Wandering Hearts 1: Fear
So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.
Ever seen a worried bird?
Jesus famously said, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?" (Luke 12:25, NIV) You may remember this parable: it's the one where the birds enjoy gourmet cuisine and the flowers have Armani suits, all without a care in the world, because of the goodness of the Father. If they don't worry, how much less should we worry, who are worth more to the Father than birds and flowers?
Years ago Loren Cunningham, in teaching this parable, asked, "Have you ever seen a worried bird?"
Well... have you?
We've all heard that we shouldn't fear or worry. But beyond all the well-documented physical and emotional problems brought on by anxiety, why is fear such a spiritual problem in our lives?
It's a problem because our hearts and minds have wandered away from God and fixated on the thing we're fearful of or the thing or person we're worried for.
Redirecting our hearts
David knew how to redirect his anxious heart back to heaven. He said, "The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1, NIV)
Paul gives us what I believe is the best way to return our hearts to God if we've wandered away with fear or anxiety:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Present your requests to God. The focus is now back on God. What happens when we surrender our cares to God, and in doing so focus our hearts and minds on him? "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (verse 7).
That Sunday morning, when Pastor Kotzé stated that fear pulls our hearts away from God, the Lord immediately showed me a situation in which I had allowed fear to creep in. My heart had indeed wandered away from God; my thoughts were consumed with it, "absorbed with the things right in front of [me]".
So, as soon as I got home, I got alone. Remembering Philippians 4:6, I presented the issue to God. I made requests. I asked for help. Then I repented: for worrying, for allowing fear into my heart, and for being preoccupied with this thing at the expense of my devotion to God.
And, you know what? His peace came. Instantly. It flooded my mind and emotions (check out Psalm 23:3). Logically, the situation remained unresolved so there are things to worry about. But this peace passes understanding. It's the stuff of heaven, it's transcendent beyond the stuff of earth. Even the big stuff.
I didn't stop there. Every day for the next week I "practiced" by presenting that thing to God all over again. I acknowledged His love for me. I made my requests. And then I said to the Lord, "I'm looking at you, God. My eyes are on you. My heart is yours. Don't let my heart wander away from you again."
And the peace remains, guarding my heart and mind: exactly as he promised he would.
When new or resurfacing worries arise in future, I hope to remember to practice Philippians 4:6 immediately rather than discovering a far-away heart after weeks of anxiety. I pray the same for you, too.
Mike & Chandra Noviskie,
missionaries to South Africa
CCF Missions is a ministry of Christian City Fellowship.