Freedom From Anxiety Part 1: Trusting God to Provide

By Peter DeWitt

I have a history with anxiety. My anxiety was so bad when I first got saved that I was afraid to go to work. A few years later I overheard a team teacher (who I worked with daily and knew me well) tell another employee “I don’t know what it is about Peter; he’s unflappable.” God had developed a peace in me and I had stopped operating in anxiety as a teacher!

About a year ago I was driving down 315 south and I had anxiety in my heart. I asked “Father, what’s that?” I heard this as clear as day “you know...anxiety requires an idol.”

When I hear the Lord I try to implement what He says. Then you will know (through the fruit of implementation) that maybe you weren’t hearing the Lord quite clearly but other times the fruit of implementation will tell you “THAT WAS DEFINITELY GOD!” Test it out and hold fast what’s good.

So we were in Montana at the end of our 3 week summer trip and I am in what could be heaven for me. Some of the best trout streams in the US are all very close to where were staying. But we get to our log cabin and Megan is sick with an ear infection, the boys were dead tired from the trip, and the streams we want to go to turned out to be difficult for the boys to walk in. So suffice it to say we are in fly fishing Heaven and I’m like 36 hours into being there and I haven’t gotten to fish yet! I’ve dreamed of going there since high school. I’m now there and it’s like torture!

So I’m a bit out of sorts about the whole thing and Megan says “why don’t you go up and pray.” (A lot of marriages could be saved by letting someone else pray! You've got to give each other some space to process sometimes.) So I went up and laid down on the bed and prayed. The Father helped me realize “what’s that thing you’re feeling?” I said “oh it’s anxiety!” Then He says “so what idol are you serving?”

An idol is trusting something else to provide for you what God wants to provide for you better.

So yes, I was seeing fly fishing as an idol but what was I really after? What I was I trusting fly fishing to provide for me? Enjoyment. Enjoyment of our trip. In the natural, we were in a fly fishing mecca. What do you do there to enjoy your time? Fly fish! But I wasn't getting to do that right now. The Lord was saying “why do you have anxiety? … you’re serving an idol … you’re trusting fly fishing to provide you enjoyment.”

So I said “You mean You want to give me MORE and BETTER enjoyment than fly fishing could ever provide right now?”

“Exactly. Would you receive that from Me?”

Do you know what instantly came? PEACE!

If anxiety requires an idol, peace requires not having an idol.

Step out of peace and you’ve stepped into an idol. Step back into peace and you’ve stepped away from that idol.
It can seem like a hard word to talk about idols. But idolatry is still a New Covenant topic! Consider that the book of 1 John says some of the most profound things concerning freedom from sin for the believer. John knew the gospel of grace. He knew that we are completely free from sin and yet the last verse of his entire book (1 John 5:21) is “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

Idolatry is a big deal spiritually.  The first example of idolatry is Adam and Eve believing they could find wisdom in a tree … more than the wisdom that was in Christ. An idol is believing something else can provide for you better than God can provide for you. He’s wanting to provide for you more and better than the thing that we are seeking on our own … that’s producing anxiety and a lack of peace.

Do Not Worry

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life …”  Matthew 6:24-25

Did you catch it? “You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life …” Anxiety comes from having an idol. Worry comes from having an idol. Having an idol is believing that God does not want to provide for you. He says this “I’m available” and “what will I not provide for you?”  

Look at the birds of the air; the Father feeds them! Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Worrying is not additive. If it’s not additive I would venture to say “it’s subtractive.” Worry has a cost.

So why do you worry about clothing? If God so clothes the grass of the field, how will He not much more clothe you? Therefore do not worry. ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ After all these things the Gentiles seek. Your Heavenly Father knows that you need all of these things!

Do you see? One of the antidotes to anxiety is to know that God knows your needs. I’ve got a lot of experiences where it’s clear He knows my wants. I have a lot of experiences where it’s clear that He has better plans for me than I have for myself. My eyes have not seen, my ears have not heard … God has prepared for me something even better than what I want!

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” He’s saying “if you’ll seek Me you won’t be seeking an idol and as a result you’ll have peace and you’ll receive all these things.”

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow. Notice that anxiety and worry are always imagining a future without God. Worry always deals in the context of the future. You might say “well sometimes I worry about my past.” I’m telling you if you worry about your past, the only thing you’re actually worrying about is how your past might impact your future. Worry only deals in the context of the future.

Worry and anxiety are imagining a future without God:
without His provision,
without His protection,
without His insight,
without His leadership,
without His blessing,
without His closeness.

So if idolatry is trusting something other than God to provide for you better, then worry really is born out of idolatry.

I want to challenge you. What would today look like without anxiety? Is there something you are putting your trust in to provide for you more than your are trusting God to provide for you? He wants to provide for you more and better. There is peace available to us when we put our full trust in God for our provision!

To read the next part in this blog series on Anxiety click below:
Freedom From Aniexty part 2: Are you ready to Receive?