With God, Emotional Baggage Flies Free

November 5, 2018
By Kelly Brumbeloe, Pastor of North Campus

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Phil 4:6-7

Two months after Steven and I got married, my job sent me to a conference in Brazil, with all expenses paid and time for sightseeing. This opportunity definitely spoke to me; there is just something about world travel that makes me feel alive. I love exploring God’s creation, and feeling connected to history, nature, and the cultural footprint of every place in this world.

But after I boarded the plane to embark on this new adventure, I felt a sudden and overwhelming uneasiness that I didn’t have a name for. I was sweating. I was cramped. My head was spinning. I stumbled from my seat and went to the flight attendant. She calmly but quickly asked me some questions, then nodded and notified the pilot. Passenger Brumbeloe was having an anxiety attack. The plane was going to turn around so that I could get off.

Within minutes, my breathing returned to normal, my body temperature regulated, and things came back into focus. The flight attendant walked me to the front of the aircraft, helped me into a wheelchair, took my blood pressure, and called Steven to come and get me. I was so close to visiting Brazil but ended up with an unwanted consolation prize—the new reality of anxiety. And what did the world have to offer me? Management! 

But the Bible offers us so much more in the way of healing—it says we can be completely free. Jesus died to offer us freedom–from death, from condemnation, from fear, and even from anxiety.

Going back to that wonderful verse from Phil 4 that begins with “Do not be anxious about anything.” The second part of that verse says “but in everything pray!” So, if the problem is anxiety then the solution is to redirect our energy and replace anxiety with prayer. The Bible calls this casting. We find this in 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety upon Him, for he cares for you.” (Translation: Don’t carry around your anxiety!  Cast it on Jesus and leave it there!) 

Let’s explore what a practical application of this might look like:

You feel yourself getting anxious—perhaps brought on by a relationship or an overwhelming school or work schedule.

Pause for a moment, and ask inwardly “God, what’s going on here?  Why are my insides turning somersaults? You love me, you believe I’m beautiful, you believe I’m good enough, you forgive me. Please help me!” The passage from Philippians and the practical exercise begin with anxiety and end with peace.  Prayer fills the middle. My friends, I have lived this and I can tell you with a joyful heart that I no longer struggle with anxiety. I am free and you can be too.

This week I read the story of 16th Century Russian Czar Ivan the Terrible, known for his brutal and erratic behavior. This section of the story particularly struck me: When Ivan had asked the King of Greece for the hand of his daughter Sophia, the king gave his blessing if Ivan agreed to be baptized and join the church. Ivan complied and set out for Greece, accompanied by 500 of his best soldiers. When the soldiers learned that Ivan was to be baptized, they decided that they too wished to be baptized. At that time in the history of the church, a requirement in baptism was to affirm the articles of the Orthodox church, which the soldiers agreed to do-except for one: that which prohibited them from being professional soldiers. So how could they join the church and remain soldiers? In a few days, at the time of their baptism, all 500 marched out into the water, accompanied by 500 priests. As the priests put the soldiers under the water, each soldier grasped his sword and lifted it high into the air. The soldiers were then baptized completely…except for their swords and their fighting arms. Those who witnessed the mass baptism said that it was an amazing spectacle to see 500 dry arms and 500 shining swords carefully held out of the water.

For many of you, your dry arm is anxiety.  You choose to manage it, you may joke about it, but deep down you wish it would just go away.

Friends, hear me: Put down your sword. Put your arm in the water. Put your faith in God. His Mighty hand is on you, and He will turn that plane around so that you fly free.