I have a close friend who is an Interventional Pediatric Radiologist. That's a mouthful! What it means is that he regularly does live-saving procedures on young children that require a lot of skill. One small mistake and the child could die. Talk about pressure! He told me that one of his assistants is always nervous when he works with him. He is constantly second-guessing him and saying things like "Be careful! Are you sure you want to do that?!" and "This makes me nervous!" I can't imagine trying to do the life-threatening, life-saving tasks he does with an Anxious Andy saying things like that in my ear.
The good news is that most of us don't have to operate under that kind of pressure. The bad news is that we all have an Anxious Andy constantly chattering away in our minds. Sometimes we do need to listen to this voice and take action to protect ourselves from immediate danger. But most of the time, the fears that these voices bring to our minds are unfounded and based on "worst-case scenario" thinking about our future. The key is to find a better, calmer voice to listen to. A voice that allows us to stay present to the people around us and to love them well. That voice is available to us, every moment of every day. That voice is the Holy Spirit.
The Bible says this very simply in Romans 8:6: "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." If you pay attention you can begin to recognize the voice of the Spirit in your mind. The Spirit always "works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill God's good purpose" (Philp. 2:13). The voice of the Spirit is calm when your Anxious Andy voice is predicting doom and gloom for your future. The voice of the Spirit is full of life and peace. The more we tune into the Spirit's voice, the more likely it is that our hearts will be full of life and peace.
It is almost like tuning into a radio station. I really like listening to WGTS in our area. It's positive Christian message is uplifting to me. When I turn on the radio, I always start on that station. But I could tune in to other stations. Some stations are focused on fear. I could tune into that if I wanted to. The point is that I have a choice as to what "station" I'm going to tune into. The Bible makes it very clear that we are called to tune into the Spirit. That is where the good stuff is!
The main focus of tuning into the Spirit is hearing the Spirit's voice. This takes some practice. We must first recognize that some of our thoughts are just that---thoughts. They aren't always reality. When I say to myself, "well that does it!! My life is definitely falling apart now!" Those are just thoughts. Those are the mind of the flesh. And those thoughts can lead to death. They can cause me to act in self-destructive ways. How much better to put forth the effort to tune into the voice of the Spirit. It does take effort, but it is worth it. If we get still and quiet, we can hear this voice when we listen for it. The Spirit is always prompting us to do good, to have hope, to practice love. The Spirit will always fill us with life and peace. I invite you this week to tune into the Spirit and see what happens. My guess is that Anxious Andy will finally find some peace.
May you experience the life and peace of the Spirit this week.