On Wednesday, January 31st, I waited almost 4 hours while Ron underwent serious eye surgery. The final day of January 2018, became what I call Philippians 4:6 & 7 Practice.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
These words are for me some of the most important ever written. Penned by the Apostle Paul when he was in prison somewhere around 62 AD, these two short verses provide a powerful prayer model that works—especially during stressful times.
Why is it that a few lines from a letter written almost 2000 years ago—a letter tucked into the back of a book that has been printed some five billion times in the past 200 years–remain relevant to a grandma living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in 2018?
With all my heart, I believe the Bible is God’s idea—God’s way of communicating divine and timeless truth. During my recent season of concern, I’m more convinced than ever the message of Philippians 4:6 & 7 is relevant.
In the last Listening on the Journey… post (February 5, 2018), we looked at Verse 6. Today, we’ll dive into Verse 7.
In Verse 6, Paul presents a process for acknowledging, praying about, and giving thanks during times of anxiety. Verse 7 gives the outcome. Paul wrote these words from a place of painful personal experience, and I find something powerful about learning from someone who’s “been there/learned that!”
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 peace is soul-serenity, which Paul explains we may not understand but, yet, can fully experience.
Sometimes, when I’ve practiced this passage of scripture, despite that ‘worry gene,’ which lurks in my DNA, I’m aware of a type of an I-just-don’t-get-it calmness. Philippians 4:7 peace is a feeling, which at times has caused me to worry because I wasn’t worried!
Before I proceed, though, I must say that even though my words may seem to imply the process of finding peace can be reduced to a formula, in fact, that isn’t true. Generally, I avoid any type of spiritual formula, but as I thought about the title for this post, I was aware of the systematic process Paul presents. I realized I’ve used this process on numerous occasions for many years. Even as Paul’s peace-producing process has helped me and countless others, I hope my experience and words may help someone reading today’s Listening on the Journey… post.
As I lay awake much of the night following Ron’s surgery, I felt anxious because Ron’s pain was preventing him from resting well. During those sleepless hours, I was reminded once again that the formation of my faith has been a journey—one I believe will continue until I’ve exhaled my last earthly breath.
Oftentimes, my spirit collides with my humanity. I don’t want to do so, but still I succumb to natural emotional reactions, such as anxiety.
That’s all right.
God understands that even though my spirit may be willing, it’s also fragile.
It’s times like this when I’m humbled by my frailty.
It’s times like this when I’m able to rest in the strong arms of my Abba Father.
It’s times like this when I realize my journey of faith isn’t about perfection—but, it
does involve progress.
As I attempt to become a spiritually mature woman, I find greater success when I’m gentle with myself concerning weaknesses. Gentleness, however, doesn’t mean I can ignore or keep excusing weakness forever. I must also accept my responsibility and make decisions for the way in which I proceed in my journey of faith—even when circumstances are less than lovely or when life has treated me unfairly.
Passages of scripture such as Philippians 4:6 & 7 provide tools that help me learn and grow. My hope and prayer are that these two short verses will do the same for you.
Blessings on your journey of faith…
P.S. By the way, in case you’re wondering, Ron is progressing well. This morning, I’ll chauffer my husband—hopefully, for the last time in a long while—to his medical appointment. The eye surgeon will remove the 16 stitches (I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that number!) he placed in Ron’s eye eight days ago. Our hope is soon my husband, who has experienced more than a few anxious moments related to his vision, will enjoy pre-teen eyesight!
For all who’ve prayed for Ron and sent well wishes, THANK YOU!!
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