I never feel as close to God as I do when I am running. The wind flows through my hair like his breath through the trees. The sun warms my skin as his love fills my soul. My breath is short but my heart if full. I am completely immersed into God’s World. I am completely at peace. This love affair started in middle school and continued into high school where I was a long-distance runner. You could say I was successful at it. Successful enough that I received several scholarships offers all over the Midwest. God gave me a wonderful gift and I absolutely loved running.
I hated the buildup of fear and anxiety prior to a race. There was such a fear of the unknown, a fear of failure, a fear of the absolute pain that comes with pushing your body past its limits to win, and a fear of letting others down by losing. I would get so nervous prior to a race that I would hardly be able to function. I would lash out at others the entire week before a big race. It was all so out of my control; I was out of control. I couldn’t sleep at night. Finally, the day of the race would arrive, and I would be a ball of nerves. My body would shake. I wouldn’t talk to anyone. All this fear and anxiousness inside of me was rotting me from the inside out and it eventually boiled to the surface following the race. You see I would go to a track meet; I would run my heart out and then retreat under the stands or behind the stadium and puke my guts out until the next race. I let the anxiety and fear overtake one of my most treasured God given talents and gifts. The anxiety, in part, was a major reason why I stopped running for 10 years and turned down my scholarships. To put it lightly; I have struggled with anxiety my entire life.
These shutdowns and COVID-19 scare is uncharted territory for most people. You are not allowed to leave your home. Everything in most people’s worlds that they have worked so hard all of their life to maintain control over is completely spinning sideways. Most everyone has experienced some financial hardship. You may feel like the anxiousness is eating you alive. You are in constant fear of the unknown and every media outlet or social channel is confirming these fears.
I am pretty sure I know exactly how most of you feel. I have been living this exact life for the past three years. I have been asked “how have you lived your last three years not knowing what the future holds and not having any control over it?” The simple answer is I never learned how to control the anxiety. I lashed out at people throughout our medical process over the past few years. I lashed out at God. The anxiety was eating me alive inside and eventually it again found its way the surface in the form of a stroke in my eye causing me to lose my vision and then followed up by a bout with shingles. Laying there unable to hold my kids due to the risk of them catching the virus from me I knew that I was rotting from the inside out as a result of how I was internalizing and handling my anxiety. I was back at that track meet puking under the bleachers. I have learned that anxiety, fear and stress physically break down a body. They completely drain a mind. They weaken a soul. I did not find solace until I accepted the fact that everything with Jonathan’s surgeries, strokes, seizures, and cancer were out of my control. There was nothing I could do to impact any of it. I had no control over any of my family’s medical issues. I had no control over healing. So, what else is left when you realize you control nothing in your life?
Friends, I prayed for forgiveness and gave it up to God.
I know it sounds silly and maybe even a little bit naïve, but it worked. It was as simple as following 1st Peter 5:7 when it says, “cast all of your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Him being Jesus. When things seem like they are out of control you are actually right where God planned for you to be; knew, you would be. He is in control. I would love to tell you that all my anxieties simply disappeared and went away forever but that is simply not how the devil runs things down here on Earth. He is prowling like a lion waiting for a moment of weakness and BAM the anxiousness is back. Don’t think for a moment that fear and anxiety are natural to the soul. They are foreign and placed there by the enemy. Think about Adam and Eve. They were comfortable in their own skin and only became anxious and fearful after Satan tricked them into disobeying God and eating the apple. Pastor Rick Warren states that the Bible directs us to “fear not” 365 times. Coincidentally there are 365 days in a year. Hence, you need to pray anxiety off of you daily.
What does it sound like to give up all anxiousness and anxiety to God?
Dear all mighty, all controlling, gracious, heavenly Father. Thank you for this glorious day. Thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross for my sins. I come before you a humble man knowing that I will never fully understand your purpose or way and that my timing will never match your timing. I do know the Bible commands me not to be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my request to you God. And that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Jesus Christ. It is with this that I humbly come before you and ask for you to please lift this burden of anxiety off my soul. Please take this heavy load from my shoulders. It is too much for me to bear. I give it all up to you. I give everything and everyone up to you. Father, what specifically do I need to give up to you? What fear is rotting me away inside? What anxieties am I harboring? (Listen for a response and then give that up to God). I love and need you so much. Please fill me with more of you. In Jesus name we pray.
Jonathan is rounding the corner and headed toward a third, and hopefully final, open heart surgery within in the coming month. The timing of this event in the middle of the covid19 outbreak is distressing. But again, it is completely beyond my control. I cannot add a single hour to Jonathan’s life. Matthew 6:27 “and which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Well Jesus can. Jonathan’s latest scan showed the neuroblastoma tumor has dissipated into nothingness. Jesus is still healing. He can defy diagnoses and heal Jonathan’s cancer and he can heal your anxiety.
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” Proverbs 12:25.
I figure some of you might need a good word today. Do not let anxiety get the best of you. Pray my friends.