learning to depend on God when anxious

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

I certainly have had other problems, but I think my longest, persistent problem has been anxiety. Sometimes in the past, smothered in it for days at a time. Better in recent years, but still not that good.

More recently, I’ve begun to experience what I think is something of a breakthrough for me. The passage above has been my main go to thoughts in trying to deal with this, and still is. The difference I think somehow might lie in the depth in which I’m pursuing this. But it’s probably more simple than that.

I tend to be a person of words, connecting with words, thinking through things with words, processing life largely that way, not enough with God’s beauty and in other ways. And I likely did that with this passage, thinking as long as I do such and such, then God will respond, but maybe more like on a conceptual level, than personally.

Maybe not that much difference, but now I realize it all depends on God, quite personal. It is kind of a mystical approach, but quite real for us Christians. I realize that when I’m concerned about something, whether as a possibility or a reality I’m having to deal with, that I can’t get rid of the anxious feelings which arise and often the numbness that follows. I can only bring my concerns to God, just as the passage tells us above. And wait for him.

Invariably, God comes through. That takes away panic, gives me perspective, and brings needed peace of heart and mind. Only from God in answer to prayer right in the midst of the struggle. In and through Jesus.

the limitations of writing/second thoughts

Every once in a while, I start thinking a bit, and somewhat through about the limitations of writing, and specifically of what I do as a rule in writing a post everyday (except for Sunday) on this blog. My thinking when I get to this place has evolved, so that I’m ready now to accept the thought that my writing can have value in its place, and may help someone along the way, and as I have thought, and a friend recently said, it’s a part of my ongoing journey in sorting out things, trying to think through life, and specifically life in God through Christ.

We all have our elements and niches, some we’ve developed a skill in because we’ve had to in order to earn a living, true in my case. And others with which we have a natural attraction to, and affinity. I have always loved books, but have not been as good a reader as I would have liked. Just the same, they’re usually a companion, even if the learnedness some people think I have is actually second hand from people who really have read the sources, such as Karl Barth and the classics.

But while we each have the special thing we like to do, we could say, our element, humble as it may be, whether painting, music, science, whatever, none of that gets at the core of our being. We are all more than that. I remember the story of Thomas Aquinas, truly one of the greatest Christian minds, one of the greatest minds ever. Toward the end of his life, he has some kind of vision, maybe toward the Beatific vision of barely scratching the surface in apprehending as in knowing God. And he felt like all his writings, great as they actually were and are, were essentially worthless. He had in a sense seen the Truth, and the words he had written paled in comparison.

I find it interesting, for myself, that I can write a post, more or less be in it, and then forget it completely afterward. Often they’re written as an afterthought on reflections from my own life, as well as life in general, hopefully informed and formed by scripture, the gospel being the center in and through Christ, leading us to the life of the Trinity in and through him: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I think whatever time I have left, I may want to major more on meditation and prayer. Maybe I’m a bit of a mystic at heart, certainly monastic and liturgical in my orientation, but in a loose way, given the life that I lead. But prayer, and working at that, and seeking to grow and become more familiar and at home in the rhythms that come from that, with for me scripture and the gospel being center in that, seems like it is at least the stopping place for me now, and perhaps the resting place from now on. Although such can easily be lost or weakened in the mayhem of life.

I am not crazy about all these “I’s,” “me’s” and “mines” so to speak, but we have to think of faith in relation to our lives as individuals, and together with others in the essential community of this life, and ultimately in the community of God. We each have our story to tell, our witness of God’s faithfulness in and through Jesus, and we’re on a different part of what for each of us is a unique journey, along with others on their unique journeys, while at the same time having to deal with the same things and with the same destination.

I hope I can keep writing, as long as life and mind allows, because that’s something I enjoy doing, hopefully with some benefit for a few along with myself as I share thoughts in common with us all. But I am aware of a new chapter which it seems I’m entering. We’ll see each other along the way and especially at the end, as we go on through this life, and especially in and through Jesus. As we seek to find our way more and more in and through him.

mysticism

By faith we know, as the book of Hebrews tells us. Yet at the same time we have good evidence enough to make a sound rationale for why we hold to the Christian faith, specifically in terms of the resurrection account of Jesus, and the aftermath of that.

But there is a certain element of mysticism inherent to our faith, which smacks against the naturalism which many in the academics hold to (though certainly not all). By mysticism I mean something which can’t be explained according to the natural, everyday occurrence of things we observe and experience. And by this I don’t at all mean a kind of god of the gaps, by which we explain all we can’t explain by ascribing it to God and God’s miraculous working.

This sort of Christian mysticism is inherent in God himself (or, God’s Self) as Trinity, as well as entering into creation through the Incarnation when the Word became flesh in Jesus. And the faith is now received and lived out through the Spirit. This mysticism is also relevant in terms of heaven and earth becoming one in and through Jesus, beginning now, but someday to be realized fully and completely when Jesus reappears, the new creation being completed in him.

I like sound, coherent explanations, and therefore I like scientific endeavor, even though I don’t naturally think well with reference to it, but rather am an admirer of it. But even within that realm, while in theory everything may be explainable, we know in practice that what is found as humans are able to more and more probe the depths of things, is just how mind boggling reality is.

But when you bring a Creator into the picture, one immediately has to accept the idea of faith. Faith in something which cannot be observed or experienced in the normal way humans go about life. Though that last thought does open up big questions when we think of love. Yes, we could make that into nothing more than natural responses and grind that down even further into elements and what is behind that, naturally speaking. But is that even rational in itself, really? Of course it would be in terms of naturalism, but what about in terms of life itself as we live it?

Mysticism to some extent saves the day for me. I mean it ends up that God in Jesus by the Spirit makes all the difference in my life. And that difference is in regard to big and small matters. In every matter. But it’s a mysticism as alluded to above (ref: Jesus’ resurrection) which has its foot in the real world. Which lives in the same mess and blessing in which the rest of humankind lives (give or take starkly different circumstances globally).

It ends up being “me and God” to some extent (of course understood in terms of God being the center). And me and others in God through Jesus. Together in Jesus living out this mystic faith and life in and for the world.