Updated: Aug 26, 2018
When I was growing up, walking with God was quite a struggle for me. Like practically, what does that even mean? To do life with an all-powerful, all-seeing God isn't something we can really quantify or put into words. I grew up with a Christian family, but looking back, my relationship with God day to day wasn't as great as I thought it was. Sometimes I think church kids can actually struggle to place value on the saving grace of Jesus Christ. It’s because we’re so aware of it from a young age, so we take it for granted. We’re often so shielded from the issues going on in the world, that we almost don’t see how much we need Jesus.
Usually, when someone becomes a believer later on in life, they probably lived a life far from God. The contrast between their old life and their new life is so strikingly obvious. There’s dramatic change that occurs in their life and a clear recognition of their desperate need for Jesus.
For me that contrast wasn't there, which is both good and bad. The good side is, I was protected by parents who loved God deeply. But the bad side is, I never really pursued a relationship with Jesus to the extent that I should’ve done. This was because there was never this massive realisation of how much I needed God day to day. However, this realisation has become very real to me over the last few years.
A slave to fear
When I was around 11 years old, I suffered massive attacks from the enemy of fear and worry. I was a happy child, and had no major issues going in my life. I had good friends and family, but when I felt these intense emotions of fear and worry, I’d assume something must be wrong in my life even if this wasn’t the case. This is something that continued for years and years. For so long, I asked God to heal me and take away this problem. I tried seeing doctors and taking medication, which for me personally didn't help at all.
This was something that was so intense, so real and so tormenting. It was like the enemy was constantly knocking me around with a baseball bat; telling me what to feel, telling me I was always going to feel low and hopeless, telling me that there was no cure. As I got hit again and again I began to feel more and more disorientated.
I remember waking up in the morning with this tightness in my chest and this anxious feeling. I'd started to overthink and analyse every little detail to see what I might have done this time to cause this negative feeling. The more I believed this lie, the more ground the enemy took in my life. I started to form a more religious mindset - believing God was angry at me for something I did and that's the reason why I felt so bad. This was a struggle for all of my teenage life. Despite the fact I still had a great life and had plenty of reasons to be happy, I was still under immense attack.
Living in this place for so long distorted the way I saw God. I struggled to walk with him and hear him and I'd be increasingly frustrated when I felt he wasn't helping me. I knew I was saved, but I longed for a deeper relationship that I just couldn't get to. I became complacent and numb to a lot of the God stuff, without even realising the subtle drift.
But I got a breakthrough! Coming home after I finished university, I had gone through a breakup with my first girlfriend and was at an all-time low. I had neglected my relationship with God more than ever over uni and now was the time where I needed him more than ever before. I began attending church more regularly again and started to have closer friendships with more and more Christians. One friend in particular was crucial in ironing my creases and uprooting the inside junk. His steadfast trust in God was rubbing off on me day by day. For many months, I still had some bad episodes from time-to-time. But I was on the upward mend overall - I was getting stronger and stronger as I walked with God.
One of the most important things in my life at this point (and in all our lives) is worship. I never used to be into worship, but now it's one of my favourite things to do. If anyone reading this is struggling with depression or worry, worshipping is one of the best things you can do right now! When we worship we’re admitting that we’re fully dependent on God. It’s a powerful demonstration that says "God my life is messy. I feel broken and there are lots of issues with me. But I can't make myself right, only you can!"
Worship is a spiritual weapon. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says, "For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds". That word stronghold refers to a place that is fortified and built up. Often the enemy will seed things in our lives. As we believe and accept these seeds, they become the building blocks of the enemy’s strongholds. But this verse says that our spiritual weapons, such as worship, are used to destroy these things. We don't have to magnify the stronghold in order to tear it down, we just need pray and worship.
Psalm 34:7 says "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and rescues them". The Word says that when we fear him (which is to give him reverence and worship) that angels surround us and work in our lives. When I became a worshipper, I saw such a significant shift in my life. When our hearts are heavy, burdened and busy, we’re not focused on the right thing. Worship is our factory reset. When our phones crash out because they’re filled with junk and overworking, sometimes we need to reset back to its default. Back to how it was originally created and intended to work. When we worship, we return to the place we were created for- to be in communion and fellowship with God.
The Peace of God
Worship opens the doors of our heart to peace, which is integral in our walk with God. In Colossians 3:15 AMP it says "And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts". To have "harmony" is to have unity and wholeness within our soul and this is crucial to hearing God’s voice and having a fruitful relationship with him - as we remain calm and steadfast.
In Mark 4, Jesus tells the parable of the sower. There is amazing revelation within this passage. In verses 18 and 19, Jesus says the seed (representing the Word) is sown among the thorns and they choke the seed, representing the "cares and anxieties of the world". When we take upon ourselves the things that we ought to leave to God, we’re allowing the thorns to choke the Word God has spoken to us, which includes his peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (John 14:27). Pastor Bill Johnson explains it like this. It's not our ability to hear God that is our problem, but our willingness to listen to other voices. When we listen to the voice of anxiety, instead of the Word of God, which is peace, we allow the peace to be choked from us and we end up incapable of hearing him clearly.
If we feel anxious, we have the choice to either let it take root in us or not. For example, when Peter walked on the water, he saw the wind and waves all around him and felt afraid. He could have held on to the voice of Jesus despite his feelings and fears. But instead, he listened to the worry he felt and so the Word Jesus spoke to him was choked by the thorns as he sank. This was my problem for years, as I would worry about everything I should’ve left to God. I’d wrongly allow myself to feel bad and low, just because I felt a feeling. We must be bold and adamant to block these negative things out and allow peace to reign.
I wasted so much time living from feelings and emotions, and it stole from me the real power of having a relationship with God. Now that I allow peace to rule over my heart, I can listen and respond to that nudge and whisper of the Holy Spirit. I can weigh situations up in my mind and follow peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. This isn't a small side addition to life, but something that must rule over us day by day. It’s essential we have this attitude if we want to have a steadfast relationship with God.
John 14:27 | Mark 4:1-20 | Colossians 3:15 |Psalm 34:7 | Isaiah 41:10 | Jeremiah 17:7-8 | Exodus 14:13-14 | Matthew 14:22-32 | Philippians 4:6-8