My soul is anxious this week. It’s a mixture of running a million thoughts through my mind at once and desperately wanting some peace.
Shalom was my word for 2015. I had several panic attacks and wanted to stop the crazy. But the crazy didn’t stop. I don’t think it ever really does. Instead, I hung onto the Word and learned to abide in a new, deeper way. I learned to set scripture before my eyes, to remind myself of it even and especially when I’m performing the most mundane tasks.
“I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Psalms 16:8
This is the soul of my art. This setting the Lord always before me, in the ways that He moves and the ways that He speaks to me. This is how my soul was meant to operate, centered in God.
I have let so many foxes come in. I have ushered them into the vineyards to steal the grapes.
Jean Fleming writes in Between Walden and the Whirlwind, “To live for the approval of men is to live with tension and anxiety.” And I have lived looking for the approval of men for so long.
But here, at the edge of our wilderness, we have battles. Not preparation battles. Real battles. Battles not against flesh and blood but against powers, against the princes, against the forces of darkness. Our battles take on human flesh, but they are anything but human. And looking for approval, seeking out likes and comments and shares and pats on the back? Those just aren’t important enough to make me go on or to keep me back.
My goal is faithfulness.
My goal is obedience.
My goal is to take direction from the Father and to please Him.
That can look pretty lonely. It can also fuel community because, hey, it’s not about me. In fact, my biggest prayer right now is for unity in the church. Not the fake smile and the nicety or the politeness that is so often praised. Not the false hospitality that means covering up flaws and hiding wounds instead of allowing someone to come by and tenderly care to them.
And does it have to be one or the other? Does it have to be either fake politeness or overwhelming someone? Are we letting God be our first and foremost Friend or are we intentionally saving it all for those who are also human and hurting?
I have a lot of questions and no answers.
But I do have this answer. I do have this hope, a light for my soul. I have His Word.
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who had qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Colossians 1:11-12, ESV
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Colossians 1:28-29, ESV
These are the verses that are charging me to keep the faith these days. These are the words that encourage, uplift, and inspire me. This is the message that I want to impart to anyone who will listen: You are qualified. You can be given endurance and patience with joy, so stop fighting for it! You do the toiling and the struggling and He will powerfully give you the energy that you desperately need. Keep. Going.
Whatever it is that you wish were gone or destroyed or broken, just keep fighting through it. Keep His Word nearby. Take every thought captive and focus it all back to the One who knows our thoughts.