Did you ever play with wind-up toys as a kid? Remember how if you wound the toy too far, it broke? Well, you are the wind-up toy. You are the wind-up toy, and anxiety keeps winding and winding you up. At some point, anxiety could over-wind you, so you’ll break. You’ll break emotionally, you’ll break spiritually, and you’ll break physically. Ironically, when we wind up, we break down.
Anxiety puts your body into high gear. When you’re supposed to be idling or even stopped, anxiety is revving your physical engine. When the light turns green, you’ve revved up so high that you shoot into the intersection of life, charged up and not always looking where you’re going.
Because you’re revving at such a high speed, you’ve got to slam on the brakes hard if you need to stop. Sometimes, you find you can’t stop, and you run into things and people you shouldn’t. With anxiety constantly gunning your motor, you find you get lousy gas mileage. Anxiety is putting so much wear and tear on your body that at some point, the engine’s going to fall out.
You, of course, are not really a car, but your body is an intricate and beautifully made flesh-and-blood machine. When anxiety is in the driver’s seat of your life, that machine is bound to be overworked and overwrought. When there is no peace, your anxiety is always on the move, forcing the machine of your body to work, work, work.
Revved up, your body doesn’t get the time it needs to stand down, to relax, to rebuild itself, as God designed. Right after telling us to stop worrying, Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, asked this question: “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27). This was a rhetorical question, and Jesus did not intend for anyone to answer that question yes.
But isn’t that how anxiety answers that question? Anxiety says worrying is necessary in order to keep track of all of the potential dangers and problems and catastrophes just lurking around the corner. Anxiety says all of these things must be worried about and tracked, not only to ensure an additional hour, but maybe even an additional day or month or year!
Jesus is right and anxiety is wrong. Jesus says stop worrying and let tomorrow worry about itself. James echoes this: “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (James 4:14). Therein lies the secret of anxiety. We don’t really know what will happen tomorrow. Within that void of knowledge, we have a choice. We can either trust God, or we can trust anxiety which says we may not know what will happen tomorrow but we do know it will be bad.
Anxiety, as I’ve said before, puts people on the alert. That alert is lived out through physical responses. The engine of the body is constantly revving, using up fuel and physical resources, creating emotional and physical depletion.