I am not sure why, but the last few weeks have been exceptionally hard for me. It seems like everywhere I looked and everything I did reminded me of my wife… and brought back sweet but very emotional memories of her smile, her laugh, her encouragement, her wonderful voice and the uncanny anointing she possessed to make any situation okay and in doing so fill our home, and me in particular, with peace.
For the last 47 plus years she has been my closest confidant in any and every situation that I ever faced. Whenever my mind was swirling with confusing or frustrating thoughts or pressures, she was always my calming oasis. A few moments of quiet discussion with her, while holding hands and looking into her bright brown eyes would set the storms in me at peace.
But I realized last night after dinner that her most-important-to-me voice of spiritual discernment and calm is not available to me right now. That reality suddenly hit me pretty hard. What do I do? Where do I go?
Then on the verge of tears I had to stand and place my hands on my wife’s thin shoulder and cry out: “God I need peace!” And without much other recourse, I sat back down on the couch and began to pray in the Spirit as I knew that my words were not capable of praying for the right concerns and might even prove to be detrimental to our stand of faith for Piper’s healing. (See: Romans 8:26, I Corinthians 14:14-15)
After a while I began to sense a calm coming upon me and felt a distant tinge of expectation building up from within. The rest of the night went well as Piper went to bed without a hitch and I was relaxed enough to dose off easily and even sleep for most of the night.
After a little rocky start, the morning today began to gain momentum for me when I felt the leading of the Lord to return to my studies where I had left off yesterday in the New Testament book of Philippians chapter four. Verses 6-7 in The Message Bible encouraged me right away by declaring:
“Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
I really needed to hear that last line in this modern paraphrased rendition of this verse. The idea of “Christ displacing worry at the center of” me immediately brought a vivid and tangible freshness of his love and His care for me and my wife at that very moment in time and place… right in the middle of our dining room as the sun outside was breaking through the overcast skies and the droplets of water from yesterday’s rains glistened in the reflection of the light as it beamed down upon the grass in the yard.
The God’s Word © translation of verse seven declares that “God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.” On a hunch I looked up the meaning of the word “emotion” and discovered that it is described as “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood or relationships with others… as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.” (Oxford online dictionary) At that point I realized that the Lord was showing me that without knowing it, I had been allowing my emotions to guide me more and more over the last few weeks.
That thought gave me a jolt as I instantly recalled our experiences of being on the receiving end of other people who were being led by their emotions that blocked their reason or accurate knowledge of our situation. Not only was that situation very frustrating and bizarre to us, it also proved very hurtful… and I definitely didn’t want any of that response in Piper’s and my home or in our lives at this critical time in our stand of faith!
A quick peek at the original Greek definition of the “Peace” that our scripture is centered around describes an atmosphere in us that includes: “security, safety, prosperity, and felicity.” (Thayer’s) It hit really close to home for me when I realized that “felicity” is defined as “the ability to find appropriate expression for one’s thoughts.” (Oxford online dictionary)
Wow… we also experienced the OPPOSITE of that definition when we saw the response of emotion without reason or knowledge leveled at us! So yea… God taught me somethings today!
First and most important was to get my mind off of the emotional aspects of what I have been seeing and thinking about in recent weeks and MAKE SURE that I have my thoughts and life CENTERED ON CHRIST. That direction leaves NO room for a negative response to the rollercoasters of life and thoughtless emotions, words and/or actions!
And in that position… “God’s peace” is well able to guard one’s “thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.” It would seem that the absence of Godly peace invites fear to take its place and thereby release all kinds of ugly thoughts and wild emotions into the situations of our lives. YUCK!
I am so thankful for God’s personal teachings to us through the truth of His Word… Aren’t you?
Have a super weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting God’s PEACE or my EMOTIONS to be my guide today?”