Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:4-7]
With so much going on in our lives, with our loved ones and our country, there is much to be fearful of. It seems like the only thing that is not unprecedented right now is the anxiety many people are experiencing daily.
Here are five mindsets to starve your fears:
1. Look at life like it’s a railroad track, not peaks and valleys.
One of the self-inflicted ways we harm our attitude and perspective on how things are going is by putting our life in good seasons and bad seasons. We talk about mountains and valleys. It unconsciously affects our emotional outlook of whether or not we have a happy mood (good season, mountain peak) or a negative mood (bad season, valley).
When we believe we’re in a valley season, we neglect to appreciate the good in our lives.
When we believe we’re in a peak season, we become unaware that a trial is on its way toward us.
Rather than looking at what is happening in us, to us and around us as highs and lows, we need to look at life like it’s a railroad track. Railroad tracks have two sides to them heading in a parallel direction.
Instead of seeing life as a series of good seasons and bad seasons, our perspective should be that good and bad are happening congruently at the same time. There is always something to be thankful for and there is always a difficulty to be working through. Keep one eye on each side of the tracks.
Having the discipline to see the good track with our view of things alongside the bad will take away the oxygen for anxiety and fear to breathe. Thank God for the good, trust Him when it’s scary.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice! [Philippians 4:4]
2. Decision-making needs to come from the rudder, not the sails.
Anger, out of fear, is the emotion we have when we can’t control the things we want to control.
Pride, out of insecurity, is the emotion we have when we’re excited about how our lives are going.
Too many of our decisions are coming immediately from our emotions, and the majority of those impulsive choices are damaging our relationships and the reputation we want those watching our lives to have of us.
Our emotions are more like the sail of a boat than they are like the rudder. We feel fear, we feel anxiety, we feel out of control and we react right away, like sails do when the wind hits.
When the pressured storms of life hit, instead of permitting our emotions to drive us where we go, we need to let reasonableness and wisdom direct our responses to what is going on. Instead of our decisions being the sails taking us immediately where the wind goes, they need to be viewed as the rudder of a ship: steady, secure, even-keel, stable.
Being considerate of how our words and actions will be viewed by God and others allows the rudder of faith to drive our lives rather than the sails of emotion.
Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. [Philippians 4:5]
3. When fear is felt, make the Indiana Jones switch from panic to prayer.
Remember watching the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones desired to take a small golden statue? If he just took the statue, an ancient alarm system would trigger a huge boulder to roll over him and make him Flat Stanley.
To trick the alarm system, with steady hands he quickly takes the golden statue and then replaces it with a bag of sand (which, I don’t know why he thought the weight would be the same as gold is so much more dense than sand is) – but the quick switch is what I want us to focus on.
The second that panic is felt, we need to switch it to prayer.
When fear is felt, our heart races and becomes heavy as gold. Our mind flies through all of the hypothetical possible dangers of what could or could not happen. We become paralyzed and miss out on the adventurous, joyful life God has in store for us.
Whether the fear felt is real, or whether it’s a lie, it needs to be switched out and prayer needs to be done immediately so the large boulder of anxiety doesn’t flatten our faith in Jesus.
Freaking out is not a fruit of the Spirit.
Non-Christians freak out.
Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit.
Christians pray and trust God.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. [Philippians 4:6]
4. Treat prayer like ordering from a fancy menu: be specific.
My tastebuds are not fans of three ingredients: onions, mushrooms and coconut. When I take my wife out on a date to a fancy restaurant, the majority of the meals have the three ingredients I don’t love.
When I order, I have to be specific on what I want and what I don’t want.
Let’s say a waiter came to my table at a nice restaurant and asked me, What would you like? How weird would it be if I just said: Food. I want food. The waiter can serve me better the more specific I am – AND – I can enjoy the experience better the more specific I am.
When praying to God, we need to be very specific. Being specific doesn’t invite God to know what we want, He knows what we want before we even ask, but what it does is it allows us to see the specific ways God will answer our prayers the more we drill down what we want exactly.
Also, Scripture teaches us that we don’t get because we don’t ask. The more generic we are in our prayers the more vague of a timeline the answers will arrive.
I don’t want us to treat God like He’s a genie, but sometimes the specific desires of our hearts needs to be laid out in articulate, exact requests.
When fear rises up, replace it with prayer. Specific prayer. Tell God exactly what you need.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. [Philippians 4:6]
5. Finding God’s peace means being in God’s presence.
Anxiety, worry, depression and fear are not from God. If those emotions are reigning in our hearts and minds, God’s presence will feel far away.
Our God has the ultimate goal to guard our emotional life like a soldier.
Sometimes during nights where we can’t sleep and our minds are full of fear, sometimes during moments in the day when we feel shaken due to what’s going on that we can’t control – we need to acknowledge the presence of God – out loud.
Simply saying, I refuse to be afraid. I welcome You, Lord, I welcome Your Spirit, I welcome Your truth, I welcome Your power right now in this room, in my heart, in my mind, for my future.
And then being in the presence of God, you will find the peace of God.
Light drives our darkness.
Truth drives out lies.
Perfect drives out fear.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 4:7]
This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks for reading. You are loved.