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Anxiety (And Everything Else That Steals Our Attention from God)

I stayed up late last night helping my oldest son correct mistakes on a project he got a c on. It’s very likely he won’t get a make up grade, but I remember being a smart student who put in a low effort and tried to pull out decent grades. I ended up sabotaging myself in the long run, and wanted to correct my sins in him. This morning, I woke up late, disoriented, and tried to make up time by skipping some morning routine steps to get in early and make up for what I wanted to do today. I didn’t leave the house early as I wanted to, as I lost my wallet. I got to the church only to find out I left my keys at home. All morning, my mind shifted from one point of anxiety to another, and even tried to distract me during my prayer and reading time.

It was then I realized that I was anxious about things that were beyond my control. And, what is more, my anxiety was stealing my attention from God. Why does Jesus say to not worry about anything? Why does Paul write to be anxious for nothing, but in everything, through prayer and supplication make our requests be known to God? Why does Peter say “casting all our anxieties on Him for He cares for us?” It’s because anxiety, depression, focus on career, focus on retirement, focus on anything else steals our focus from God. And God does not desire us to have a divided focus, He demands our whole heart.

It is when we’re fully focused on God that we can fully focus on His desire and intentions for us. It is when we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness that all the things we worry about seem small in comparison, and we realize that, even if we don’t have all we want, God provides everything we need. Jesus is the only good shepherd, anything else is a thief and a liar that seeks to draw us away from the safety of His fold. Fix your eyes on Christ. Do not worry, and do not be anxious. The Lord is at hand.

John 10:1-18

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

1 Peter 5:6-11

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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