One of the ways worry and anxiety is fueled is by living in the future. That’s where the enemy of our souls wants us to live — either in the future or in the past. But God calls us to live in the present moment because that is all we have, that is living in truth.
I find that when I wake up in the morning and my mind starts whirring away, it will often go to the problem areas of my life: the burden of my responsibilities, the concerns I have, people I’m worried about, etc. If I leave this tendency unchecked and allow my mind to race on, I soon find that I am weighed down with heaviness and sadness that can completely rob my day of joy.
One of the remedies I have found to stop this downward mental spiral is to turn to Lamentations 3:21-23 which I have written about before in this blog:
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
I don’t know about you, but whenever I go to get gas for the car and fill up the tank, as I’m leaving the gas station and look down at the gauge and see the needle at full, it gives me a good feeling. I often thank God right then, “Thank you, Jesus, for my full gas tank and that I had the funds to fill it up,” because I know that many people can’t afford to fill up, if they even have a car in the first place. So it is an occasion for gratitude.
I thought of that sensation of well-being and satisfaction when I have a full tank of gas pulling out of the station, knowing that I don’t have to fill up for a while, and I applied that to the graces for this day. God promises that they “are made new every morning, so great is his faithfulness.” My job is to drink deeply of those mercies and graces: to sit and allow God to fill up my spiritual tank. Everything that I need to face today, God has already supplied. It is my job to appropriate those graces, to receive them, to let them sink down deep into my being.
That imagery of going to a gas station is very helpful. You have to stop out of your busy day, find a gas station, and maybe wait in line (I fill up at Costco and there’s always a line of vehicles to wait in), so it forces you to pause and slow down no matter what is going on. When you pull up to the pump, you have to get out of the car, submit your payment, open the gas tank, and start filling the car with gas — and you have to wait there as long as the fuel is flowing into your tank and the pump automatically clicks off. You can’t rush it, you can’t hurry it along. You have to wait until the process is done.
Applying that to my daily time of prayer, I told myself, “This is my pause in the day. I need to slow my mind down, become aware of God’s presence, and let him fill my soul with the mercies and graces he has new for me this day. Everything I need to face any challenge that comes my way today — any needed gift of patience, wise counsel, good decision making, courage or strength — God has promised he will supply. My job is to stop and allow all that to flood into me and fill up my emotional and spiritual tank.
So during the remainder of this season of Advent, when holiday busy-ness can increase, I encourage you to pause in your day. Find a few minutes where you can picture yourself as a car at the Lord’s gas station. Allow the new graces and mercies of God to fill you up and top you off so that as you head out and go back to your day-to-day stuff, you will have what you need to face each thing that comes your way.