The Fix for Slaying the Dragons that Taunt You

10:10 AMHeather

We face dragons every day.  Like little teenage David, we face our giants, opposing and frightening, on a daily basis.  The things that would make an army of Israelites shake in their sandals, as they did on that fateful day so long ago.  

We face fears and anxieties and illnesses and defeats.  We look up in the terrifying face of grief and loss and disappointments. We stand toe to toe with discouragement, breathing a fire of condemnation and doom directly into our face.  Our eyebrows are singed, as we battle, moment by moment.  Struggling to throw off the weight of the emotions that we wrestle against, desperate to gain the upper hand and silence them.  Because the taunting they shout bring a sense of despair and a barrage of knots in our stomach.

These dragons tend to get the best of me.  I know I'm not alone.  In fact, we have much in common with Biblical characters such as Mary and Martha, whom we looked at yesterday.  Their brother dead, they grieved and mourned and questioned the Jesus who could have saved him.  

I know many of us know how that story ended.  But Mary and Martha could not have fathomed how Jesus would show up.  They could not have imagined that what they had never before experienced was about to happen before their eyes.  This man from Nazareth who had become a friend and preached a new gospel was about to do the unthinkable.  And their dead brother would be brought to life.

Sure, the story ends well.  But what about the interim?  What about that in between when they could not function because the circumstances and emotions were dragons they could not slay?

Let's pause here.  Because I think many of us are, in fact, paused right there in our lives.  There are circumstances and familiar old strongholds like depression and worry that are besting you at this moment.

What then?  HOW do you possibly move forward?

This is what I'm asking myself as I wrestle against the anxiety and doubts that have long plagued me.  Anxiety about money and provision and the future.  Doubts about my abilities and unfulfilled dreams and relationships and my value and worth.  Here I am, on the battlefield once again.  My face is turned completely upright toward the towering enemy.

And I want to learn this sacred practice of sitting at Jesus' feet.  I want to learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I long to live out Sabbath living, resting and floating in the love of my Savior.

But these dragons distract me.  They are like Martha's efforts in the kitchen.  They cause me to feel troubled and anxious about many things.

I've been asking the Lord to help me here.  To really gain ground and move forward.  And some brutal truths have been hitting me as I've tried to get real with God about my feelings.  The first not-so-pretty reality I've realized is that all these swirling emotions are rooted in unbelief and doubt.  I've called my dragons anxiety and fear.  God says that's just the symptom.  Because the problem is that I need to think and believe truer things about God.  (As JR Vassar has so eloquently stated in a recent sermon at our church).

Because if I believed that God's grace was indeed scandalous in its depth over me, then my life would preach a grace extended to others.  I could not deny others grace in our interactions because I was not denied an ounce of grace by my Heavenly Father.

If I believed that God is my provider and has good plans for a future and a hope, then I would not waste an ounce of energy worrying about my bank account or the days ahead.  

If I believed that God is for me and loves and delights in me, then I wouldn't waste a breath feeling like he only tolerates me and I must pray a certain way or do a certain thing to earn his favor and the answers that I want to see from my prayers.

If I really believed the truest things about who God is and how He loves me and how He's got it all under control, then I would indeed be slaying the dragons that come against me.

Listen, the truth of these realization is harsh to me.  It's hard.  To be face-to-face with my own unbelief that clouds my vision and causes unnecessary struggles.  And to be honest, I'm scrapping along here trying to get in this fight against unbelief.  I'm praying and begging God to cut away the doubts and crumble the walls of unbelief in my life.

While I stumble along here, crying out the words of Mark 9:24--
"I do believe!  Help my unbelief!" 

I need a foothold.  I need something to tie my hopes to here.  And over and over, the Lord has made it clear what the next step is.

Fix my eyes on Jesus.  Continually train my gaze to the unseen.  NOT the seen.  Discipline my heart and my mind to look up to Jesus from a posture of sitting at his feet...listening to his teaching.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18

Fix our eyes.  

Fix--to place definitely and more or less permanently; to settle definitely; determine; to direct steadily; to make set or rigid; to become set; to become stable; to settle down; a clear determination

In these definitions of fix, I see an intentionality and a determination.  A choice to do the harder thing.  A decision made and followed through, again and again if necessary.

And that is what we must do.  That is what God is calling me to do right now, as I look to root out my unbelief, to believe truer things about God, and to experience freedom like I've never known.

We all run and stumble and get up again.  We stop and stall and fall and press moment at a time.  And we continually choose to discipline ourselves to fix our eyes on Jesus.  The one who weeps with us.  The one who paid the ultimate price so that all that is temporary will be eclipsed by a glorious eternity.

Fix our eyes on Jesus.  Yes!  

But practically speaking, how might I do this?  You know I'm a girl who likes a task list.

Here are some things God has challenged me to implement.

1.  Look up Scriptures addressing my doubts and fears.  In other words--the truth of the Word about the dragons that try to belittle me.  Day before yesterday, I made a list of Scripture about provision and anxiety.  

2.  Then actually look at those Scriptures.  Again and again.  Keep them handy on a Bible memorization app (I love the Bible minded app) on your phone.  Since I have deleted facebook and instagram apps from my phone, this means I turn to Bible minded app whilst sitting in school pick-up lines or other idle moments.

3.  Hey--try memorizing those Scriptures!  Practicing them.  Reciting them repeatedly.  Hiding them in your hearts so you can draw out the Sword anytime the dragon taunts you.

4. Pray and worship.  This is what Paul and Silas did while they were chained and imprisoned.  After they were beaten.  (Acts 16).  And guess what happened when they chose to pray and worship in the midst of their bondage?  God showed up supernaturally.  And freedom was unleashed for them.

5.  Speaking of worship, listen to some worship music.  Make a playlist that speaks to you.  Fill the empty places with worship music instead of television or facebook or other endeavors that don't have the power to fill you up and fix your thoughts on Jesus.

6.  Consider what is troubling you.  It's the seen.  The obvious.  The here and now.  Take time to just sit and ponder the unseen.  Turn those thoughts to the glory to come.  Train yourself to remember the eternal victory you are promised.  It helps today's struggles to pale in comparison.

7.  Again, take time in the quiet to remember who Jesus is and what He has and will do.  Turn your thoughts to his love and power and death and resurrection.  Turn them away from the things that defeat you to the God who defeated all sin and death.

Oh, the victory and freedom within grasp!  This journey of rooting out the unbelief, believing truer things about God and fixing my thoughts--it's the stones in my pouch.  The ones for the slingshot I can use to slay the giant in front of me. 

Oh, dear Jesus.  Help me fix my eyes on YOU.  You, who weeps with me.  You, who never leaves nor forsakes me.  You, who takes the sting out of death and whose perfect love casts out fear.

I do believe!  Help my unbelief!  

Blog post #10 in a series:  Sabbath Living: Sitting at the Feet of Jesus

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