Book review · Uncategorized

How to be ‘C.A.L.M.’ in a chaotic world

This weekend I finished Max Lucado’s “Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World.” I saw on his website that he “writes books for people who don’t read books.” I liked the layout of the study on anxiety as well as the short chapters and brisk pace. I found myself quoting this book often to husband, Dave, as I read the past few weeks. (I read; Dave lets me read to him. It works.)

I liked how Lucado addressed some of the wrong ideas people hear when it comes to Christians and anxiety. While anxiety can lead people to sin, he said, anxiety itself is not a sin. “It’s an emotion. (So don’t be anxious about feeling anxious)” (8). It doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian if you are anxious. We battle anxiety. But we don’t have to stay anxious.

Here are some of the actionable items and food for thought I found that I have tucked away to help me find calm when I am anxious:

  1. I will remember Philippians 4:4-8 as C.A.L.M. Lucado provided a mnemonic device – C.A.L.M. – for readers to remember the key admonitions Paul makes in these verses. He called this passage “Paul’s prescription for anxiety.”  

C — Celebrate God’s goodness. A — Ask God for Help.  L – Leave your concerns with Him.  M – Meditate on good things.   

After the four admonitions is the promise of the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. “The presence of anxiety is unavoidable,” he said, “but the prison of anxiety is optional” (8).

2. I’m to “rejoice in the Lord always. Lucado said Paul wasn’t saying Christians “maintain an uninterrupted spirit of gladness.” He said to “rejoice in the Lord.” It’s not a feeling but a call, a decision to believe “God exists, that He is in control, and that He is good” (21). Love that.

3. God doesn’t need to secure the doors; He is the door. Lucado talked about how his dad would make the rounds before going to bed. He’d check the locks, then come into the boys’ room and tell them everything was secure. They could go to sleep. Lucado said of God, “He oversees your world. He monitors your life. He doesn’t check the doors; indeed, He is the door. Nothing will come your way apart from His permission” (11).

4. Be persistent in prayer like the widow. Lucado is an excellent storyteller. His descriptions in this retelling of Jesus’s parable of the persistent widow hooked me. I imagined his Cuban-cigar-smoking, corrupt judge, as well as the widow Ethel, (I cast Kristen Wiig in the role). In her plaid dress & jogging shoes, the widow bugged the dickens out of the judge until he finally gave in. He promised her justice. The glorious part: “this was a parable of contrast, not comparison” (81). God is not an unjust, reluctant judge. And we’re not bothering him with our requests. He will provide justice for His people. And we don’t have to try to get his attention. We have it. We’re his children and can go to Him at any time. And that leads into…

5. Be more specific when I pray. Lucado used the example of asking to have a meeting with someone to illustrate specific prayer. If you give a specific day and time, you show the person you are serious. Plus, when we pray specifically, we’re more apt to see God’s work on requests this way. Praying specifically will help me work out exactly what has been making me feel anxious; it’s no longer “ill defined and vague” (84).

6. I have comfort knowing “angels still come and help us.” Lucado gave examples first of Paul’s trip from Caesarea to Rome in Acts 27. An angel came to stand with him on the deck of the ship as it sailed through a Nor’easter. And then he gave the example of the angel protecting Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the fiery furnace. He reminded me that “[God] “has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go.” Psalm 91:11 NCV

7. I need to leave requests with God as I would a garment for repair. Lucado used appliance repair actually, but in my case , clothing repair is more likely since I have yet to learn how to use a sewing machine. When I’ve left garments for repair, I trust the lady at D&K Alterations to complete the task. I consider her an expert or I wouldn’t leave it with her. Lucado said most customers don’t offer to stay, help, offer advice, etc. No. We leave it and wait for the call when it’s ready for pickup. “Our protocol with God is equally simple. Leave your problems with Him” (148). He referenced 2 Tim. 1:12: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.”

8. I am the air traffic controller of my mental airport.  That was a favorite of another reviewer. I know deep down that I control my thought life. Thanks to Lucado, I now have this idea of an airport in my mind with “thought planes” circling overhead. I’m in the control tower. If I let a thought land, I cleared it for landing. Great imagery. I think we forget that we can decide what we choose to think about.

I understand why Lucado’s many works are ones pastors keep on hand in their reference library to help supplement their preaching points. His chapters are short, but well-packed with easily digestible memory food. He gives all his scripture references fully in the back of the book too, which is handy. (I didn’t realize that until I finished. Doh! But that’s a help since we’re working through this book now in my women’s Bible study.)  For more information, go to https://www.christianbook.com/anxious-nothing-finding-calm-chaotic-world/max-lucado/9780718096120/pd/096121 .

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