Anxiety is just a fancy word for worry, but worry is a fancy word for trying to do things in your own power or ability! Let's be truthful here - we all struggle with letting go of the reins on some stuff in our lives - maybe a little more at some times than others. If we are feeling kind of "strong" at the moment, we may not feel the need to seek God's direction, nor even give it a second thought. If we are a little "weak" and a whole lot of emotional upheaval is brewing deep within, we may want his perspective on the situation a little quicker than later! Why is that? It is probably because we have a tendency to "work things out" in our own strength whenever we "feel" we might just be able to and then when we become pretty convinced by the building pressures that our way has not really accomplished the goal, we cry out under the pressure. At the root of being overtaken by anxiety is this idea of being overshadowed with "self-ability".
When anxiety overtakes me and worries are many, Your comfort lightens my soul. (Psalm 94:19 VOICE)
Anxiety has a way of creeping into a situation - maybe not really present there to begin with, but as time passes, things spiral out of control, and we begin to sense things aren't going as planned, we can begin to feel this overshadowing effect - we are about to be "overtaken" by the worries of the moment. Any place in our lives where we rely upon our own self-ability to get us through, we are relying on a "faulty power" to bring the desired results. The problem with "faulty power" is the lack of stability that power brings. I have a flashlight in the house which works about 95% of the time. It has something wrong with it, though. The other 5% of the time, I have to "coax" it to work by jiggle it a little, thereby rearranging the batteries, or just giving it a good thump on something to make it glow! It has something wrong with it and the "power" is interrupted - it is faulty.
On the surface, the flashlight looks reliable. Even when I flip the switch, it performs reliably the majority of the time. Yet, when I may most need it, it could fail me because the source of the light can be interrupted by whatever keeps this flashlight from being reliable! The same is true in our own lives. We can rely upon the same way of getting thing done over and over again, until one day the light just isn't there when we need it! It isn't the light which is absent, but the connection which needs to be made in order for the light to be present. We avoid this connection when we are too reliant upon what we know or can do on our own in order to accomplish the task at hand. We don't "need" any other source outside of ourselves. In time, self-reliance will do something we may not realize - it makes us "count on" what has limited, or interrupted connection with the real source of power.
Anxiety can overtake us any time we are more reliant upon what we think or feel than we are upon looking to the source of reliable "power". By definition, anxiety is some form of uncertainty. As long as we are "certain" about our ability or strength, we plunge ahead. When we begin to feel the ice cracking beneath our feet, we can stand there in our own confidence, or we can admit our strength may not be enough to rescue us this time! Nothing we stand upon apart from Christ alone will give us a sure foundation and stable footing in our endeavors. We will always feel some overshadowing of uncertainty when we fail to give him first place in our planning or performance. Anxiety comes when we realize we don't have the "advantage" we thought we had. It is like when I went into the candy jar as a kid, stole a few pieces of black licorice, consumed them quickly while mom was away, then thought I'd never be found out. The moment she returned, she knew! How do moms do that? I guess I thought she had some super-human powers, but have you ever seen what black licorice does to your mouth, or smelled someone's breath after they have consumed it? Duh! She didn't have magical powers - she had perception!
Anxiety has a way of "over-shadowing" all the actions we take whenever those actions are taken outside of planning with Christ at the center. God isn't against a good plan - he just wants us to bring those plans under his oversight. When his oversight is there, our plans are more likely to succeed. Why? We aren't reliant upon "faulty power". Peace is disturbed when we are reliant upon what we know, believe, trust in, apart from Christ. My pastor has asked each of us to consider what "story" is being written in our lives this year. Many of us have heard the little quip of starting a new year with a "fresh slate". The purpose of a fresh slate is to rewrite the story - or maybe to begin to write it with a new focus. If we bring all the past chapters into our present story, we might be over-shadowed by what we have or haven't accomplished in our "story". We can become too self-reliant if the story has been "good" up to this time, or we can be too fearful if the story has been a little "tumultuous". Either way, we need a new "focus" in our story - as an author might put it - we need a better plot!
Anxiety has no place in the heart of a believer. It is there only to show us we have become too reliant upon ourselves, or that we need to reach out to make connection again. If we are being overshadowed by anything right now, it is time to shed some light into the story! Just sayin!