BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Three in a three-part Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Biblical Counseling and Anxiety. In addition to today’s post by Paul Tautges, you can read Part One by Bob Kellemen: Facing Anxiety Face-to-Face with Christ and Part Two by Sherry Allchin: When Anxiety Attacks…Let Love and Peace Rule.
Anxiety Is a Worship Disorder
It’s my day off and I am able to do one of my favorite things—spend a morning hour on our front porch swing. With coffee to my left, and Bible to my right, I am thinking through Jesus’ teaching on anxiety in Matthew 6:25-34. In between the sound of the lawn mower at the funeral home across the street and the cars driving by, the chirping birds are telling me something. “Trust God,” they are saying. In a simple, beautiful melody they sing, “Do not be anxious for your life,” as I also admire the beauty of my wife’s fire-orange and white tulips mingled between her two-tone hasta.
I jump into Jesus’ teaching at verse 25, which begins “For this reason,” a phrase that connects me back to His statement about it being impossible to serve two masters. This reminds me that anxiety is primarily a worship disorder. Since God designed my heart to worship Him alone, anxiety seeks to create double-mindedness within me and, therefore, the greatest need of my heart is the constant discipline of the exclusive worship of God.
Keeping the Lord first and foremost in my mind excludes anxiety from entering in. But how do I do that, practically speaking?
How the Birds & My Wife’s Tulips Counsel Me
To confront my anxiety—my worship disorder—and direct me back to fixing my mind on the Lord alone, Jesus directs me to look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. As I listen and admire, I hear their counsel.
The birds sing to me in unison, “We don’t sow the fields and fill our barns, yet we receive our daily food from our Creator. He feeds us. Remember, you are also a creature, but you are unlike us. You are made in the image of God and, therefore, are more valuable to God than we are. Trust Him. He will not fail you.”
One bird, a sparrow, sings, “My Creator has a plan for my short life. He knows when I will fall to the ground, according to His plan (Matthew 10:29). Remember, you are also a creature, but you are unlike me. You are a member of the human race—the pinnacle of God’s creative handiwork (Psalm 8). My Creator says to you, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).
A bright orange tulip with yellow streaks and flared petals quietly whispers, “Look at me. Look at my Designer clothing. Not even King Solomon’s robes could hold a candle to mine. Remember, you are a creature too, but you are unlike me. You are made in the image of my glorious Creator. I will shrivel and die in a couple of weeks, but in Christ you will live forever. Trust Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Together, members of God’s creation sing in one mighty chorus: “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. O, ye of little faith do not be anxious. Your heavenly Father knows all that you need. His care for you is greater than any of your cares. Look to Him and your anxieties will be carried away like dandelion seeds in the wind.”
We Are God’s ‘Little Flock’
In Luke’s account of this same portion of Jesus’ teaching on anxiety, he, like Matthew, redirects our focus to the Lord. “But seek His kingdom, and [the earthly things you worry about] will be added to you.” But then Luke alone adds these tender words of Jesus: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
What will combat my fears, my anxieties? Consciously meditating on the love of God toward me in Jesus Christ will help me war against internal fears. What will chase my anxieties away? Reminding myself of the unfathomable love of God for me—a lamb in His little flock—will cause me to worship God who is far more worthy than anything else my idolatrous heart produces in order to take my focus off of Him. And who I worship is who I will trust.
In one of my favorite children’s Bibles, The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones write, “’Little flock,’ Jesus said, ‘you are more important than birds! More important than flowers! The birds and the flowers don’t sit and worry about things. And God doesn’t want his children to worry either. God loves to look after the birds and the flowers. And he loves to look after you, too.’”
Join the Conversation
As you face fears and anxieties, what counsel can you take from the birds and the flowers?