Arrogance, Anxiety, & Answered Prayers
KYLE WADE // MISSIONS & COLLEGE INTERN
Let me share some things I’ve prayed for specifically for a long time (as in, repeatedly over the last year…at the least).
I’ve prayed for opportunities to teach and share the gospel.
I’ve prayed for peace and the ability to fight anxiety long term.
I’ve prayed for the Lord to help my unbelief.
I’ve prayed for a love for the church.
Let me explain why these have been my prayers (still are) and why they mean so much to me.
I am arrogant. I often undermine the sovereignty of the Lord and think that He needs me on His team. This week I’ve been reminded that, rather, I’m just fortunate to play a part in the work He’s already doing.
I wrestle with anxiety. Whether it is solely my sinful nature, or stupidity, or a mental disposition, I know it doesn’t honor or please the Lord. I’ve finally taken more serious steps to fight it, including counseling, confessing more often, and asking for help and prayer from the church. It’s painful…but humbling. It makes me love Jesus more, because there are a lot of times I can’t see Him or hear Him on my own.
I often equate following Jesus with packing up and moving overseas, because my favorite mentors have literally done those things. To be fair, I think we can learn a lot from their examples and should emulate that level of sacrifice in our own context.
However, I’ve realized while I’ve had my fingers crossed for a calling overseas, I should be willing to stay just as much as willing to go. Am I willing to work a 9-5 job in Georgia for the rest of my life if it would bring the Lord glory? I hate that question and still hurt thinking about it. But finally, I see my fault. The answer is yes; Jesus is my joy, not travel or adventure. I do love travel and I do love adventure, and sometimes following Jesus includes those things. But those things would simply be a bonus, not my first love and true treasure.
Through older men at Watkinsville, I’ve seen that lives I used to look at as mundane and uneventful often emulate Jesus more than the exciting, adventure filled one I dream of. These men count others more significant than themselves, they die to themselves daily on the Monday-to-Friday grind, they serve and ask for nothing in return.
In all things, they imitate Jesus clearly and sacrificially.
While there’s still a need for people to go to the unreached, and while I still see comfort as a silent danger to the church, the Lord has shown me there is such godliness in the church. I should seek to emulate Jesus far more than desiring an overly stamped passport or cross-cultural lifestyle.
In all that I’ve written above, I want to make my point very clear: I just want to praise God for answering these prayers above and hopefully share some of what I’m learning. Here’s how He has answered:
He’s made older men available when I felt most alone.
He’s given me family and people willing to pray for me and cry with me when I felt most unloved and afraid.
He’s given me opportunities to share the gospel with people I’ve forgotten about and made me free and available at just the right moments.
He’s given an opportunity to teach the very passage I needed in the midst of suffocating fears and crippling anxiety. I was asked to teach Philippians 4:8-9, the passage that calls us to think about excellent, praiseworthy, and lovely things. The Lord gave me a chance to do what I love in teaching, but also gave me exactly the truth I needed in the hardest week I’ve had this year. While I’ve sinfully trained my mind to think negative thoughts, operate mainly by fear, and worry about tomorrow, the Lord reminded me that following Jesus involves pursuing virtue in equal measure to fighting sin. While we turn ‘away’ from sin, we must simultaneously ‘set our gaze’ on Jesus. Both components matter to our sanctification, and I leaned far too strongly on defeating my sinful mental struggles with my own mind.
It hasn’t worked.
I’ve been fixated on fixing myself as if to eventually overcome anxiety as a once-and-for-all deal and finally be right with Jesus. But I’ve been encouraged to look at Jesus and forget my problems—which feels uncomfortable and irresponsible to me and requires a lot of faith. But, I’ve seen that Jesus is trustworthy. I must seek Him and think about Him often. I can’t solely 'avoid' sin; I must also pursue good.
If I die today in the middle of my counseling schedule and never 'finish' my therapy, I will see Jesus and taste the joy of eternity. I don’t have to 'finish.' That’s a freeing thought for me.
All this mess of prayers and thoughts to say: God is good, has answered many prayers for me, is working through my pain, is worth dying for and selling everything for. He is worth working a boring job and living an obscure life for. He has provided mentors and living examples to follow, and He truly loves me.
I share my praises and struggles simply to say: the same is true for you. You are treasured and cared for and can know peace like this. Your Father cares deeply.