Merry Christmas from Camp Refuge!
I want to share a “God story” with you – one of those where God broke through for me. I was at my keyboard yesterday drawing plans in the computer, when a thought seized me. It was fifteen minutes before I needed to go into a meeting that I was unsure about, and suddenly fear of the unknown gripped me. My heart raced. Adrenaline spread from my brain to my hands, making them shaky. I could not focus on the task at hand – a task that moments before came naturally. “WHAT ARE YOU FEELING?” That familiar, comforting, steady voice of the Lord broke through my hijacked brain. I stopped long enough to recognize it. “Anxiety,” I replied. He silently asked me if I had any reason to be anxious; He beckoned me to give the thought to Him. I did. “JUST BE WHO YOU ARE.” As I write the words now, they seem simple. But in that moment – as my racing mind came to a halt – it was a glorious epiphany. And with that new focus, the thoughts of being unsure, distracted, and anxious all left. Is it really that simple?
Christmastime is a time of hope and direction as we look to Jesus, but it can also be one of increased anxiety, fear, and loneliness. If you struggle with thoughts that hijack your brain, rest assured: you’re not alone. The very same Jesus that was born in a manger, whom we recognize as Saviour of the world, also shared our humanity. Listen to this from the gospel of Mark:
[Jesus] became deeply troubled and distressed. He told [his three closest friends], “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me… Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (14:33, 34, 38 NLT)
When I read this, I have great hope for myself. Somehow knowing that Jesus – both fully God and fully man – STRUGGLED helps me! It lets me know I’M NOT ALONE in the struggle for my soul – my mind, my will, and my emotions. I believe the battle that rages against our minds is centuries old and will not abate. But take heart, friend! Jesus’ admonishment doesn’t change: “GUARD YOUR MIND.”
Do the waves of anxiety, doubt, and fear seek to crush you? Do the winds of loss, grief, and trouble encompass round about you? Take hope! You are not in this alone. The One who created you and loves you provided the way. In the garden that night, He cried out to OUR Father and spilled all of his struggle. And we can too.
When it comes to the battle of the mind, one weapon we CANNOT NEGLECT is the word of God. It is a sharp sword that is our offense against the crushing onslaught of stinkin’ thinkin.’ When I struggle in a particular area, I choose to memorize a scripture. Two have been my salvation lately; they are the keys that unlock my true self when the attack on my mind begins. The first one is Isaiah 26:3:
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (NIV)
And my new favorite go-to that I’ve committed to memory this month is Ephesians 4:23-24:
Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in true righteousness and holiness of the truth. (NLT)
You will only find that perfect peace, though, in a loving relationship with your Creator – your Daddy who loves you and offers you hope and direction this time of year. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy or the thoughts that assault you. Pause long enough to know what you’re feeling. Trace that feeling back to the thought that started it. And give that thought to Him. Rest in being WHO YOU ARE – not in your old nature, but in your new nature that’s redeemed, called, and chosen. There is no better way to live.
Is there something you need? Nicole and I would love to pray for you or offer you hope or direction in some way. Feel free to reply to this email if we can help in any way.
Much love and prayers for a joyous holiday season to you and yours,
Kevin & Nicole