Hope For Anxious Hearts

My first 2 years as a Christian I was a ball of anxiety.

Every morning I awoke with a knot in my stomach and an invisible hand on my throat.? All day long I’d suck in shallow quivering breaths and exhale, trying to relax.? I was stuck in a job from Gehenna, clueless as to my future, my finances were a train wreck, and I was about as organized as an anthill after being blown up by an M-80.

I’d forget to do important things, like pay my taxes,? maintain my car.? One bitter January night I cracked the engine block on my first car, a blue Plymouth Fury.? For some reason I had thought I could substitute water for antifreeze.? So when I cranked up Ol’ Blue that night, I couldn’t understand why smoke began billowing out from under the hood.

I pleaded with Jesus regularly for peace, but was still anxious.? Then one day he gave me a picture of a tangled, knotted ball of yarn and spoke to my heart, “Mark, your life is like that ball of yarn.? You’ve messed it up, but I will sort it out, strand by strand, day by day, and eventually you will have my peace.”

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (IS 26.3).

God would sort it out. My job was to keep my mind stayed on him – on his character and promises in Scripture.? As I did this, mustering whatever faith I could, he’d provide peace.

Our circumstances scream things like, “You have no resources, no hope of a job! You’ll never marry.? Your teenager will never accept the Lord.? You’re doomed!”? If we keep our minds stayed on our circumstances, we’ll never find peace.

When life’s breakers threaten to swamp us, we must grab our minds by the scruff of the neck, make them look up and insist, “Behold your God: sovereign, faithful and loving!? Somehow he will provide for me, because he’s promised to meet all my needs according to his riches in Christ!”

When I began to do this, I started tasting God’s peace little by little, drop by drop, sip by sip.? Eventually the anxiety evaporated.

As my little boat continues to sail through the squalls of life, I still must anchor my mind on Christ, trusting him for my children, my church, and myself.? As I do he calms my heart.? Even when my cars blow up.? I really should start reading the manuals…

photo by today is a good day

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.