The Anxious Hill
Sometimes there is nothing more powerful than a memory. While negative memories can bring pain, positive memories take us to moments of bliss and peace that pull us away from the stressors of the world around us. We tend to cling to these, often experiencing peace as subtle smiles form on our faces as those memorable experiences dance across our brains. Memories bring calming peace, moments when the world shuts up and our hearts rest.
My wife, Amy, is excellent at leveraging the calming peace of memories. Whenever we go on vacation together, she scours our destination for a particular memento, a watercolor painting of one of the sites we’ve visited on the trip. When we return home, she finds the perfect frame for this memory, prepares it, hangs it on one of the walls in our home, and smiles as she enjoys the beauty of what that painting represents. You can’t walk through the house without having your eyes drawn to one of these memorial paintings.
Memories bring calming peace, moments when the world shuts up and our hearts rest.
One of my favorite paintings is of a small street behind the Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart) basilica on Montmartre in Paris, France. While the basilica itself is pretty incredible; for me, that little street behind Sacré-Cœur reminds me more of God than any of the marble pillars we saw. After we climbed the hill of Montmartre to see the basilica, we arrived at a hilltop teaming with people. Tourists, street vendors, tour guides, and locals crowded the small area so much that it brought incredible anxiety to anyone visiting. My hands turned white as I clung to my wallet, passport, and keys. I looked at my wife, looking for a sign that moving on from the place was okay. She graciously granted my request, and we slowly found a random street that took us away from the anxiety-ridden area. That is where I found peace.
Slowly but surely, the crowds thinned out, and people seemed happier. Vendors became less pushy, and local cuisine became more apparent, so much so that I purchased the most oversized hotdog I’ve ever had. It was the size of my entire arm (I’m 6’5” tall), and I still talk about it to this day. With incredible food in one hand and the love of my life’s hand in the other, we slowly walked down the winding road to the bottom of the hill. On the way, we heard birds chirping, saw kids playing, smelled the sweet aroma of the trees, watched a live jazz band perform, and just enjoyed great conversation. By the time we reached the bottom, we felt so peaceful that the madness of the hilltop had dissipated entirely. I still experience a piece of that calm every time I look at our watercolor painting.
Anxiety is a powerful force that we all must deal with. It is overwhelming, crushing, and often debilitating. When it comes to overcoming anxiety, Jesus teaches us in Luke 12:22-34 to use our memory and consider what we know of God. When the harshness of life seems inescapable, we are to remember how God cares for the birds of the air, flowers on the ground, and even the grass. Considering that, He calls us to remember how much more valuable we are to God than those things!
When the harshness of life seems inescapable, we are to remember how God cares for the birds of the air, flowers on the ground, and even the grass.
Engaging the memory that God created us and the sacrifice He made for us through His Son, Jesus, drives us towards a peace that can only be found in Him. We are brought to the many moments He has provided for us by remembering who God is, which helps us move forward. When we seek His kingdom rather than the mania of the world, we finally move, finding calmness in His loving provision. Recalling what we know of God is the first step toward seeking His kingdom. If we want peace, we must know the God who controls it.
Whenever I see that painting in my home, I feel immense peace. I am reminded of the stones under my feet, the feeling of my wife’s hand in mine, the taste of that fantastic hotdog (seriously…it was incredible), the smell of the trees, and the sweet jazz music tingling my ears. More importantly, I am reminded of the moment I gave complete praise and gratitude to God for blessing me with that moment. My experience on that street would not have happened without His plan and everything behind it. My God was/is faithful and would always take care of me.
See, to realize that truth in the moment, I had to climb the anxious hill to walk down the calming path. He used that experience to press me into His goodness and gave me the gift of a memory that helps me seek His kingdom to this day. Friends, when we remember how much God loves us (Luke 12:28) and seek His Kingdom with trust (Luke 12:31-32), then internal calmness will come. It all begins with remembering. What things in your life remind you of who God is?