By Dr. Randy Carlson
Sometimes it feels like we rush through life. We just go from moment to moment and experience to experience without ever really appreciating that instant in time.
Some of you may remember the movie from 1993, Groundhog Day, that starred Bill Murray. It’s a fun movie about a TV reporter who goes to a small community to cover Groundhog Day for the station. He wakes up the next morning to find himself living the same day all over again. Early in the movie, Murray experiences retakes of the same day by doing foolish kinds of things. As the movie develops, he realizes how important that one day is to his life, and he starts to use it to do things differently with his life. By the end of the movie, he learns some valuable lessons about living in the moment.
We’d all like to go back from time-to-time and relive a moment, because we just rush through life. We can’t stop time, but as we look at the experiences of our life, most of us have specific moments that alter the course of our life.
We have moments in time where we make a decision, or something occurs in our life that changes the direction of our life. It could be a medical diagnosis, or a decision we make about education. It may be a spouse that says I no longer want to be married or any number of things that produces a significant moment.
It’s important to understand The Power of Now – this moment in time. Solomon says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). And if we think about that verse, we realize everything in our life is going through God’s hands in some way. He is still ultimately in charge of this.
We’re all in different seasons in our lives. It’s important not to think of seasons, just in terms of age, but about the four seasons that we celebrate. Spring is a hope-filled time, a time of planting, renewal, and new growth. It’s a time of expectation, especially coming out of winter and looking to spring.
You might be in a springtime season in your life right now. Perhaps God is doing some new things. It’s a time to plant things and invest in things. When I think about practical things like our health or finances, it’s a season to make decisions for creating good habits because winter is coming around the corner.
Summer is an interesting time. Most of us are not farmers, but our farming community understands you care for and protect things, so they can grow in the summer season. You make sure things are watered. Summer is a lot of work. God gives us longer days in the summer, so we can work more.
A fall season in our lives is harvest time. We gather and store because winter is coming, and winter can be filled with difficult days.
Some of you may be in the winter season of your life. Perhaps you were hit with a storm you didn’t see coming. If you haven’t stored up from the spring, summer, and fall, you are not well-equipped to face the winter. That’s true spiritually, emotionally, and intentionally. That’s why it’s so important, as we talk about the power of now, to realize that whatever season you are in, you’re not always going to be in this season, the next season is coming.
We must take advantage of where we are today to make good choices, because your choices become your habits, and your habits become your character.
Think about the importance of this moment in time. You’ll never be here, in this moment again, with these same thoughts and experiences. Life is progressive and it continues into eternity. I pray the Lord will help you prepare in every season to meet the next one with His intentional love.
Dr. Randy Carlson
We live in a fearful world, but we have assurance in our relationship with God to bring peace into out hearts. So, let’s count down the 10 things (from 10 to 1) that research shows can be very practical for dealing with fear and anxiety in your life, and some of them are very biblical.
- Seek professional help, if it’s needed, because anxiety is the leading cause of medical and mental health visits in America today.
If you wrestle with anxiety in your life, it’s not necessarily an indication of a lack of faith or spirituality. Our brains are wired in certain ways, and we also have seasons we go through. In my thirties, I experienced panic attacks. Over a period of several months irrational fear would just overtake me.
If you struggle with anxiety that keeps you from the freedom you should be experiencing with Christ, help is available.
- Exercise daily. Exercise does something good for you.
Donna and I walk two miles every day. If I don’t get them in, I feel it. It’s therapeutic; it clears the mind. There is so many things you can do – walk, run, stretch, dance or play a sport. It’s vital to do something on a regular basis.
- Change your focus.
Jesus said, “Don’t set your heart on what you will eat or drink. Don’t worry about it for the pagan world runs after such things and your father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom and these things will be added onto you” (Luke 12:29-31, my paraphrase).
Back in the 1970s, Albert Bandura, a social psychologist, developed a social learning theory about how children learn. He pointed out that we become what we focus on.
So, become very intentional about what you focus on every day by changing your focus.
- Get enough sleep. Research shows people who get enough sleep every night reduce stress, maintain weight, improve memory, lower blood pressure and better equip their immune system to fight illness.
- Tell yourself the truth.
Proverbs 19:5 says, “A false witness will not go unpunished and he who speaks lies will not escape” (NKJV).
Psychologically, the further we move away from this very moment in time in our thinking, anxiety increases. If we lie about our past or our future, it damages us in this moment. But if we believe God forgives us, loves us and cares for us in this moment, then the past is the past. Our future is in God’s hands and we must trust Him.
Learning to live in the moment begins by telling yourself the truth.
- Simply lay it down. We all carry burdens God never intended for us to carry around. Past mistakes, sins, regrets and problems, some of which aren’t even our own, that weigh us down.
1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV). Casting your care literally means laying it down. A great picture of this is as you’re standing in line at a grocery store with an arm full of stuff, and you finally get to the conveyor belt, and lay it down.
- Breathe deeply. Oxygen is a life force, a vital sign.
Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (NKJV). Job wrote this, and he had some tough times.
Breathing deeply is a very practical thing God has given us to deal with anxiety. When we are fearful, we tend to pull in, hold our breath or breathe in a very shallow way.
- Learn the triggers that set off anxiety in your life.
What are things that can set off or trigger a feeling of anxiety or fear in your life? Different people have unique triggers, and so it’s important to recognize what sets you off and manage them.
- Meditate on Scripture. Do you have a go-to verse when it comes to anxiety and fear?
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28 NKJV). It’s a peaceful verse to have in your heart to meditate on.
- Ask the Holy Spirit for the power to face your anxieties and fears and defeat them.
Before Jesus faced the most difficult moments in his life – the arrest, the trial and the crucifixion, He prayed. When you are facing those things that produce anxiety, begin with prayer.