Therapy: Session 1
David Marvin | 2020-07-14
We all experience fear and anxiety, even though no one wants to. Anxiety makes us reach for anything that might give us relief, but God’s word has a lot of practical truths that can help us fight this battle instead. In this message, we cover the first step to finding freedom from your anxiety—recognize it.
Therapy: Session 1
We all experience fear and anxiety, even though no one wants to. Anxiety makes us reach for anything that might give us relief, but God’s word has a lot of practical truths that can help us fight this battle instead. In this message, we cover the first step to finding freedom from your anxiety—recognize it.
All right. Well, hey. Welcome, everybody joining us online. We are kicking off a brand-new series tonight. That is right. Therapy. Where if there was ever a time our world needed therapy, we have arrived in it. We're going to be taking week by week going through therapy sessions if you will, and walking through mental health, anxiety, depression, what it looks like to be healthy in this space.
This series was planned even before COVID ever arrived. We planned this back in 2019, and just as God would have it, here we are. So we're going to walk through what it looks like to address mental health from God's Word.
Let me give you a unique experience of anxiety that happened to me once in my life. It was moments, or hours really, after I had gotten married. So the wedding went off without a hitch. My wife Calli. Here's a picture of her. She looked beautiful. The wedding went great. The Shanes sang at it. JP, a close friend, did the wedding. The reception was awesome. It was just a great night, and we got married.
I woke up the next morning, and I was flooded with an emotion I did not expect to have. It was the emotion of anxiety. Now let me explain how I kind of got there. My one contribution to the wedding and, you know, this whole process as the groom was the honeymoon. In other words, as you would probably guess if you are a girl, typically the bride is the heavy lifter as it relates to invitations, decorations, all that stuff. But my one responsibility was the honeymoon. So I was not going to blow it.
I had a friend in my life at that time give me a piece of advice. I'm not sure it's biblical advice, but he said, "Hey, look, son. There are two things you can't spend too much money on: an engagement ring and a honeymoon." Although that is clearly not biblical and sounds like the advice Kim Kardashian or someone would give, it was advice I took to heart, and I was like, "I'm going big." As big as a seminary student working at a church could go.
So I got as good of a ring as I could, and I researched like crazy. We were going to go to the best honeymoon spot possible. So I found this place. It was like a boutique, gourmet, all-inclusive, amazing resort. You know, you had your own private butler, 1,250 square-foot rooms. You had your own private pool. It was amazing. I just broke the bank saying, "We're going all in on this thing together."
So finally, the wedding came, and like I said, I woke up the next day, and I was flooded with anxiety. Not because of who I had married or being worried over the decision I made. I was totally thankful and excited about being married to Calli. I was anxious about the honeymoon, and not because I forgot to pay a bill or forgot something to do, because I was worried about one question…What are we going to do for the next eight days?
We were going for eight days to a very secluded 60-room boutique. There wasn't a lot of night life. There wasn't any night life, and I'm a very active person, like an extra-extrovert. I like to be on the go. Don't rest well. Not a fan of massages. So the idea of kind of lying around all the time with literally a guy on the beach who would play a harp, and you would sit in your bed all day, it was terrifying to me.
I was like, "What are we going to do? I'm going to be stuck, completely excluded from society. I barely even know this woman. We've been married for 12 hours, and we're going to be entirely cut off from everything. What am I going to do?" Thankfully, I had included a buffer day after we got married on Saturday night that would allow us to kind of relax before leaving for the honeymoon on Monday morning. Pro tip: I really recommend the buffer day. It's just my thing.
So anyway, on that buffer day, as I'm hit with anxiety, I'm like, "Man, I need to figure out what we're going to do." So I begin to think through and reach for, "Well, maybe we could do this. Then do this." I go to Barnes & Noble. I buy, no joke, 12 books. I don't know what I was thinking. It definitely increased the weight of my luggage I was carrying on. Maybe I was thinking, "I'll just make this an educational trip or something." That didn't calm my anxiety.
So then I called AT&T. Because we were going international, I was like, "I need the biggest data international package you have. I'm going to be cut off. I'd better have service so that at least I have access to the outside world." That didn't calm my anxiety. So I just began to download every movie I could on my computer, on her computer, thinking, "If nothing else, I guess we'll just catch up on movies we haven't seen in forever, like Gone with the Wind, or whatever movie. We'll just have a backup of time."
None of that calmed my anxiety. At some point, I broke down in tears to my wife, which it sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous, where I'm sitting there, having a borderline, closest thing to a panic attack I've ever had, going, "I just don't know what we're going to do for the next eight days," and crying in front of her, which had to make her really feel excited that her new husband is now crying about spending eight days with her and only her in a foreign destination.
Part of me was like, "I wonder, could I bring a buddy? Like one of my groomsmen or something?" It just was crazy and irrational. But in that moment, I did what anxiety does. It makes us reach for anything that can give us relief. Oftentimes, because anxiety makes us irrational, it makes us reach for irrational things or things that often don't help our anxiety. In the midst of feeling overwhelmed or anxious, people can turn to different vices, or turn to pornography, or turn to alcohol, or turn to marijuana. We just turn to a co-dependent relationship. Anything that will give us relief.
Sadly, relief is seldom experienced. But God loves you, and he talks a lot about anxiety. For the next few weeks, we're going to spend more than one message, or session, in this Therapy series on anxiety before we jump into another topic because it's such a big issue in our culture, and there's not enough we could do to cover it in one single night.
If you've ever felt anxiety, you are normal, and you are right in line. If you've never felt anxiety, you do not live on planet earth, and I'm not sure how you're listening to this right now because for the rest of us, at some point we experience fear, anxiousness, anxiety. The American Psychological Association has said that America is the most anxious country on the planet. If there was a gold medal given out for the most anxious, we would win it year after year.
The American Psychiatric Association found that two in three Americans were anxious or extremely anxious. That means most of us, 60 percent. In fact, in Millennials, or young adults, and the generation right behind them, Gen Z, 70 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 to 34 describe themselves as anxious and increasingly anxious. These were taken before COVID ever happened.
Prescriptions for anti-anxiety medicine in the last 15 years have quadrupled in our country. Anxiety seems to really be getting worse. There was a study done that found that the average child today exhibits the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the 1950s. This is not a problem, anxiety, that's going away. It seems, if anything, to be getting worse.
Much of which, people think, is probably because of the rapid change. We live in a world where everything is constantly changing, and we're being bombarded all around us with how the world is constantly in turmoil. One study found that in the last 30 years culture has changed as much as the previous 300 combined. Change can be stressful, anxiety-producing.
If that wasn't enough, then you have the young-adult years. The reason why…I think it makes sense…this time in our lives would be even more anxiety producing is because it's a time where you're making so many of the major decisions you're going to make in life. One study found that 80 percent of the major decisions you're going to make are made between the ages of 18 to 35. Who you're going to marry. The career path you're going to be on. Where you're going to live. Shaping the person you're going to be.
Those are huge decisions. There's not a clear playbook on them. Yes, I'm supposed to, or not marry her, or what am I supposed to do? We have God's Word, but it's not always black and white on, "Should I work here? Should I take this job or this job?" So of course, anxiety is going to spike. But what if for Christians it doesn't have to?
Our heart in this series is for us to look at God's Word and give practical truths, practical things we can reach for in those moments of anxiety that are not an international data plan or books at Barnes & Noble, but things that actually will help us, because here's what I know. All of us who have experienced that anxiety, you will experience anxious feelings, but I also know no one wants to.
No one is like, "Hey, God, you can have everything in my life. I'm keeping this for me. I'm not giving up my anxiety or my anxious feelings. I want to hold onto this as long as I can." Nobody wants that. All of us, if we could push a button, we would hit it and say, "God, take this from me." The good news is God doesn't want you to carry that. Throughout Scripture, as we'll see in the next few weeks, he has given clear instructions on how you and I can begin to experience relief from anxiety.
Tragically, I think the church has failed as it relates to mental health in a lot of ways, failed as it relates to anxiety. It's an issue that if someone struggles with it, too often our response is to go, "Hey, man, if you have a struggle with depression or with anxiety, you need to go to a counselor or psychiatrist. You need to go get help from a therapist." As though God's Word, the Bible, and God's people don't have anything to offer.
My wife is a counselor. She is a licensed professional counselor. I've talked about that before. I absolutely believe in what she does and love it, but even she would say, and any Christian counselor or counselor who's a Christian worth their salt or worth their weight or knows what they're talking about would say for a Christian God's Word should always be the first line of defense.
Beyond that, you never outgrow it. It should be the thing we turn to first and foremost. I think more than often Christians don't because either they're pushed in a direction of, "Go find help somewhere else," or they don't understand what the Bible teaches. I don't think a lot of pastors really break down and teach well what the Bible teaches on anxiety.
So you may have heard something like this. "Hey, the Bible says don't be anxious; just stop. Or don't be anxious; just pray." Neither of which are bad things, but they don't work, and that's not what the Bible teaches. Here's what's true. If you could just stop being anxious, you would have already. All of us would.
The good news is the Bible is way more practical, way more helpful, and it has way more transformative principles and truths in it, that if you and I apply them, they're just that, they're transforming in our lives. We're going to look at one of them tonight. We're going to talk about the idea of recognizing your anxiety, recognizing it, because before you can do anything to address it, you have to recognize it.
So we're going to be in Matthew, chapter 6. We're going to walk through three steps that are the first steps for you to experience peace, or move down the path of peace. It involves recognizing your anxiety. The first step is recognize what you're really anxious about. Secondly, recognize what it is rooted in. I will explain and unpack all those. Then recognize what God says about those roots.
I already said this. We'll be in Matthew, chapter 6. Matthew 6 is right in the middle of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, which is the sermon that was written and called the Sermon on the Mount. Anybody know why? You guys have to start reading your Bible, people. This is my staff team. They didn't even know. Because Jesus taught it from a mountainside.
He launches into a conversation about lots and lots of topics. He brings up anger and wrath and lust and how to handle relationships. In the middle of it he brings up anxiety, as though people have been anxious for a long time. As long as there were people, there was anxiety and worry. Jesus launches into a conversation, and says some tremendously helpful and really profound things that counseling and psychology today is catching up with.
Here's what he says. Matthew 6:25: "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on." Let me hit pause. The word anxious, just quickly, is a word that means to meditate or dwell on anxious or fearful thoughts.
In other words, it's not Jesus saying, "Hey, don't be anxious." He's not saying, "Hey, never have an anxious thought." That's impossible. If you thought that's what the Bible teaches, it's not what he's saying. The word is the word merimnao. It's a word that means meditate. In other literature, it's used as meditation.
When Jesus says, "Hey, don't meditate, or don't make a practice in your life meditating on fearful and anxious thoughts," who would disagree with that? If you're quick to dismiss, like, "Oh, Jesus just said don't be anxious." No, he said don't meditate on anxious and fearful thoughts. Who in the world would disagree with that?
Who would be like, "No, that's crazy. He wouldn't tell me to do that. I love meditating on anxious thoughts. That's what changed my life. I started getting up every morning, and I spend the first 15 minutes meditating on everything negative, fearful, and anxious I can that could possibly happen that day. Ever since then, I've been a new man." No. That's insane. Jesus is saying what all of us know. It's not a good use of time or your life to spend time meditating on fearful and anxious thoughts about what you will eat and what you will drink.
Now he addresses what his audience was worried about. To us, he would say don't spend time meditating on how much longer you're going to be single. Don't spend time meditating or focus on like, "What if I never end up getting married, or what if I never have kids, or what if I don't get the job? Maybe my roommate is going to move out. What if I end up getting corona?" Don't spend time meditating and focusing on those things. They're going to pop in your head, but you have the decision whether or not you're going to choose to grab on and dwell on them. He says don't do that.
He addresses their worries. To us, he would bring up whatever you're anxious about. Your parents' relationship not working out. How much is in your bank account and whether or not you're going to have enough. Whether you're on track to retire at the age you want. Whether the relationship is going to work out. He's not saying don't care. He's not saying don't be responsible. Do both of those. But he's saying you don't have to focus and meditate and dwell. He's saying don't do that.
Then he asked a question that I think is so profound. "Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?" Again, he brings up their worries. To us, he would say, "Isn't life more than getting married? Isn't life more than having that new job? Isn't life more than getting a pay raise? Isn't life more than driving the right car? Isn't life more than owning a home?" Whatever you're worried about. It's not that those things are unimportant, but it's a really brilliant question.
Let me ask you real quick…Why do you think Jesus asks that question? He is sitting there in front of an audience, and he says, "Hey, you're spending so much time dwelling and focusing on whether or not you have enough to eat or whether or not you may run out of clothes, what you're spending your life on. Isn't life so much more than those things?"
Do you think Jesus is really looking for an answer? Is he like, "Guys, I don't know. Is that all life is about?" No. It's safe to assume he's Jesus, which means he's God, so he knows the answer. It's a brilliant question because what is that question do? It forces his audience to put into perspective the object of their anxiety, their worry, because the answer it leads to is, "Well, no. Life is more than food."
In other words, no one here would say that all life is about is making sure you have enough food, and as long as you have enough grain for the rest of your life, that's the epitome of a great life. No one would say that. It's an important part of life, but it doesn't equal life. Just like for us, we'd go, "Yeah, I mean, no, marriage doesn't equal life. It's an important part, and it would be a great part, but no, it's possible to live a good life and not be married, like Jesus did, or like Paul did."
When you think about it, it puts into perspective you guys are spending all of your life focused on, "What are we going to eat, what are we going to eat? Where am I going to work? Where am I going to work?" You're actually giving your life away for something that's draining and sucking and choking the life out of you.
The word worry or anxiety in English comes from a German word that means to choke out. Jesus' point is don't make the focus of your life or give your life focus on worrying or dwelling on negative thoughts. It's his attempt to help them better recognize…that's our word…recognize your anxiety, to see it more clearly than it is.
Because here's what happens when we get worried or anxious. It becomes really hard to see anything other than the thing I'm anxious about. I leave a presentation at work wondering, "What did my boss think about me?" I begin to think of it like, "Ah, I bet they didn't like me at all. I bet I'm going to get fired from my job. I'd better update my LinkedIn profile picture. I never know what my LinkedIn password is. Where am I…?" It begins to be like all I can think about is that.
Jesus is just trying to pull his audience back to see more clearly. The mind is a funny thing, especially as it relates to anxiety. It quickly can take something really small and blow it up really big. I read recently that a single glass of water is enough to create a dense fog that's a hundred feet tall and seven city blocks wide.
Like if you're in New York City, or if you've ever been to a big city, and you have seven blocks, you're on the grid system. Seven blocks long, a hundred feet tall. One glass of water stretched into millions and millions and millions and millions of droplets. That's really a picture of what fear and what our mind can do with fearful and anxious thoughts.
Once a thought comes into the fog machine of fear, it gets stretched and pulled and pulled in every different direction. So all of a sudden, it's like, "Man, we had a really bad date. I thought this relationship was going to go somewhere." That enters into the fog machine of fear, and I begin to go, "Oh my gosh, I'm going to end up breaking up with him. He's probably the last chance I have. I have no one else after him. I'm going to be the single cat lady for the rest of my life." All of a sudden, this interaction you had as you were leaving a date becomes, "I'm going to be alone for ever and ever."
Your roommate is moving out, and it enters into the fog machine of fear, and all of a sudden, the thought goes from, "What am I going to do once my roommate moves out to be able to afford rent because I'm splitting it now? How am I going to afford?" That thought enters the fog machine of fear in our minds, and it comes to, "Oh my gosh, I'm not going to be able to live here. If I don't find somebody, I'm going to end up getting kicked to the curb because I can't afford my lease.
I need to find somebody to live with. I don't know anyone who needs a place to live right now. Maybe I could look on Facebook or post something or post something on Craigslist. That feels like a recipe for having a psychotic person move in and murder me in my sleep. My options are be murdered in my sleep or be homeless." All of a sudden, this, "What am I going to do?" enters in and gets stretched and stretched and stretched.
But listen, listen, listen. What if it doesn't have to? What if it was possible in that moment to see your fear more clearly, to see it not as this huge fog but as a glass of water? Jesus' attempt with his audience here is to do just that. To help them recognize, "Why are you anxious? What's really behind that?" Because once you get it down to a glass of water, it's still there, you still have to find a roommate, you still may have had a date that didn't end as well as you wanted it to, but it's a lot easier to deal with, and it deflates some of the power that it has on it.
Jesus did what counselors today… Like I said earlier, my wife is a counselor. If you go see her, she would do, or many counselors do, something similar, where they try to ask questions with the goal of deflating the power of your worry. If you express, "I'm anxious about this," they'll ask you question and help you try to recognize more and more and see more clearly the thing you're anxious about. I'll explain what I mean.
I about to give you $120 an hour worth of counseling right now for free. So if you just tuned in, it's at least worth your time because you're about to get what would cost you $120 for free right now. Let's say you went in, and you were a little anxious because there are a lot of layoffs going on right now with COVID and with business and with all of that.
You went to see a counselor because you were anxious about losing your job. You sat down with that counselor, and you were like, "Man, I'm just anxious about whether or not I'm going to be able to keep my job. I may get laid off. There are layoffs coming." The counselor would sit down, and she'd say, or he'd say, "What happens if you get laid off?"
You begin to go, "Well, I wouldn't be able to afford rent. I'd have to move out of where I'm living. I'd probably have to move back in with my parents." They'd respond, "What happens if you have to move back in with your parents?" "Well, then, I'd feel like a total failure. Everyone is going to be like I'm the guy who failed in life, and I moved back in with my parents. I'm 28 years old, and all of a sudden, I'm just a failure."
You know what's funny? In that made-up storyline I just gave there, he goes in and he thinks, "I'm anxious about losing my job." He's really anxious about being seen as a failure, or he's really anxious about what other people think about him. In order for him to address and face or fight his anxiety, he has to be able to face what he's actually anxious about.
In other words, he's anxious over what others think. If he's going to chase down and experience freedom from that, he has to be able to see, "What am I actually anxious about?" The first idea from this text, as I've already said, was recognizing, "What am I anxious about really?"
Jesus, over and over throughout the Gospels, asks a really funny question to his disciples on multiple occasions. There's like scary stuff going on. They're on a boat in Matthew, chapter 8, and we're told that… I mean, these are all professional fisherman, Jesus' disciples, or most of them were. They've been on a boat. They get it. They've been on rocky waters.
We're told this storm that was crazy…it was like an earthquake the text says…on the water was out there. Jesus was asleep in the middle of the boat on a pillow. That's what we're told in the verses. They're over there, and all the disciples are panicking and freaking out. They wake up Jesus, and they're like, "Jesus, we're all going to die." He wakes up, wipes the sleep out of his eyes, and says, "Peace! Be still." He tells the wind and waves and water to stop, like he's talking to a toddler, and everything stops.
Then he asks a really interesting question. He looks at his guys and says, "Why are you afraid?" Jesus, you're God, so you know everything anyway. Why would you ask a question like that? That's like, "Hey, there's an earthquake happening and tons of stuff tumbling all around us, and we're all terrified, and all of a sudden, it stops, and you come up, and you're like, 'Why were you afraid?' Because I'm in an earthquake, and things are falling all around! That's an insensitive, dumb question. Why are you even asking that?"
Jesus was helping his disciples see, "What are you afraid of?" My guess is they would say, "Of dying." "Why are you afraid of dying? I've already told you you're going to be with me forever and ever and ever. You know I'm in control of everything, including the wind, the waves, and every day you live. Why are you afraid?"
The same question you have to chase down, if you experience anxiety, every time. There's something beneath the surface you have to know. Why am I afraid? What am I anxious about really? Maybe a really helpful exercise would be for you to sit down and go, "I'm anxious about because [blank]."
I'm anxious to talk at my workplace because I'm afraid of what my boss will think, because I'm afraid my idea might not be great. I'm anxious about getting married because I'm afraid of I'm going to get divorced like my parents. I'm anxious about being single the rest of my life because I'm afraid I'm going to die alone.
In order for you to address any of those anxieties, and we're going to talk about how to address them, you would first have to recognize and be willing to accept them. You cannot address what you won't accept. Too many Christians try to pretend like they're not anxious about something. Often because other Christians tell them, "You need to stop being anxious and stop worrying about things," which is not helpful. They would stop if they could. Telling them to stop doesn't help them.
No one has ever told me the story of like, "Do you know what fixed my anxiety? Shame. I just had people around me saying you should be ashamed of yourself for being anxious." No. People would tell them, "You should stop being anxious." That just makes them more anxious about the fact they're anxious. I want you to accept. You may have never heard somebody ever tell you that before. Accept your anxiety so that you can address it. Hiding it or pretending it's not there is not more spiritual; it's living in denial. What are you anxious about really?
So once you know, now, the roots of your anxiety step two involves saying, "I'm going to address what's underneath those." Anxiousness, fear, and worry are all emotions. So every time I experience worry or anxiety, it's an emotion. Here's what you have to know about emotions. This is going to be thinking cap on. We're going to move through quickly the root of your anxiety. What's underneath it. Because you can't fix it if you don't address the roots.
Anxiety is an emotion. Every emotion you experience involves the intersection of two things. It involves something you believe intersecting with something you value. You cannot experience emotion and you cannot experience anxiety, because anxiety is an emotion, without it involving something you believe about something you value. You can't experience freedom from anxiety without addressing something you believe intersecting with something you value, because it's an emotion.
Let me explain, because you're probably like, "What? Is it really? Let me think of an example of it." Every time you feel anxiety, there's something you value, it's place. So when I go outside today when I get home, or tonight, or tomorrow, if I see a squirrel running in the street, I feel nothing. I'm not anxious. I don't feel anything. Even if I wanted to feel anxious, I wouldn't feel anxiety. I would feel like, "Oh, that's a squirrel. It's what they do. It's kind of their thing. They run back and forth. They look for acorns or whatever they're doing." I would feel nothing.
If I see a child I value way more than a squirrel running in the street, I'm going to feel fear, concern. I'm going to run toward him and say, "Get out of the street! There could be a car coming." When I see my child, something of incredible value to me, something I value, running in the street, I feel tremendous fear. It's going to move me out of that emotion to act, to yell, to run and pull them out of the street because I feel something I value is being threatened.
It also involves a belief. What do I mean by that? I mean if I see my wife with our kids. They're out in the front yard. They're walking through the lawn on our grass, and she's walking toward what I believe is a snake. I see it from afar, and I see what I believe is a snake intersecting with someone I value, my wife, I'm going to feel anxiety and yell, "Don't go closer! That's a snake!" because something I value is intersecting about something I believe…it could be or it is a snake.
Here's what's really interesting. This is really profoundly helpful as it relates to anxiety. Whether or not it is a snake doesn't matter. If I believe it is, or I believe it could be, I'll feel anxiety. It's not about what's true, whether it is a snake or not; it's about what I believe or what I believe could be true.
So if you're going to conquer, if you want to experience freedom, from anxiety, if you want to take steps in the direction of peace, you're going to have to address, "What am I believing, and what am I valuing underneath this? What is informing this?" If you do, you will begin to experience freedom or more peace every time you feel anxiety that's underneath there.
Here's further why this is important. You're what you believe and what you value, even if you've been walking with Jesus for a long time. we're all a byproduct of the world environment, the family we grew up in. We were shaped. We didn't even know. None of us woke up today and were, "Do you know what? I believe some things, and I think I value some things." They were formed our entire life.
You were raised in a family where they never told you, "Believe money is the most important thing, son." But you've heard phrases like, "Son, the most important thing you can do is get a good job that's stable to be able to put food on the table." You've heard, "Most important thing I can do." Somewhere along the line you began to go, "That is the most important thing I can do."
Now if your job is threatened, or money is threatened because you some point picked up, and it began to impact the way you think, what you believe, you feel anxiety because you were shaped by parents or by people, by friends, who said, "Hey, this is the most important thing." Now you're anxious if it's threatened. It's why two people can be in the same exact circumstance, and one by anxious and one not, because they have different beliefs, different values.
Some of you were raised in a home where you were taught conflict is a really bad thing. You don't fight. You never have conflict, or your parents always hid it from you. Or you were raised in a home where they fought all the time. They fought in a way that wasn't healthy, and it really scarred you. Now today, any time you're in a dating relationship and you start having conflict, you get really anxious, and you want to leave the dating relationship because you believe that conflict is a bad thing.
That's not what the Bible teaches. It says conflict can be a good thing. It's a chance to honor God, and it's a chance to grow closer, but you picked up at some point without even knowing it conflict is a bad thing. So now you feel anxiety. If you don't want to feel anxiety when you have conflict in a relationship, you won't just stop, you won't just, "I won't anymore," you have to address, "Oh, I feel anxiety because I believe conflict is a bad thing." You have to address the roots that are underneath those if you want to experience freedom from anxiety.
So quick recap. To remove anxious thoughts, we have to recognize, "What am I anxious about really? What am I anxious about?" Then I have to recognize, "What are the roots? What are the beliefs? What am I believing and valuing?"
I'm anxious about getting married because I want to have kids because I don't think life is worth living if I don't have kids. Is that true? It's what you believe, but it may not be true. It's not true. Life is not worth living if you can't have kids? Jesus' life was not worth living? The apostle Paul's life was not worth living? That's ridiculous. But somewhere in there you may believe that. So you have to address, "Where am I believing a lie?"
How do I know if it's a lie? That gives us step three. You recognize what God says about those roots. I take all those beliefs. I take, "I don't know that life is worth living if I don't have kids." What would the Bible say about that? I take the Bible, and I begin to put it up and go, "Oh, it says kids are a blessing from the Lord, but they're not the source of life. They're not even what life is about. You can have the abundant life and never have kids. Wow! I bought a lie."
It says money is not the source of security; God is. So now when my job is threatened, I don't have to experience anxiety. Or if I'm concerned about money, I'm not going to experience anxiety because I'm applying what the Bible says, which is God is the source of security and provision, not money. That's the truth.
You may not believe it, which is why when your bank account goes up and down, you begin to get worried because you don't believe God is the ultimate source of provision, but that's the truth. If you want to experience freedom from that anxiety you feel, you have to go at those beliefs with the truth from God's Word, or you can just keep worrying.
We're about the land the plane. In Hebrews 4:12, it says, "For the word of God…" The Bible even says, "Hey, I was designed!" God's Word was designed to cut the roots of your anxious feelings, to get at them and give you freedom from them. It says, "For the word of God is…sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow…" How cool does that sound? Like Braveheart.
"…it is able to judge…" Listen to this. It is able to sift through or discern or "…judge the desires and thoughts of the heart." The desires. That's the things you value. The thoughts. That's the beliefs of your heart. It's able to go through and go, "Hey, this is actually a lie. That's not actually true. Conflict is not a bad thing."
Hey, what other people think about you, it shouldn't own you, and it shouldn't wreck you because you should be living according to the Bible in Galatians 1, for God and an audience of him. Other people, whether they think good about you or bad, it shouldn't wreck your life. God ultimately controls even what people think about you.
You begin to take all those truths and all of a sudden, instead of anxiety when I'm leaving, I'm going, "My job isn't the source of security in my life; God is. He owns everything there is. He could give me a million dollars tomorrow if he wanted to, or he could just give me whatever a million could lead to. He's the source of provision in my life," because I'm attacking whatever lies are underneath there.
Every time I experience anxiety right now, if you feel it this week, it tells you something you value you believe is possibly threatened, and now I take all of that, and I begin to go, "What would God say about this? How does God's Word inform this?" That's why we're so big on Community Groups. It's why we're big on you being equipped. Because it takes work to know what the Bible says. Go to watermark.org/ministries/equipping if you're interested in knowing like, "Man, I want to know my Bible better to be able to do this better."
Ultimately, it's like this. I hope you walk away from this message because it's just a starter. When I go to the mall… I hate going to the mall, by the way. Who likes going to the mall here? I hate going to the mall. Here's one of the reasons why. I get this feeling every time I walk in there. It's like I can't breathe. It's like the walls are closing in.
It's like a weird Vegas meets clothing everywhere. There are no windows anywhere, and I don't know where I'm going. I go up one escalator, and it just takes me to a top of another place. I'm just like I don't feel comfortable. It's probably control issues where I don't know exactly where I am right now. If I can avoid it, I avoid it. I don't want to brag. I've been pretty successful in being able to avoid it.
I do all of my shopping online. I don't go to the mall. I never go to the mall. I can't tell you the last time I even went shopping at the mall. With one exception. The Apple Store. Every year at some point inevitably my screen on my phone will crack, or something will happen, and I've so ingrained my life with Apple that I have to end up going to the store, because you can't just send it in.
I have to go to the mall, and I do the same thing every time. I never know where to park, so I call my wife, ask, "Where do I park?" If I can't get her on the phone, I'm like, "Well, I'll just roll the dice again," and I end up parking the entirely opposite direction of wherever the Apple Store is. I get out of the car, and I go in there and try to figure out, "Where do I go now?"
Your grandma and I go to the last physical map in society, that little kiosk thing. It has a whole map in double layers, and you're like, "Oh, where am I right now?" Glasses on. I try to figure out, "Where am I?" Every time I look at that map, I do two things. I look, "Where is the Apple Store?" and, "Where am I?" You know that little star that says, "You are here"? I look, "Where is the Apple Store?" and, "Where am I?" Because it's not just important of, "Oh! Apple Store." This is of no value unless I know, "Oh! Me." If I don't where I am, I cannot get to where I want to be.
This is how it is in terms of anxiety. If you don't recognize where you are… I'm anxious about this. I anxious about whether or not I'm going to have a job next year. I'm anxious about whether or not I'm going to be able to afford to continue to save. I'm anxious about whether or not this relationship is going to work out.
If you're unwilling to say, "This is where I am. I'm right here. I want to go right here," you're never going to get to where you want to go. You're never going to move in the direction of peace in that illustration because you won't accept where you are. This entire first message is just you have to recognize, "Why am I anxious?" Recognize, "What are the roots below that anxiety?" Then recognize, "What would God's Word say about that?"
If you want to experience freedom, that is not going to end it, it's not going to make every anxious feeling you ever have go away, but it will help you take a step, because you can't get to where you want to go if you won't accept where you are. God's Word, in that map illustration, becomes the guiding line of, "Oh, this is what I need to do. It helps me understand how far off I am, and how I get to the place of peace."
It takes day by day by day, which is why at the end of this passage Jesus says, "It's going to take one day at a time." One day at a time. "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow…" It has enough to worry about. You focus on today. First, you have to recognize, "What am I anxious about?"
Others of you, you need to recognize (and you're tuning in) the biggest thing you need to walk away with is not, "Hey, how do I get to where I want to be in terms of peace?" You need to recognize that where you are in relationship with God is you have been separated and cut off because you've never accepted what Jesus did on the cross, dying for you.
Why do I say you've been separated? The Bible teaches, our life experience shows us, that anytime sin comes into a relationship, like you wrong somebody, it hurts the relationship. All of us in our lives have sinned in a way over and over and over that it has hurt our relationship, it has cut us off from a perfect, loving, holy God. That's where you are on the map.
The good news is God sent his Son into the world so you wouldn't have to be separated from him. He could bring you home. But the only way you could be reconnected or restored, end up at the place you want to be, is by putting your faith in what Jesus did on the cross for you, for me. He died for everything you ever did, and he paid for it.
What you need to walk away with is not, "How do I not be anxious?" but, "How can I have eternal life?" because you're going to keep being anxious in this life, because the biggest thing you should worry about is you are the person who is paying for your sins, and you don't have enough in the bank to pay for them. God already paid more than enough, and he has invited you, "Trust in me, and you'll experience peace in this life as you walk with me, and eventually for all of eternity."
If that's where you are, tonight is your night, and by faith, you can just say, "God, I'm a sinner. I trust you. I want your help. I want you to do therapy in my life, and I want you to restore me to a relationship with you," Let me pray.
Father, I pray for every person listening right now. Anxiety is such a huge part of all of our lives, at times, and for many of us right now. Would you pierce through our fear? Help us see you through the midst of all of it. Help us to be willing to accept, "I'm anxious about this," and then help us to be diligent and earnest to address, "What does God's Word say about this?" Or am I maybe believing a lie? I'm afraid of losing something you say is important, but it's not all that life is about.
Would you help me? Would you help my friends? Would you be more real than the fear right now? We love you. Thank you for Jesus, who has made a way for all of us to get back to relationship with you forever, the one who wants us to experience peace, the one called the Prince of Peace, who we would walk with him and experience that now. Amen.