It's been one of those weeks.
You know, the kind where you are just ready to throw in the hat, give up on humanity, and quit trying to win this rat race.
Yet, the more I wrestle with those thoughts and feelings, the more God reveals to me the problem: I'm not a rat. I'm not in a race. I'm on a journey and, at the end of the day, the journey really has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.
In the midst of my frustration, heartache and, yes, self-pity, the kids and I have been wrapping up a study on Philippians 4. I can't seem to get past this concept of rejoicing no matter what and the peace which is promised...
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
- Philippians 4:4-9
Paul says "rejoice" TWICE before he launches into the supporting details. (hmmmm, must be important).
Then, he prescribes what I see as a recipe for rejoicing:
- Let your reasonableness be known to EVERYONE (i.e., your husband, your kids, your in-laws and even to the stranger at the grocery store who is irritated with your kids for bumping into their cart while waiting in line!)
- Don't be anxious
- .... instead pray, ask, give thanks in EVERYTHING (i.e., pay-check bonuses, job loss, old friends visit, family member passes away.... e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g!!!)
Results? Peace of God... the kind of peace that makes NO sense... will guard your heart and mind in Christ.
That's a John 14:27 kind of peace...
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
The kind which is grown and recognized by abiding in John 15. Paul knows this because, honestly, these are GOD'S words in Philippians, poured through Paul because he proceeds with this prescription for peace which guards hearts and minds...
Think about these things...
- whatever (could be anything, but whatever) is true (whether you agree with it or not, see TRUTH and think on it)
- whatever is honorable (and honors God)
- whatever is just (whatever is right... don't dwell on wrong)
- whatever is pure (and holy... don't waste time on impure thoughts and actions, it will pollute your mind and cloud your thinking)
- whatever is lovely (in the site of the Lord)
- whatever is commendable (worth noticing and glorifying to God)
- if there is any excellence
- if there is anything worthy of praise
And Paul goes on to point out, whatever we learn and see in God's Word, in His disciples, practice it (that's an action).
The results? The God of peace will be with us. You know, that peace that makes no sense whatsoever? That peace. That BIG HUGE STRONG God of the adage, "Quit telling God how big the storm is and start telling the storm how BIG your God is"? That God.
Paul knew first hand what he was talking about. As a matter of fact, this peace and rejoicing stuff was summed up well in verses 11-13...
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
This isn't prosperity gospel. If anything, it is anti-prosperity gospel because Paul is saying, "I don't need stuff to be content... I just need Jesus. HE is the one who gives me strength for all this rejoicing and peace no-matter-what stuff."
So, this week, as I thought we were buying a car (papers were signed and everything) and then I found out the dealership had glazed over serious problems with the car and I was the one that had to go up to the big scary servicing guy (I cower in the face of potential intimidation and confrontation) I was nearly sick to my stomach with fear. For an entire day afterward I couldn't even look at car sales ads or see the dealership's name without recalling the intimidating and snake-ish handling... yet, I prayed.
I remembered, peace isn't just spread out and left to work. Peace is given, but, it GROWS in a heart and mind which is cultivating it. Instead of getting angry or upset, I sought to reflect the power of God by letting my reasonableness be known... even to the scary guy at the dealership when he tried to act like it wasn't their problem, it was just a routine maintenance issue (in fact, it was a dealership negligence issue, my mechanic confirmed it).
I prayed, and asked for more peace and thanked God because we caught the problem before (and only just) the grace period ran out so we could return it instead of being stuck with a $1500 repair bill on a car we just bought.
And as I have 'recovered' from the ONE situation that disarms me every-single-time, I haven't drifted away because I have remembered - even if it doesn't make sense - God is still God and He is still Good and HIS PEACE will rein in my heart and thoughts... and in this I can rejoice ♥
I pray you cultivate a heart and mind prepared to bask in the mighty peace of God so that you might rejoice in ALL things!