24/05/2019 - Philippians 4:7 'And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no worrying thoughts or feelings could ever get into our hearts and minds? Think of how much energy we would have if we weren’t constantly doing battle with worry? Think of how liberated we could feel - of how we could enjoy the panoramic view of life. Life throws up many challenges, but they can all be worked through if we are standing on a firm foundation.
We can get used to worrying. It can become a close companion – our insurance against ‘getting something wrong.’ There is a right kind of worry. You could think, ‘Did I shut the front door when I left the house this morning? Actually, I didn’t because I walked out with my hands full, expecting to go back, but then didn’t because I was distracted by the phone call.’ I then have a concern that someone could walk into my house, so I phone a neighbour to ask him to close the door. That is a proper response to a proper concern but if I go back twice every day to check the door then that is no longer a proper concern but worry. So, by ‘worry’ we mean something that could start as a legitimate concern but then turns into something quite unnecessary, irrational and debilitating.
How do we deal with concerns that start well and go to seed? The answer is ‘the peace of God.’ It is a peace ‘exceeding all mind.’ It goes way beyond the capacity of the human mind to grasp or calculate. It defies reason. When life looks messy this peace contradicts the mess. Why? Because it has its origin in the heart of God. Jesus came to earth to give his life so we could live close to the heart of God. He said, ‘I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid’ (John 14:27 NLT).
Don’t waste time trying to eliminate worry by endless calculation. Looking at a subject from a thousand different angles won’t bring peace – just a headache. It exceeds mind. It’s about living in what we already have – the peace of God. That includes direction, perspective, understanding – but it comes from the heart of God. In other words, God will lead us into the path of peace and that peace will always lead us to the heart of God because he is the ‘God of peace’ (Romans 15:33). We know if we are missing that path because it leads away from peace. It is like the old game of ‘hunt the thimble’ when the person hunting is told when they are moving closer to the hidden object by ‘you are getting warmer’. Does your peace diminish when you go down a particular path in your thinking or does it increase?
Once you have settled the right position to adopt on an issue then how do you stand against the doubts that you have done the right thing? In our verse, Paul tells us that this peace acts like a garrison of soldiers surrounding our hearts and minds preventing those wrong thoughts and feelings from penetrating the line of defence. Peace is a path and a position. We grow in trust as we walk with God. We learn to recognise when the way we feel about ourselves takes precedence over the way God feels about us and is directing us. By exercising the discipline of not accepting worry we learn trust, we discover the big picture, we grow out of our need to double check everything and we move forward right at the centre of the purposes of God for our lives.
On 26/05/2019 Nicky wrote: Thank you, John, for this reassuring message.
On 27/05/2019 Mike wrote: Recently getting lost on a simple errand in distant Cornwall found myself more personally angry with Me than actually worried about getting home! Somehow felt sure I'd be ok - which I was of course with the usual calm divine intervention - but was far from at peace with myself for getting in the muddle in the first place. Id like to understand the whole process better please!
On 31/05/2019 John wrote: Interesting question, Mike. Interesting because it illustrates well the dynamics at work within us as human beings. You faced two pressures. The first was to get home and the second was to cope with your view of yourself. Your trust in God for getting home gave you peace. Your lack of trust in yourself put you in a muddle. If our view of ourselves is negative then, when we make a mistake, it gets blown out of all proportion and serves to demonstrate how useless we are! So, your trust in God was commendable. You know he is trustworthy, you have proved that over many years. You don't have the same positive view of yourself. How can we change that? It is a process of recognising that our view of ourselves is inaccurate and using those times when we start being negative towards ourselves as reminders to consciously challenge that negative view and to replace it with the positive way that God sees us. I hope that helps.