The Daunting Power to Choose

By faith Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time

Hebrews 11:24-25

The Biblical story of Moses, the reluctant emancipator of the Israelites, is a fascinating read. Starting in the second chapter of Exodus, the saga unfolds with a plot worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

I’ll spare you the details, as you already know or can check it out for yourself. However, I’d like to focus on two toxic thoughts Moses faced that involve us all, together with the antidote Jesus provides.

If Only <<<rewind

Moses was a Hebrew baby saved by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as her own son; a prince of Egypt. Yet when he grew up, he chose advocacy for his own people over a life of affluence and power. But one disastrous day, defending his kinsfolk went too far, when he murdered an Egyptian he found beating a Hebrew (Exodus 2:11-15). When Pharaoh found out, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses ran away, disappearing into the desert.

There, on the back side of the wilderness, Moses served his new father-in-law as a shepherd. He’d gone from a prince who could actually help his own people to a simple sheep herder in the middle of nowhere!

Standing in the blazing sun counting sheep, Moses must have said to himself a hundred times, “If only I’d not lost my temper and killed that Egyptian foreman.” But it was a mute point, what happened happened and no amount of regret could erase it.

Like Moses, I’ve said my share of “If onlys.” Yet it hasn’t gotten me anywhere either.

What If? >>>fast forward

One day, while on sheep duty, Moses sees a bush on fire that isn’t burning up. Curious, he goes over to it, only to hear the voice of God Himself, “Moses, Moses.” It turns out the Almighty wants Moses to go back to Egypt and finish the job–freeing his people from slavery.

This time, however, our hero is not so eager to jump into the fray.

Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?

Exodus 3:11

This is followed by several “what if” questions. “What if they don’t believe me.” “What if I don’t know what to say? Remember, God, I stutter!”

Like Moses, I’ve said my share of “What ifs.” But worrying about the future hasn’t helped me either.

The Antidote

Near the conclusion of his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus speaks to the worry-warts in the audience. He basically says, “Folks, when you worry you’re like a hamster on a wheel–all worked up but going nowhere. Look to God first and everything else will fall into place (Matthew 6:33).”

Christ then says the following, comforting insomniacs like me ever since:

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

Effectively dealing with depression or anxiety means living in the NOW. Therefore, henceforth, I choose to keep the rewinds and fast-forwards to a minimum. I’m just going to press “>play” and take each moment as it comes.

Care to join me?

The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.

Abraham Maslow
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A Trip Down the Stairs

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Heal me, Oh Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise

Jeremiah 17:14

If you fall head-first down a flight of stairs, you’ll be in the hospital for a week and your friends will feel sorry for you. But take an emotional tumble, that FEELS like somersaulting into a wine cellar, and your loved ones may not understand. After all, falling down a flight of stairs is an accident, but FEELING like you’ve done a cerebral cartwheel into the basement is not.

In truth, injuries to the psyche are ALL to REAL, and they leave the scars to prove it.

Confession: I’m a tortured artist type who occasionally struggles with roller-coaster emotions. But I don’t decide to be anxious or sad any more than I’d choose to physically fall down a flight of stairs. I’m simply one of many who struggle with inexplicable negative feelings.

From the dizzying heights of anxiety, to the double loops of despondency, I’ve experienced the whole enchilada.

Yet the coolest thing is, God always rides along–rooting for me the whole way (Jeremiah 29:11)–and, when it’s over, I always return to a healthier perspective.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon

So please don’t steer clear of a melancholic buddy. Come along side; ask about their well being. Then bring them back upstairs for some hot chamomile tea and a nap.

Disclaimer:
I speak from my own experience. Your situation may be different. If you struggle with long term anxiety and/or depression, please seek professional help.

If you’re still alive, it’s not too late

Regular David (me)

Don’t Feed the Fears

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

My family loves to celebrate Independence Day, but our little dog doesn’t. To say she’s afraid of fireworks is putting it mildly.

Sami, a terrier mix, is the picture of tenaciousness. Need a rodent out of the shed? She’s your girl. Just leave the door open and she’ll come out in a few minutes with one in her mouth. But when fireworks fly, our little spitfire turns into a drama queen.

Just so you have the picture: she shakes, cries, slobbers, whines, and generally runs around inconsolably. Plus, once the fireworks start, she absolutely refuses to go outside to potty. I forgot to say we live in a small town where it’s LEGAL for EVERYONE to pop firecrackers on July 4.

Every year, we come up with a game plan to mitigate Sami’s fears. We try to schedule her outside potty breaks between barrages, and take road trips to areas that are fireworks free. No, we haven’t tried a “Thunder Shirt.” Maybe next year.

Doggie yoga doesn’t work either.

Last night, we left the house at dusk–just before the “festivities” started– and made our way to a firework-less town where no outdoor displays were planned. Sami enjoyed a walk at a park and we drove around a bit. So far so good.

“Let’s get some ice cream,” I said, trying to not seem anxious. But as we got closer to our favorite little shop, there were flashes ahead in the distance.

Oh NO! The casino up ahead must have gotten a special permit; they were putting on a HUGE display and we were headed straight for it!


Too late. Sami was already shaking like a leaf; time to turn around.

Sometime early on July 5 we made it home in one piece, and everyone began to calm down.

A day later, what happened reads like a second-rate dystopian novel–where every moment comes complete with its own artillery.

Thank God there’s a plan for such emergencies. “I’ve got this,” says the Almighty. “Just drive away from the fireworks.”

Don’t feed the fears.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/07/05/dont-feed-the-fears/

A Brush With a Bobcat

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You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

At twilight this morning, I crossed paths with a bobcat. A medium-sized wildcat native to North America, the bobcat is an elusive and solitary predator. The one I met was about the size of my miniature schnauzer, but with razor-sharp claws and teeth. He paused at the edge of the road and stared back at me as if to say, “You’re in MY territory.”

Anxiety is a bobcat of sorts. It too is an elusive predator that specializes in chance encounters. Often appearing in a dusk or dawn moment of life, it pauses at the edge of the road and stares back at us as if to say, “You’re in MY territory.”

Luckily, my brush with a bobcat ended peacefully. He vanished into the trees just after the brief stare down.

In keeping with the analogy, as a card-carrying anxious person, here are three things I do to manage my encounters with negative-“bobcat”-emotions.

Use Mantras: confront weak emotions with logic.
These are short positive statements said over and over to remind yourself what’s really REAL. My favorite mantras are from the Bible. This verse has gotten me through many a restless night:

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Unplug: occasionally choose solitude over people
Spending time alone is a great way to recharge, recalibrate, and reclaim your emotional well being. This is a life hack Jesus used in his busiest ministry days; He often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16). When anxiety levels rise, try taking a break from anything with a screen–unless it’s a screened in porch!

Don’t fight the feeling: let it pass over you instead.
A soldier friend, who suffers from PTSD, told me he’s learned not to resist the traumatizing pictures in his mind, it only makes them stronger. Instead, he let’s them pass through until they weaken and disperse–like a brief storm.

Hopefully, I can wrap this up with a favorite quote from the movie, “Gladiator”

I knew a man who once said, ‘Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.’

General Maximus (Russell Crowe)

Bobcats and unwelcome emotions are bound to cross our path at times.

Smile back.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/29/a-brush-with-a-bobcat/

It Will Keep

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

People who’ve spent time in submarines, deep under the surface of the ocean, speak of a “sea cushion.” Below a certain depth, the ocean is as smooth as glass–no matter what happens overhead.

This illustration leads me to ponder the unshakable peace that can be found in God’s holiest servants. Each of us can probably think of a believer who trusted God and remained faithful to Him through the most perilous of circumstances. Which begs the question: How does one rest in God while the storm rages?

Rest is not a hallowed feeling that comes over us in church; it is the repose of a heart set deep in God.

Drummond

That’s it! The life that is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:1-3).

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Psalm 91:1

This reminds me of a godly woman who used to live in my little town. She was twice widowed and mostly confined to a wheelchair, yet had the sweetest Christian spirit! Most days, she never ventured outside her home, but friends and neighbors still lined up to see her or called her on the phone. People were drawn to this friend of God who had the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).

One day, I was visiting with Ms. Frieda, as we called her, when her phone rang. However, she continued to speak with me as if nothing was happening. As the phone continued to ring, I said, “Go ahead and answer, Ms. Frieda, I’ll wait.” But she continued to ignore it and said the most amazing three words: “It will keep.”

Today, no matter the disturbance on the surface, may we rest under the sea cushion of Christ. And despite the inevitable distractions, may we respond like Ms. Frieda.

It will keep.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/13/it-will-keep/

Peace That Isn’t Pitiful – Part Two

For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

I’ll just throw this out there: I come from a family of worrywarts.
My dad was a floor pacer, my mom a hand wringer, and my three brothers and I followed suit.

Through the years, one could have easily surmised when I was most stressed; hopeful scripture verses were taped to almost every flat surface!

Here are a two of my all time favorites:

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

Psalm 94:19

There was a time in my life–during grad school–when I could have recited these two verses if woken from a deep sleep at gun point!

But these days, as a middle-aged fussbudget, I’ve learned to turn down the fear faucet. There’s still a drip…drip, but nothing like it used to be.

The turning point came one day when the opening words of 2 Timothy 1:7 finally sunk in: “God hath not given us a spirit of fear.”

You caught it too, I bet. God doesn’t do fear.

He is never afraid, and he doesn’t cause us to be either. God is a peace monger, pure and simple.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Jesus – John 14:27

So, the next time you feel powerless, unloved, or out of your mind, please remember this: it’s not coming from God.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/08/peace-that-isnt-pitiful-part-two/

To read “Peace That Isn’t Pitiful – Part One,” click the link below.

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/davidsdailydose.org/244

One Stop Shop

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“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”

2 Peter 2:3

My wife and I recently fell in love with a particular cream-filled chocolate cake bar that is hard to find.

Wouldn’t you know, our local supermarket put them on sale, and their entire stock disappeared in one day!


NO!!!


We were out of our all time favorite snack; this couldn’t be happening. Almost daily trips to the store revealed the same empty shelf in the cooler. I even slipped the manager of the dairy section my phone number, asking him to call me the moment they came in.

NOTHING HAPPENED…


But then it did. I was digging in the freezer for some steaks to put on the grill and there they were: two pristine milk bars buried under a bag of broccoli.

YES!!!

I was searching like mad for something I already had.

Does this remind anyone else of their walk with God?

Too many times I’ve been like Moses and Jonah and said, “I can’t do that God; please pick someone else.” And God’s response has been, “I’ve already given you everything you need for the job, David. I want you to do it.”

Searching for that ONE THING in your Christian life? Check the freezer; you may already have it.

God is a one stop shop.