As I drove to work on a dark and dreary morning I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I had forgotten something. I checked my pockets, my purse, feeling blindly with cold fingers for my badge for work and my favorite pen. As I fingered my handbag’s contents to ensure I had all the items I would need for the day, and ran through my mind if I had remembered to lock the door before I left home, I realized I had not forgotten anything. I just felt like I did. The strange part was that even as my logical mind knew nothing was amiss, the other part of me still cowered in concern. What I’m saying is that even though I had everything I needed, my human mind still bristled with worry that I had missed the mark. That’s when I realized it was my anxiety rearing its ugly head. Have you ever felt that way?
The thing I hate about anxiety the most is that it comes upon me even when there’s nothing to worry about. My anxiety isn’t always realistic. It will come along when all is well. If there’s nothing wrong and life is hunky-dory, the little hamster in my brain will jump on its wheel and start spinning endlessly, running nowhere. I will worry about non-issues, create worry out of thin air, and stew on specific scenarios that have 0.02 percent chance of occurring.
So you’re saying there’s a chance?!
Yep, my mind can worry itself to oblivion if I allow it, and late at night when I’m in bed, even when I do my best to chase it away. Sound familiar?
This particular morning as I drove to work and realized my unwarranted anxiety was trying to rear its ugly head, I knew prayer was in order. I mean, He says to cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us, right?! So as I began to pray for God to come and give me peace, I heard the lyrics of a Christian song on the radio. The words beseeched God to “draw near to me,” and at that moment it hit me like a lightning bolt.
Draw near to me, God.
Pour out your Spirit on us!
These are all things we say, things popular lyrics proclaim, and words we pray. And there’s nothing wrong with them, per se, but I realized that in my specific situation this wasn’t something that would work as well as the truth.
God is with us.
When I deal with unwanted anxiety, it’s not so much a matter of praying for God to come near and help me. He hears my prayer. It’s not that He’s ignoring me. When anxiety continues, or when it comes back again, and you battle it time after time, a common misconception would be, God isn’t hearing me. He’s not coming to help me deal with this. He’s turned His face from me. What did I do? Am I not Holy enough? Am I not good enough? Maybe I didn’t pray hard enough. It’s probably that unconfessed sin in my life keeping Him from coming to me.
Yet the truth is that as a born-again Christian, God is always with us. He’s not left. He doesn’t need to come. He’s already there. Asking Him to draw near to us when His Holy Spirit lives in us is simply a misunderstanding. We end up putting it into our own hands. We say we’re casting our anxiety on Him, but we deep down believe our performance, goodness, or holiness will impact His willingness to come to our aid.
1 John 4:13 (NIV)
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.
Christ is in us, and we are in Him. We are seated in Heavenly places beside Him and the Father, in our Spirit. It’s only the earthly body that resides in this world, but we don’t have to be of the world or let it rule us. Jesus died so we could be one with the Father as He is one with the Father.
Ephesians 2:6 (NIV)
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
So, instead of asking God to come to us or draw near to us, we just need to recognize He lives in our hearts now. When we call, He is already near. We just have to open our eyes to that fact. We only need to accept the truth that He is. We don’t have to fight anxiety. We just need to acknowledge, understand, and believe that we are in Him, and He is in us. Anxiety can’t live there. No room.
We don’t even have to trudge through a valley. Not really. We’re on the mountain, where He is on the mountain. I realize this might be an unpopular opinion among my fellow Christians, and while I agree we go through barren seasons of life, I don’t think we have to collapse in defeat as we do. To remember this world is but a passing breath, and that we have victory because Jesus is with us always, that is freedom. It’s as if a pipeline from Heaven exists. God pours out His love and victory through the outlet of Jesus and into the container of our heart called the Holy Spirit.
I realized that I cannot fight anxiety. Not on my own, and not simply by asking God to come help me with it. I just have to remember He is here and He says anxiety cannot remain. It doesn’t belong in the Spirit He has created. Anxiety is of this world, but I am not. It has no power over me.
Does it still try to come? Yes. But then I remember the truth. I don’t have to ask God to come near and fight my battles. I just have to remember He is here, and that the battle has already been won.