You know that physical sensation in the belly you get when you ride a roller coaster? It is fun and exciting because you trust the architect and have faith that you will safely come through on the other side. Anxiety causes the same sensation but is accompanied with the dread of the future and loss of control. Our lives can give us plenty of fodder for anxiety. Anxiety comes from stress of abuse or loss, marital strains, child rearing, work and school deadlines, financial difficulties, and more. And the results can be very unpleasant from pain in the lower back to headaches, restlessness to diarrhea. I told you the results weren’t pleasant! But that can all change when we partner with God to walk through the most difficult circumstances life can throw at us as seen in Philippians 4:4-9.
First, we are told to rejoice in the Lord and to give thanks in our prayers. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always… with thanksgiving…’(Phil 4:4, 5) We need to look around ourselves at the many blessings in our lives. God has given us family and friends who encourage us, resources to provide for our needs, communities of faith to grow spiritually. In doing so we ground ourselves in the goodness of God. We are reminded that he has and is faithful to us and will continue to be in the present situation we face. Paul says we can rejoice because, ‘The Lord is near.’ (Phil 4:5) Have you ever done a trust fall? You rely upon those around you to be close enough and strong enough to catch you. You can trust God to be both near enough and strong enough to catch you and lift you back to your feet when you fall.
Second, Paul tells us to be constant in prayer with the promise that when we do so, ‘The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’ (Phil 4:6) What a great privilege we have to go to the Lord and lay our burdens down. The problem is that we tend to heave them up upon our shoulders when we stop praying. Jesus calls to you, ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.’ (Matt 11:28) Pour out your thoughts and feelings to him and you will be amazed how he will give you insight and guidance as you listen to his voice. Then release your anxiety to him. He will take care of that which you cannot. He will see you through. The peace of God is powerful! It will guard your heart against doubt and despair. His peace will guard your mind against folly and self-criticism. In fact, Paul gives a whole list of the types of things you should feed your mind to find strength and peace: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Check all other thoughts at the door. Our transformation begins with our inner life, out thoughts and prayers. As Paul says in Romans 12:2, ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.’
Finally, Paul calls us to ‘put into practice’ what we have learned and seen in the lives of others. I can think about how I want to interact with my spouse, change a habit, or exhibit new qualities, but it won’t make a bit of difference until I actually do something about it. In fact, this is where many people fail to change. The do not really intend to change! When we come to Christ we are forgiven but we are not made perfect. The rest of our lives is a growing process in which we will shed the old and put on the new day by day and year by year. Paul promises us that ‘The God of Peace will be with you.’ Notice that Paul is saying that peace is not something that just comes from God but is a core attribute, much like the affirmation that John makes when he writes, ‘God is love.’ When you are trying to put into practice the insight God has given you and the character traits you see in other mature Christians, the God of peace will be with you to help you learn to walk in this new way. Like a mother or father holds the hands of an infant who is trying to walk, God supports and balances us and will not let harm come to us. He doesn’t just give us peace, he IS peace and always be with us as we walk in his way.
If you are facing some anxiety producing situation I encourage you to count your blessings, be constant in prayer, think on good things, and put into practice what you know to be right. You will realize that the Lord is faithfully near, he will guard your heart and mind from turmoil, and he will hold your hand as you walk in the way that leads to life. When you find yourself hyperventilating over life look to the God of peace.
Annual Hal Sutton Golf Tournament • April 21, 2016
Sporting Clays Tournament • August 28, 2016
ONGOING STUDIES (Drop-ins are always welcome!)
Tuesdays • Noon • Courtyard Kitchen • Led by Goeff Westmoreland
Wednesdays • 6:45AM • Courtyard Kitchen • Led by Dr. Jonathan Beck
Thursdays • Noon • Courtyard Kitchen • Led by Dr. Jonathan Beck
Fridays • Noon • Progressive Bank, Fern Ave. • Led by Chris Rea