Peace that Passes Understanding
The following is the most popular post from my previous blog, which I’ve decided to post it again. It was written in the summer of 2010. The situation in my life has changed, but the principle remains the same. It really helps me to remember what I wrote, how I felt, at this time in my life.
I’ve become one of those people who pass much of their day drinking coffee in a coffee shop or bookstore, “working” on their laptops. I’ve always wondered why people do that. Don’t they have a home or an office? Doesn’t the constant stream of people and conversation around them bother them? Don’t they have somewhere else to be?
I have a comfortable home with plenty of peace and quiet, but I get tired of staring at the same four walls at home, chores all completed, fighting the urge to watch television all day in a state of numb oblivion. I’ve recently, shockingly, been laid off. Without a salary to depend on, I don’t want to do things that cost money. The coffee shop and bookstore have free wireless internet and perfect coffee. They allow me the faint distraction of evaluating other people’s fashion choices, in the most Christian way, of course ~ “Bless their hearts!” (How can you not notice and wonder a bit when the 60ish guy with a jet black mullet, choker necklace made of bones, short black shorts with surprisingly white legs, bright red socks, and black sandals comes strolling in? My own fashion sense isn’t always perfect, but some things just beg you to notice). It also occasionally allows me to run into someone I know and have a brief conversation, possibly a job opportunity? and keeps me from numbing out at home.
I sit here with plenty of time to think, feeling the weight of my situation. For months now, God has felt very near to me in a way I’ve never quite experienced before. There’s a sense of peace and inner joy that I cannot describe or even fully understand myself. I’ve been free of anxiety attacks and depression, in spite of the tremendous changes and stress-inducing circumstances in my life. Technically speaking, it’s not much of a stretch to say that I should be huddled in a corner, drooling, and mumbling something incoherent over and over again…
And yet, here I sit, calmly typing away at Starbucks, giggling at other people’s fashion sense, or lack thereof, drinking CAFFEINE. In the past, the littlest bit of caffeine sent me right over the edge, but I’m on my second cup without a hint of a side effect. Who am I? The answer is, I learned to live out Philippians 4:6-9.
Philippians 4:6-9 (New Living Translation)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
I’ve poured out my concerns to God, telling Him exactly what I need and desire, and thanking Him for the ways He has already provided. I have listened for His voice and done all I know to do to obey Him. I have fixed my thoughts (most of the time) on things that are ‘truehonorablerightpurelovelyadmirableexcellentworthyofpraise’, telling the fearful and anxious voices in my head to shut up and go away. Why should I be surprised that it’s actually working?
I’ve decided to believe. If God is God, then I must serve Him. If someone or something else is god, then I should serve that person or thing. I refuse to be wishy-washy in my faith, flopping from side to side, saying I trust God but running around in anxious circles, throwing my hands up in the air and crying. If I believe God is God, and I believe He speaks to me in a still, small voice of love, then I must faithfully obey His commands. Anything else is not faith.
I believe God has spoken to me clearly the same message for the last several months: be still, stop struggling, and wait for the redemption of the Lord. I believe He has said what He has for me will come to me in His timing, in His way, without all my frantic worrying.
Following the command in Philippians, I’ve spent a lot of time with the Lord, fasting and praying, laying out my concerns and requests before Him, asking for direction; asking Him to open the door before me and to keep me from making a foolish decision out of fear or desperation. If you really think about it, isn’t that what you expect a minister of the gospel to do when in this type of situation?
As long as I continue in the current course of action – waiting, praying, seeking God, and trusting Him to provide for me, I have an unexplainable peace. When I get my eyes off Jesus and look at the waves threatening to swallow me up, I face an overwhelming feeling that disaster is upon me. In those moments, I stop and evaluate my thoughts. I get my eyes back on Jesus and the calm returns. As I gaze into His eyes, I feel the most comforting sense of love, peace, and comfort.
I admit that one of my fears is that what I think is God’s voice is merely my own. As I consider that fear, I’ve come to a conclusion: If I’m wrong, then I’ll deal with the consequences of my decision. If I’m wrong, then it is ME who has failed to correctly discern God’s voice. I will not blame God or love and trust Him less. I will deal with my own lack of discernment and pick up the pieces.
One of the things God’s teaching me through this time of waiting is how to stand firm in my beliefs. This battle has been particularly difficult because those I love and respect don’t understand what I’m doing. I must stand firm in the belief that God hears my prayers. He’s teaching me something through this trial. He’s in control. What have I to fear? The only thing I can think of right now is that I fear looking like the older lady who just walked in wearing bright green, skinny jeans, a skin-tight black and white striped shirt, and purple high-tops. Oh my…