When Flocks of Geese Attack: Dealing With Anxiety
Why is it that in the middle of a restless night, worries come at you like a flock of geese relentlessly honking and snipping, demanding the bread in your hand? As soon as you give a morsel to one, another comes charging at you.
As I write this, it’s 2:30 am. I’ve been lying awake due to mid-life hormonal power surges and a persistent snore beside me. Before I rose, my personal flock of geese was closing in, snatching my peace thought by anxious thought.
Question: What do you do when worries surround you?
In the spirit of Family Feud: “Survey says … pray!”
I’m guessing that “pray” is the number one answer for anyone reading this devotional, and that’s a good answer!
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you,” and the first order of casting off anxiety is to open up conversation with our Father.
Sometimes I tell God about my troubles as if he were an ordinary friend, explaining to him the situation and my questions and fears.
But the Lord is so much more than an ear to bend. He is, of course, well … bigger.
Let’s review, Class. He is:
The list goes on. I’d like to add one more: Near.
Remember Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” He is with us in the presence of enemies, whether tangible or intangible.
I’m so thankful that although God is everywhere, he is also near. We do have troubles in this world. But it’s comforting to know that whatever besieges us, we do not face it alone, even if we’re battling in the middle of the night. He is always near and always awake.
When I turn to the Lord for help, I must continually remember to “cast” my cares upon Him. That is, I have to make sure I’ve done more than just vent my feelings in prayer. I must release the burden to Him in faith, because He is faithful.
In other words, I have to divest myself of the habit of rehashing the whole scenario.
The Amplified Bible opens up 1 Peter 5:7 in the context of giving (casting) our concerns to God: “… the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.”
I need to digest that: “All of your worries, once and for all, because he cares for you,” and may I add again, this is a really BIG God who watchfully cares for you.
Finally, I will share an exercise that helps me release my burdens, although it is fairly juvenile. It goes like this: my son has shared that he and his teammates are traveling to North Carolina for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
Eventually, after I pray about his safety, my imagination will evoke anxiety, in this case, by presenting the scene of a terrible wreck. I then picture a red (appropriate for alert or fiery trial, yes?) helium balloon representing my specific fear. Sometimes I envision the burden written on the balloon, such as “Keep Jordan safe.” Then I let it go, and watch it waft up, up and away. Then I remind myself that I have released this fear to a big, omnipotent God who loves my son more than I do.
Now it is 4:00 am, and I’m getting sleepy. If the geese encircle again, I will stand my ground and say, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust” (Psalm 4:8). And if I have to, I will release a big bouquet of red balloons one by one until I drift off under His watchful eye.
1. Do you ever find yourself merely bending God’s ear in prayer instead of trusting Him for peace and resolution?
2. Is there a mental image or exercise that would work for you to help you release burdens for which you’ve already prayed?
3. Which scripture would be most helpful for you to have at the ready when geese attack?
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