August / September 2019 - Vol. 105

                  Asleep on the Sea by Delacroix 
Do You Not Care, Jesus?
by Lynne May

Scripture tells us, "Do not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6)" and "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:6). The habit of  anxious thinking has tricked me into believing I can't overcome it. But from the Scriptures I have discovered the truth that I can learn to overcome it and kick it out of my soul, mind, and heart, because Jesus Christ has given me the authority to do so. When I experience anxiety, I know that it has often led me to either consciously or unwittingly welcome it into my thought life and opened the front door of my soul to it.

It’s a habit that began at a young age, though I didn’t realize I was developing it: welcoming anxiety into my life when I wanted to see a problem solved. Somewhere along the way, as a child, I came under the false belief that if I just strived and strived and anxiously strived, my life would become easier, and my problems would go away. Peace was not easily come by and ‘letting go and letting God’ transform and change me was a foreign concept.

When I think of the Scriptures, and moments when there could have been legitimate cause for anxiety, I think of the disciples in the boat with Jesus during the intense storm (Matthew 8:23-27). As one friend put it, it’s like they were saying to Jesus, “Master, do you not care that we are going down?” And Jesus is asleep in the boat. “What’s up with that?!” Is my raw gut reaction. Yeah: to all appearances, it looks like they were about to go down. Yeah: Why didn’t Jesus wake up and calm them, before they couldn’t seem to help themselves from waking him up?

In my humanity, it boggles my mind. But the truth is, if they had believed in who he was in the midst of this storm, that they had the Messiah, the Lord of the Universe, the One who created and even separated the waters, they would not have been anxious. They could have put more faith in the safety and identity of Jesus than in the storm they saw, the storm they experienced. They had that choice, in their free will. Their circumstances were to some degree dangerous and somewhat bleak. But even if that was the case, they had THE Messiah, they had God, sleeping by their side. True Safety. True Comfort.

So what does this teach me? That Jesus Christ is with me, too. He’s always in the boat. And why is he asleep? Not because he disregards my cause, but because he trusts and finds comfort and peace in belonging to his heavenly Father, and because he knows he has dominion over creation. In the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Why do you complain? . . . Why do you say, Israel, My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’? Do you not know? . . . The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 40:27-28).

This teaches me that I can “fall asleep” and rest easy, too. I can be at peace, even in the storm, because Jesus is with me. I can get my eyes off my circumstances, not focus on my problems and storms, because they will surely come, but fix my inward gaze, my emotions, my mind, my soul on who is with me in the “boat”: Jesus! And when the storms seem to be edging on overwhelm, and water begins to trickle in and slop over the sides of my little boat of life, I can rebuke them, in the name of Jesus, and invite peace and calm into my life. I can declare that he is in the boat with me, and I will not be afraid or anxious.

I can repent and say: “In the name of Jesus, I repent of anxiety. Jesus, the truth is that you are in control, you are the Lord, and you are with me, even if there are storms.” Next, I can say, “In the name of Jesus, anxiety get outta here! Go to Jesus. I renounce you.” Then, I can pray, “Father, bring me peace. Give me your supernatural peace. Thank you that you are with me.”

So let’s choose not to let anxiety rattle our chain. Someone once said that the evil one is like a dog on a chain, firmly chained to a tree. He can’t actually bite or get at us unless we begin to enter into his territory.

So we have a choice. It’s a choice of will to not let anxiety have power over us. It’s not all on us, we do need to turn to Jesus for his help, but we do have the free will to choose to turn to him, and that’s our part in all of this. Now this is not to say that professional counseling and medications cannot help us in this area of anxiety, that God cannot use them. But it is true that each of us has a mind and a will that play a part in the fight for peace in our souls.

Let’s try not to allow our problems, our circumstances, other people, our bosses, our neighbors, and not even the driver in front of us holding up traffic at the most inconvenient of times, anyone or anything else have control, power over us, but Jesus Christ.

This isn’t easy stuff. This is real soul work that the Holy Spirit wants to help us with. If you wrestle with getting easily stressed or anxious, you know that it takes real effort to relax. It is a real discipline to be cultivated over time. But this is what it means to let him be Lord of all of our lives. New habits take time. Yet old ones really can become totally undone and replaced.

We really can let him remain on the throne and acknowledge that he is with us in the boat, always. It’s most tempting to take control back or believe the lie that he is not with us when we’re either under high stress or maybe, when things are going really well. To stop praying, to stop talking to him, to quit making eye contact with him. To stop turning to him. To stop keeping him at the center of our gaze. But this is not how we have learned Christ. In the words of the apostle Paul, we have learned that our call is “to be made new in the attitude of our minds” and to “put on the new self, created to be like God” (Ephesians 4:20, 23, 24). This “new attitude of our minds” tells us that Jesus loves us, he has a plan for us
every day, every moment of every hour, he has a perfect plan, a good plan. Let us choose to stake our lives on this truth more than what we may see in our everyday lives during a difficult season.

So today, take a few moments and close your eyes, and hold your breath for a few seconds: let this remind you that you cannot even take a breath without God’s life in you! Every breath, every moment you’re alive is GIFT from him and irrefutable evidence of his deep love for you.

Then let your breath out: let this remind you that whatever you’re trying to hold onto, tempted to hold onto, anxiously and fearfully, more than Jesus, is not worth it. Let it go. Just let it go. Don’t you want to get some rest, and lay your weary little soul and heart down in the boat next to Jesus? Go for it. Dare to let the storms rage; he’ll rebuke them, in his time. He’ll calm them. Yes, you can trustingly ask him. But trust more in him who is ever with you. Answer his gentle invitation to join him in resting in the security of knowing that you are a dearly beloved daughter of the heavenly Father.
No storm can shake my inmost calm

While to that refuge clinging

Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth

How can I keep from singing?

[Lynne May is a member of the Work of Christ Community in Lansing, Michigan, USA]

This article first appeared in The Lovely Commission, a publishing venture and brand of Kairos North America. Used with permission. 

The Lovely Commission is
 run by Molly Kilpatrick and Mary Rose Jordan and a team of contributors from various Christian communities in North America and beyond. Together they are working to build a culture of radical love, femininity, modesty of heart, mind, and body amongst young women.

Their aim is to inspire and equip young women to embrace and promote a culture of Godly femininity in which we live out our rich identity as daughters of God and disciples of Jesus Christ.
top illustration: Christ Asleep on the Storm-tossed Sea, by Eugene Delacroix

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