Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain . . . eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalms 127:1-2
In my addiction, anxiety – previously not something with which I’d struggled – became a constant companion as I was continuously afraid of discovery. I’m going to lose everything when someone finds out. Ironically, I initially took pills for sleep, but in the end, I kept eating the very thing that caused me the most anxiety and insomnia.
Like the food addict who longs to be skinny, but can’t stop eating that which keeps him overweight, I asked God to magically counter the effects of what I was doing to myself. Sure, I asked God to make me stop using, but I refused to change my toxic behavior, so then, I prayed that God would simply remove the consequences of that behavior.
Angst-ridden, I would lie awake, desperately begging for God’s peace and rest. To this, I heard him say, You have built this life with brick after poisonous brick, and now you want my healing? You consume madness and ask me to turn it to joy? That’s not how this works. You’ve sown the seeds of corruption and you will continue to reap its fruit until you turn and follow me.
This was the message of the Psalmist in today’s passage who explained that when we build a life on anything but God, we build in vain. When we pursue our way, instead of God’s, we eat the bread of anxiety. We do not get to build a life with brick after brick of selfishness and then expect that God magically fill that life with his blessings.
If we want to know God and if we want to know his peace and rest, we must allow him to shape our lives. We must look to him daily, following his will in all things. What destructive behavior must I abandon today, God? How can I follow and love you more? It is only in pursuing God instead of ourselves that we are filled with his life, joy and peace.