Feeling Anxious: 5 Ways To Stop Creating Your Own Storms // Steven Furtick
Here are five ways we create our own storms sometimes. See, some waves are God-ordained in our lives, but some waves are waves we make. Sometimes we create our own anxiety, and then we ask God for peace. How can he give you peace in a situation you’re currently creating? I have five things for you just really quickly. I won’t take long on them. First, often we create anxiety and waves in our lives with… 1. The words we speak. Just write that down. Words. Words! Have you ever made unnecessary waves with your words? Words you speak out of anger that you then have to go back and fix. It takes a week, two weeks, three weeks. Words of doubt. Some of you, just you frame your day with the wrong words. Then you’re disappointed with the world you’ve built, but your world is created by your words. Sometimes we make waves. You know, we create choppy conditions in the morning just by the way we get up talking. “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” My grandmother used to say this phrase all the time. She’d say, “Y’all about to worry me to death.” She’d say it about anything. You know, the TV is too loud. “Turn that TV down. Y’all about to worry me to death.” She was a wonderful lady, but do you know what? As a result of her saying all the time, “Y’all about to worry me to death,” she was worried a lot, because she said she wanted to be worried. We read a teaching one time in a book. It said after anything you say in your life, don’t say it if you can’t follow it with this phrase: “And that’s just the way I want it.” That’s just the way I want it. Try it out on the things you say. “Y’all about to worry me to death. And that’s just the way I want it.” “I’m just running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I’m so stressed out. And that’s just the way I want it.” You have your own phrases, but the words we speak create waves of anxiety. Check your words. 2. Your approach. Sometimes it’s not what we’re going through; it’s the way we’re going through what we’re going through. Some of us live with no margin, and so we’re always nervous. It’s our approach. We’re anxious about money because we spend too much and don’t make enough. No margin. It’s your approach. You start your morning frustrated with people in traffic. You know there’s going to be traffic. You’ve never adjusted the time you get up and leave your house. Now you’re wondering why your job is so stressful. Your job is not stressful. The way you got to your job was stressful because of your approach. I’m going to help a student. Your class is not stressful. The fact that you knew about the assignment for three weeks before you thought to look it up… It’s the approach that made it stressful. “She is just so mean.” She is not mean! You’re just a procrastinator. You’re making your own waves. Can I get a parent to back me up in the house? That’s the second one. 3. The wrong voices. The wrong voices can create unnecessary and needless waves and anxiety in our lives, can’t they? Man, if you check the news or your Twitter feed on your phone before even getting up to use the bathroom in the morning, and you wonder why the outlook on life that you have is so dark… I think 24/7 news stations and news is one of the worst things that ever happened to our peace of mind as people. No offense to media! No offense to a journalist but, I mean… I was reading through just some headlines the other day. Do you really need to understand the dynamics of every disease? Every disease? Do you really need to understand the dynamics of every conflict in all these countries you can’t pronounce? Do you need to meditate…? No wonder you’re merimnate. You’re marinating in the wrong reports, the wrong voices. They’ll come in and tell me from time to time about a problem in the church. When they get to a certain point, I’ll say, “Thanks. That’s all I need to know.” What am I doing? I need good information to make a good decision, but I don’t need so much information that it clouds my outlook. So I can’t let the wrong voices just keep on playing, keep on going. “Then they said this, and then they did that. They might do that, and it could be that.” You know, at some point you just have to say, “I’m creating waves by all the voices I’m listening to. I listen to depression. I watch depression. The people I hang around are depressing. I’m making my own waves.” Hello. Hello. Hello. 4. Our expectations. Our expectations can create waves. Sometimes you go out in your life, and the anxiety you feel is a result of the expectations of others that you created by not being willing to manage your own energy. Sometimes the anxiety we feel is because we get up in the morning, and we don’t expect any battles that day. We feel like it’s a surprise attack when something hits us wrong. Why are you surprised? He said put on the full armor of God. That suggests you’re going to be in a fight. He said take up the helmet. He said take up the shield. He said take up the sword. He said you have to get dressed for battle when you get up in the morning. Don’t be surprised! You need to learn to expect some storms. I think the fact that it’s unexpected is often the reason it’s so difficult. Then there’s the master wave maker in our souls. It’s called… 5. Shame. You walk around anxious because you’re hiding stuff, and you wonder, “When are they going to find out about my secret?” Maybe because you’re tormented by something God already forgave… See, there’s a difference between conviction and shame. Conviction is good. It shows you what to fix, and it gives you God’s power to help fix it. Shame tells you that because of what you did, who you are is now fundamentally changed. It makes you walk around paranoid. It makes you walk around feeling helpless. It makes you walk around feeling like people don’t love you who do love you and people are judging you who aren’t judging you. You have to learn where to take your shame, or it will just rock you. Waves. They wake Jesus up, and they say, “Don’t you see the waves? Don’t you care if we die?” Verse 39: “[Jesus] got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!'” He got up, and he said, “Quiet! Be still!” Three words. “Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid?'” “Don’t you know that when I tell you we’re going to the other side, we’re going to get to the other side? Don’t you know that I command the wind and the waves?” See, they didn’t yet. They hadn’t seen enough yet. They hadn’t experienced enough yet. After you’ve been through a few storms, it’s interesting what you learn. Look at it. “Do you still have no faith?” Then verse 41. It says, “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!'” If you thought they were scared of the storm, they really freaked out when they found out that with three words, he could shut it off like a showerhead. Whoa! I want to suggest something to you today about the storms of anxiety in your life and the waves and the winds that are blowing in your life. Because, man, the winds will blow. They will blow, absolutely! The waves will break, and they will crash. There’s no doubt about it. In those times when Jesus is sleeping in the stern and he doesn’t take action and he doesn’t fix your situation, it can be easy to deduce what the disciples deduced: “We’re going to die, and God doesn’t even care.” You start planning out all the way to the end. “Man, this is how I’m going to die right here. This is how it’s going to end right here. I’m never going to get another job. I’m never going to…” Anxious for nothing. They eventually got to the other side. See, I wondered all week why Jesus would send them into a storm, just like we wonder in our lives why God doesn’t do more about the chaos in our world. Why doesn’t he fix situations before they get that bad? We celebrate when God heals somebody of cancer, but silently we wonder, “Why did they have to have cancer to begin with?” We celebrate when somebody’s kid comes back to God, but we wonder, “Then why did God let the kid wander away to begin with?” We celebrate that somebody went to heaven, but we wonder, “Why did God have to make it so people die and we feel pain and sorrow?” “Don’t you care?” Jesus was upset about that. Do you know what? I don’t think he was upset that they woke him up. I think they were supposed to wake him up. I think he wanted them to go wake him up. I do! I think it’s the way they woke him up that bothered him. See, they woke him up thinking, “You must not care. You don’t care.” He said in Philippians 4:6, didn’t he, “In everything, make your requests known to God”? You’re supposed to ask God. You’re supposed to go down to the stern and say, “Lord, I need a little help right now. Lord, this doesn’t feel good. God, it’s pushing against me. God, it’s getting cloudy, and I don’t know what to think. The sky is growing black. Would you help me, Lord? Would you come, Lord?” Don’t assume he doesn’t care. Don’t assume that! See, because I believe (you don’t have to take this view if you don’t want to) Jesus put them in the storm not to test them but to teach them… I can explain. See, Jesus wasn’t going to be with them forever. We don’t have Jesus in physical form. We have the Spirit of God inside of us as believers, but we don’t have Jesus in our boat. What a cool picture. Just like Jesus was in the stern, the Spirit is inside of you. We don’t have Jesus anymore in physical form in our boat. When he stood up and he said, “Quiet! Be still!” and the wind and the waves died down, do you know what I think Jesus was doing? I think he was using the wind and the waves like a whiteboard to draw a lesson plan for the disciples. Follow me. Follow me. Follow me. The real waves that take you down in your life are not the ones out there; they’re the ones in here. See, you think the circumstances are making you anxious. They’re not. You think it’s the other person’s reaction that’s… How do I know this? James, chapter 1, verse 6. He says, “But when you ask [God], you must believe and not doubt…” Watch what doubt does. “…because the one who doubts is like a…” Did you see it? “…like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” That’s why God lets me experience winds and waves in my life: so he can teach me to calm the wind and the waves within. See, the real waves are within. You’ll never have peace until you learn how to speak peace to the waves within. Watch this. Jesus said, “Be still!” and the waves shut up. He said, “Now it’s your turn. What I just did to the sea, I want you to do to your anxious heart. The next time the winds of ‘what if’ start blowing and the winds of imaginary scenarios and negative emotions start blowing, I want you to get up and wake up your faith from the stern of the ship and get out and hold up your hand and say, ‘Quiet! Be Still!'” The waves within. Come on. I’m preaching about the waves within. Because as you learn how to calm the waves within, you can ride the waves without. I found out that if you learn how to calm the waves within, it’s about the atmosphere of your heart. Everyone standing, no one leaving. The waves within. You think the problem is that God won’t calm the waves without. The real problem is you haven’t learned to calm the waves within. We’re going to learn how to be peace-speakers to our own souls. See, I thought it was random the order of this stuff. Jesus in Mark, chapter 4, is talking about the sower and the soils. Then we go straight into the storm, and I couldn’t figure out why Mark edited those two together. I realized that both are about atmosphere. Every heart has an atmosphere. I wonder today, what is the atmosphere of your heart? Can I tell you that nothing good develops in an atmosphere of anxiety? Nothing! Jesus said, whether you’re thinking about a farmer and the soil (that’s the atmosphere of the earth) or a storm in the sky, you have to learn how to take command of the atmosphere of your heart. Here’s what’s happening. You’re creating an atmosphere of anxiety all around you because there’s an atmosphere of anxiety within you. You’re taking it out on people, and you’re frustrated with people, and you’re short with people. You’re withdrawn from people, and you’re blaming people. You have to get up and wake up your faith, Peter. Jesus said, “Do you see what I did? Now you do it. Speak. Speak! Awaken your brave within. Here’s what I do. Do you want to know what I do? Check this out. When the waves start in my life, the first thing I do is I breathe physically. Some of y’all are like, “Yes, the breath of God.” No, no. Just I physically breathe. Do it now. Do you feel it? Do it again. Do it again. They’ve suggested the reason the Hebrew name of God is Yahweh is that the very name sounds like a breath. Yahweh. So when you breathe, every breath is a prayer reminding you that he is inside of you sustaining. Here come the waves, but I know how to breathe. “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” I breathe in his grace, and then I breathe out. Breathe. Breathe, dawg, breathe. Breathe! Then I remember. I remember that he told me we’re going to the other side. I remember he started this. I tell God all the time, “You started this!” I remember like David did when he was standing before Goliath. “Wait a minute. Just like the lion and the bear, God is about to take this joker down too.” Breathe, and then remember. Trigger something in your mind that reminds you of the faithfulness of God. Watch the waves die down. Then I ask. He said, “Make your request known to God.” “Lord, would you help me here? I’m up on a choppy sea. I just got a report about my mother’s health. Lord, they just did that thing again that you know sends me off in that direction. Help, Lord.” You don’t have to say a lot sometimes. Just, “Help, Lord!” He’ll hear you. With thanksgiving, though. “Thank you, Lord. Now help, please. Thank you. Please. Thank you. Please.” Get in that rhythm of asking. “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you’ll find. Knock, and the door will be open.” I ask, and I visualize, because the storms can wreck your visibility, can’t they? They can cause you to lose sight of everything God has put around you, and you can’t see anything but what’s flashing right in front of you. I ask, and then I open the eyes of my heart, and I try to get an awareness of, “Hey, look. God is here! Hey, look. There is strength. Hey, look. I am standing! Hey, look. There is help. Hey, I see you now, Lord. I have opened the eyes of my heart.” Then you have to elevate. You have to elevate. You’re going to love this if you’re a nerd. I found out that atmospheric pressure gets less as elevation increases. Think about that spiritually speaking. Something hangs heavy over your life. You can’t make what’s hanging over you less heavy, but you can get up higher in your perspective if you will elevate and worship God and lift your hands and begin to praise him in the storm. When the waves come… I have a cheat sheet. Did y’all see this? I have the Words and the Approach and the Voices and the Expectations and the Shame. Remember we talked about this just like 25 minutes ago? That’s the WAVES. You didn’t know I was spelling anything. I snuck it in. I’m tricky. When the waves come up, I need to check this wave and see if I made it or if God made it. Okay. Okay, here comes the wave, but watch this. Just as soon as the wave comes, Breathe, Remember, Ask, Visualize, Elevate. Oh, that’s the BRAVE. Here it is in the series. When the WAVES come…because they will…get your BRAVE stirred up in your spirit, and wake up your faith in the stern of the ship. Here comes fear. Here comes panic. Here comes dread. Here comes embarrassment. Here come words. Here come actions. Here come voices. Here come expectations. Here comes shame, but here comes BRAVE. My God has given me the breath of life, and his Spirit is stronger than any storm. I’m pushing back waves. Come on, lift your hands. Lift your hands! Worship pushes back waves. Let the wind blow. There’s a stronger wind. Come worship. Elevate your praise.
We think it’s our circumstances that make us anxious but God’s trying to teach us something more.