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
THE ROOT CAUSE OF ANXIETY
I am no expert on mental or emotional health, but I do know that there is a peace that surpasses all understanding. I know that truth because I have experienced it personally and I have witnessed others who exhibit that peace in their lives continually. I also know that to be true because the Bible tells me it is so, and the Bible does not peddle fake news:
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
That “non understandable” peace comes from God. We can never find true peace in our hearts and minds without a real relationship with God through Jesus. Believe me, I tried.
So if true peace comes from God, and if anxiety is the opposite of peace, then it seems reasonable that a starting point in dealing with our anxiety should involve God.
Specifically, our alignment with the heart, mind and will of God.
In recent decades, chiropractic medicine has become an accepted and mainstream treatment for many of our ailments. It is based on the belief that the root cause of a multitude of our physical problems is misalignment within our bodies. Correcting those alignment issues can sometimes yield dramatic improvement.
Clearly, alignment matters.
Another example of the importance of alignment is with our automobiles. When our cars are out of alignment, it causes a whole slew of problems. Steering can become a struggle. Gas consumption goes up. Tires wear out quickly and safety is compromised.
Again . . . clearly alignment matters.
So, if alignment really matters, could it be that our lack of peace involves some alignment issue between us and the heart, mind and will of God? Could it be that the root cause of at least some of our anxiety is really a spiritual alignment issue?
Would aligning our heart, mind, and will to the heart, mind, and will of God actually help our anxiety?
Yes, yes, and yes.
So how can we do that?
ALIGNING WITH GOD
During my 50 years in the business world, I repeatedly faced things getting out of whack. And I have always found that the best approach to take in those times is to get back to the basics. I believe it is the same with our approach to God.
So, what basics are necessary to help us align our lives to the heart, mind, and will of God.
From the experiences of my own life, I boil it down to three:
1. A decision about Jesus
We each must decide whether we believe that Jesus is who he says he is or whether we believe he is a liar. Pretty stark, but it really is the basic decision at the core of all of the other decisions.
2. The Bible
It is the guidebook for aligning our lives with God. We will never know the heart, mind, and will of God without dedicating time to discovering those traits through the Bible. We must approach the Bible as being written personally for us. Each time we open it up, we should be looking for it to provide a message that God desires for us for that day. A message that we must seek to align with.
Just as the Bible is the written Word of God, prayer involves the spoken word of God — or is supposed to. Prayer was never intended to be us giving God our wish list and his To-Do list for the day. It was intended to be a time where we could invite God into our situations, discover his mind, heart, and will for those situations, and align ourselves accordingly.
When we approach God in prayer, we should be seeking direct revelation from him. To do that, we must allow God the opportunity to speak to us, and we must seek to align with what he says.
OK, pretty basic right? You’ve probably heard it all before.
But before we go, three questions:
1. Have the potholes of 2020 knocked you out of alignment?
2. Are you just trying to make it through this year without really considering the root cause of your anxiety?
3. Do you recognize a need to get back to the basics as God intended?
A CLOSING CHALLENGE
If you’ve stayed with me this far, I hope you will allow me to leave you with a little 3-point challenge:
1. Wherever you stand spiritually, will you commit to starting or adding a half hour of uninterrupted time with God every week for a month?
2. In that 30 minutes, would you commit to STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN for what God wants to say to you that week?
3. During that time, would you incorporate some Bible study, some prayer, and some time to meditate and listen?
I honestly believe that if we will make room in our lives for God to do what he already wants to do; we can push the reset button on much of our anxiety.
Maybe this verse can help you get started:
“Make me to know your way, O Lord; teach me your paths.” (Psalm 25:4)