Anxiety In Limbo

I feel like the past few weeks have been spent in limbo, waiting to leave for the States. Most of my activities have wrapped up, and Andrew is finishing his last week in the office. We'll be at a ministry conference for a week, then fly out to Kansas City.

We did manage to squeeze in a trip to Bangkok this past weekend for some "routine maintenance", as I like to call our dental and medical check-ups. It's always a good idea to make sure we aren't carrying any nasty parasites or bugs back to the States with us - not the kind of love we want to share with the family.

{insert imaginary photos we failed to take of our amazing weekend in the city}

I have a confession - I love going to Bangkok, but it stresses me out. Not necessarily being there, but getting there. It never fails that the day before, I start going over "the plan" in my head - when we'll arrive at the border, how I'll handle painfully long lines at immigration, how to avoid those lines, how to find food if we are waiting longer than a few hours, how to find a van/taxi/bus to take us to Bangkok once we get across the border depending on the time...and I find myself dreading the entire trip, all because of my anxiety over crossing the border from Cambodia into Thailand.

I've always been a bit of an intense planner/control freak, and Asia has definitely messed with me. I can't control anything here, and plans go awry more often than not. The only thing you can plan on is your plans going wrong, even if just a little bit. And I've dealt with my fair share of anxiety, worry, and stress when I feel like I am in situations I can't control. Which is basically every day.

I just finished a book by Sinclair Ferguson called The Sermon on the Mount. He discussed Jesus' teaching on worry from Matthew 6:19-34, and I "happened" to read it right before our trip. Ferguson states that people become anxious because "they focus on self rather than God...In the case of the anxious person, the concern is to supply his own needs" (p. 135). The anxious woman hasn't grasped the fact that God can and will supply her needs; she doesn't have to take care of it all on her own. It isn't up to her. 

"Anxiety can never be cured by getting more of what we have already...Anxiety can be cured only by the assurance that all our needs will be met by our King" (p. 146).

Our church back home often talks about "functional idols" - whatever or whoever we worship and serve and pursue instead of God. So many surface behaviors (i.e. my anxiety and worrying) reveal what I think will make me happy, fulfilled, or right. So calling myself a "control freak" is really saying that I think that being in control will make me happy, fulfilled, or right - my heart idol. But it is such a false hope. I'm not even in control of how quickly my heart beats or when the rain will come or if my husband will wake up in the morning. And thinking I can control things without God is nothing short of sinful self-idolatry.

There is only one God who controls the universe, and it's not me. I've been reminded over and over of Romans 8:32 - "Since [God] did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else?" If I ever question God's ability to provide for me, all I need to do is look at the cross. My biggest problem in life is not my living conditions or the daily stress of life or separation from home and family. My biggest problem is sin - and God gave up his own Son to wipe away that sin from my record. Anything else - whether it's a ride to Bangkok or a life-and-death situation - is secondary.

So I'm learning that when I feel that gnawing anxiety in my stomach, I need to stop and ask, What am I hoping in? Am I depending on my own ability to provide for myself? Or am I trusting God to meet all my needs? And someday, on the other side of eternity, I won't ever feel that uncertainty again, because I'll be looking at the face of the One who has always provided for me.

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