The other day, I planted myself at a local coffee shop to get some studying, writing, and blog design done. Fall is ever so beautiful in good ole Wisconsin right now, so I found a table outside to soak up the 70-degree weather and get to work. Eating my turkey pesto sandwich I couldn't help but get caught up in the sound of the rustling wind in the trees and leaves fluttering down to meet the concrete with a light crack. For far too long, I stared out, watching as the leaves blew wherever the wind took them.
Sitting there, I thought about how in that moment I’d really like to be a leaf. Despite my stellar attitude and high hopes for accomplishing my to-do list, I felt a sense of disorder in my day. Knowing everything I wanted to do my brain quickly hopped from one thought to the next to the next, wanting to fully think through and accomplish each and every action item on my plate. As I watched a leaf fall onto my keyboard, I was envious. Thinking about how we sometimes use the phrase “Let’s go wherever the wind takes us,” I realized how much I’d really like to do that. To not wake up in the morning and look at the list and make a schedule. To not reach the end of the day feeling discouraged because that long list was not accomplished for yet another day. If I were a leaf I could literally go wherever the wind took me. I wouldn’t have a choice! I wouldn’t be responsible for what did or didn't get done, because I would be at the mercy of the wind. If the wind made me fly off the tree, rock on. If it threw me into a puddle leaving ripples in my wake, sweet deal! Or shoot, maybe I’d be whisked right into the joy-filled pile of leaves under which a little girl is squealing in laughter. Doesn’t that sound kind of amazing?!
Dreaming about my life as a leaf I was thoroughly enjoying myself. And then out of nowhere, anxiety set in. Panic bubbled up from my heart like water boiling over in a pot of noodles. My heart rate escalated, I started to sweat and a tingling sensation moved up my neck. Without the slightest bit of warning, my peaceful, quiet time was blown away by panic. As much as I wanted to squash it and return to my imagination, I caved. I packed up my things, got in my car, went home and crashed. Closing my eyes hoping to squelch my anxiety, I practiced my yoga breaths, slowly inhaling and exhaling to calm my heart.
Ready to throw in the towel and just call the day a complete fail, I received a text from my sister who I’d sent a desperate plea for prayer. Opening up the message, I found a prayer that filled my screen. I won’t share the whole thing with you, but the words that got my attention were, “God, overwhelm her with the same power that rose Jesus from the grave – that’s the power that lives in her.” Sorry for getting a little gospel on you, but can I get an Amen?! I mean for real! That sentence shook me a little bit because it’s true. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have gained access to the Father – to the One who raised Jesus from the grave!!! Thinking about the sheer awesomeness of that reality, it reminded me of a verse I read in my Bible earlier that day. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.”
Re-visiting that Bible verse, and thinking about the power that I have through Christ Jesus, I thought to myself, what if my wishful thinking about the freedom of being blown about by the wind wasn’t so wishful after all? What if I really could throw my ambitions, my obsession with my to do list and fear of lack of accomplishment to the wind and instead be directed through my day by the God who is not a God of disorder, but of peace!? Umm... yes please!! The truth is, I can - and I think that’s actually what God wants us to do. To surrender our plans, our wishes, our fears, our anxiety-filled moments to Him and trust that He will lead us. But the question is, how? How can I do that?
Years ago at church, the choir sang a gospel song that engrained three words on my heart – “Order my steps.” The soulful lyrics spoke of asking the Lord to lead us, guide us, and “order my steps in your word.” These words really challenged me; they still do. And I think praying those three simple words is the answer I was looking for.
Waking up, before my feet hit the floor or my brain has a chance to think about my to-do list, I can ask the Lord to order my steps, giving Him control of my day and asking Him to lead me. Instead of immediately getting all worked up about what I want to get done, I can fix my focus on Him and whatever He might have for me that day. Asking the Lord to set my expectations for the day I can greatly reduce my risk of disappointment and anxiety over an unaccomplished to-do list, by choosing to get things done in His timing, not mine. This is something I have been working on doing for years, and honestly, when I actually do it, it is so freeing!
Unfortunately that doesn't mean that there won't be any anxious or frustrating moments in my life. In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Yes, there will be trouble but I have the power to actively seek peace that is found in Him! If giving the Lord control, and asking Him to order my steps means that I can experience the freedom of "going wherever the wind takes me," then sign me up! I need to do this daily.
Let's not sugar coat it - anxiety is terrible. If this is where you're finding yourself as you're reading these words, please hang in there. The disorder you feel in your soul is not of Him - know that, take some deep breaths and trust that this will pass. Together, let's lean into the One who created us and do whatever we possibly can to take away anxiety's power.
When we wake up tomorrow, before we even pull off the covers, let's ask the Lord to order our steps. Let’s be like those beautiful, fire-colored fall leaves carried by the wind, by giving the God of peace control of our day and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us.
image by Marissa Maharaj