First I'll say that the blogs will now happen every other week. I've been ministering in prayer quite a bit more; and want to keep going through those doors I see opening. The ministering is happening online and in person. Less blog devotional and exercise writing will equal more ministering and helping people linger with God in prayer.
As I review the 20+ ministering situations over the last 3 weeks, for the most part, there is an obvious theme and it is ANXIETY. That theme is not just observed in ministering, but also heard in interactions I have in my 12 hour a week position. Instead of having a physical ailment, a good number of people express an urgent need to be seen due to overwhelming anxiety. They aren't going to work because of it; they are isolating and medicating.
Here is a snippet of one ministry interaction from an online situation, "After a very anxiety filled morning and trying many coping skills that kept failing and just increasing my anxiety, I took some medication. Now I just feel lonely and depressed but calm and a bit euphoric."
The anxiety is not gone. The pill was a temporary ineffective relief. Loneliness and depression replaced anxiety.
This person and most of the others have not factored God into their answers for managing internal upheaval.
Is God the magic pill? Does anxiety just go away when you become a Christian? No. Should we feel ashamed if we have anxiety? No. We are to recognize it as a call to remain. As Christians, we take the medicine of His love. Sounds all very fanciful and unrealistic. Fanciful? No. Unrealistic? Hmmmmm....
That call to remain can be quite puzzling. I was pondering it as I was tracing and coloring in one scripture last week. It is John 15:9. Jesus says,
"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you, now remain in my love."
I have been struggling with some anxious thoughts. So I came to the conclusion I was not remaining.
I decided to ask myself a question. How do I know that I am not remaining in Jesus' love?
My answer was..."when my fears nullify my faith, when I lack trust in God's help. And I have to admit I struggle often in the ministry call. I struggle with thinking I am not doing enough."
Jesus whispers into my scribbled confession, "I've got you."
I understand what my gentle Shepherd means and it calms me immediately. "I see you. Don't fear. I'm with you. Keep going. You are not alone. I will provide. I am able. You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone."
Then a scripture is impressed upon my heart to feed me, to let me know my praying and my serving is enough, Hebrews 6:10. Oh how I love HIS WORD delivered by His Spirit!!! He feeds me; and nourishes me as a vulnerable lamb in the midst of wolves, as a tender branch needing life from the true vine, John 15:5. How wonderful are His reassurances!
Jesus says we are remaining if...
"If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love.. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete..."- John 15:10-11.
How often we question if the WAY we are remaining is "good enough", right?! The word obedience carries a negative connotation for a lot of people. It will illicit the "I'm not doing enough" response. We make obedience a burdensome word and heap up a list of "to do's" and estimate for OURSELVES what is "enough". Yet God's word says that obedience is NOT to be burdensome.
"In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." -1 John 5:3-5
Post belief in Jesus, our minds desperately need continual renewal. We need to remain in Him and He in us.
You know, even after the comfort of my prayer time I described above, two days later I struggled with not doing the blog last Friday. It was a lot for me to not write one, as I have done it consistently for every week since January 2016, with the exception of one week. Additionally, I struggled to give myself permission to leave a conference last Friday since I got the ticket for free, and wanted to honor the gift. But instead I gave in to the whisper of "Go sit with her." So I ignored the self-imposed burdens and perceived expectations of others and instead went to the hospital. I stayed the afternoon in the ICU. I got to sing and pray for hours over this little one God treasures. My anxieties dissipated and she was comforted. Obeying was not a burden.
Love trumps "doing". The simple act to obey is directly tied to loving. Loving dissipates anxiety. His call is for us to lay down our lives for the sake of others at the cost of our own agenda and the outcome of His joy. Anxiety and joy do not co-exist.
For you, is obeying a time clock to punch, a list to check off, a pressure cooker of expectations by others, an insistence on your way and measurements? Are you heaping false expectations and setting yourself up under a review system that is not of God? What is behind your anxiety? Ask Jesus to show you what is at the root of it.
Remain in His presence for awhile. Go to him and confess what is burdening you. Sing a song to Him. Read one scripture over and over and over. Wait on revelation and don't rush. Go slow. Write a scripture over and over and over. I was writing the John 15:9 scripture for 4 days in 5 minute increments before I was able to ask myself questions. Be patient with yourself in your anxiety. Ask yourself questions in reflection. Ask Jesus to help you understand your motives and attitudes. Take your eyes off yourself and go love someone in need.
I pray that you find a rhythm of remaining in His love. I pray you assess your definition of obedience and that it gets re-framed to mean "following His gentle guidance". May you receive His life giving words and obey. Blessings!
"If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." - John 15:7-8.
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Prayer is Gift!
Hi my name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 25 year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and praying for His life in greater measure!