by Dawn Lipsey
I've been training for a triathlon sprint which includes a 400 meter swim, 12.5 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. As long as I'm on solid ground, I'm good. I'm comfortable. But put me in open water with no sides of the pool on which to cling when I'm tired, and fear and anxiety begin to settle in. Each day I go to swim, I work on new breathing techniques and things to help, but my breathing continues faster and faster as the worry and fearful thoughts take presidence.
Through this training I've been reminded that strength comes from the repeat. What am I repeating? Whatever I repeat, gets stronger and stronger. Whenever I excercise, I repeat it continually, not just one day, so that I get stronger. But what do I do with my mind? What do I do with my thoughts? What is on repeat and what will I do or think AGAIN? There will always be an "AGAIN". It's my choice what that will be.
AGAIN moments are all around us, the consequences being good or bad. Galatians 5:1 says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened AGAIN by a yoke of slavery." Notice our opportunity for an AGAIN moment. It happens more than you realize. Philippians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and AGAIN I say, Rejoice." There it is-- an AGAIN moment! God tells me what to do AGAIN - REJOICE! He tells me what not to do AGAIN -- be enslaved and burdened by things including fear. I'm to live a life of freedom and that includes in my thoughts. Anxiousness and fear oppose freedom! They bind me up so tightly that I can't enjoy life. That is what I've been doing with my thoughts. Like on a spindle, just winding fear around my heart and mind over and over.
Strength comes from repeat! This is where meditating on God's Word is so important. I set my mind on Him and on His Word. I put It on repeat in my mind so that I hear It and say It over and over. One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 26:3 (ESV), "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." I live by this scripture and make it personal-- "You, God, will keep me in perfect peace because I keep my mind on you, because I trust You! I keep my mind on You, not on the fear of all that could go wrong and all that I don't know how to do, not on all the 'what if's' that haunt me, but on You, God, over and over AGAIN."
I normally find a scripture and a song to help me through my fearful, anxious moments. For this particular season of training, my song has been Psalm 23 (I Am Not Alone). It begins with, "The Lord is my Shepherd, He goes before me, Defender behind me, I won't fear." Literally, when I jumped into the river the morning of the triathlon, these words rang in my ears and kept my strokes and breathing to a calm, regular rhythm. As I neared the shore, I was mentally singing, "Your Spirit lives within me, So I will walk in Your peace, Your Spirit lives within me, My victory, My victory!" Strength comes from the repeat! I made a choice on what to repeat physically and mentally to gain my victory. In order to make it through a triathlon, you must train. You must be consistent. You must persevere daily in order to make it through the actual event. Same for my mind. When I became aware of the echoes of fear I was allowing to sound on repeat in my mind AGAIN, I made a conscious choice to replace those thoughts with trust in my God, to keep my mind on Him so that I would function in His perfect peace. It wasn't automatic. I had to keep capturing my anxious thoughts every single time they tried to take back over and replace them AGAIN with my song of peace (and pace for that matter) with every stroke. Then by race day, it was automatic. I couldn't help but smile as I exited the water and thought, "That was so much easier His way!"
My prayer is that I can apply this to all aspects of my daily life that causes my heart to race in anxiousness or my mind to spiral in nonsense. What will I choose to practice AGAIN? Fear or peace? He keeps me in perfect pace with His peace IF I keep my mind on Him because I trust Him. Strength is in the repeat. I choose today to keep His Word through scripture or song on repeat in my heart and mind. It's worth the effort to stay in perfect rhythm with the Word!