A few heartbeats away lies the holiday season. I know, I know. Just the mention of it covers your now rapidly-beating heart with a blanket of stress. Gifts. Parties. Decorations. Events. Dinners. So much to do in so little time.
I’d like to slow your heart rate for a few minutes with a thought that might encourage you to breathe a little deeper and offer up a sigh of relief as we jet toward 2019. (Go ahead, and take a breath now.)
We will soon exit the frightful month of October. Has it been a scary one for you? Or, have the months leading up to October been frustrating? Have significant changes jumped out at you or have unforeseen circumstances caught you by surprise? Maybe, you’ve been scared out of your ever-loving mind by the overwhelming number of Satan’s fiery darts you’ve had to dodge. Are you looking forward to some thanksgiving, peace and joy, and a happier new year?
In Freedom for the Good Little Church Girl I made a statement that was actually more of a confession:
“They’ve [good little church girls and boys] grown so accustomed to constantly striving, that lives lived without the strain seem almost irreverent.”
While that quote addresses the problem of trying to earn our salvation, many Christians and non-Christians alike currently live under so much stress that inner conflict has become our default mechanism. Many Christians have forgotten what peace feels like – if they ever truly knew. Whenever their minds experience even the smallest release of tension, some of them begin to look for something to worry about or fret over. In some warped kind of way, they miss the tension to which they’ve grown accustomed. Let’s face it, for most of us it’s become harder and harder to relax our minds. Peace, though a necessity for a soul-satisfied Christian, has become an elusive promise.
A couple of weeks ago at a Beth Moore conference I bought the shirt pictured above. “Just Breathe” seemed like a great tagline to remind me of my newly-formed attitude. Philippians 4:6-7 says:
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
It was the word THANKSGIVING that caught my attention. It convicted me of the fact that I forfeited my peace when I forgot to be thankful. I looked at my circumstances and saw a tsunami of devastating unrest when I should have looked at my Jesus standing peacefully in the middle of the surging wave. Had my eyes been fixed on Him, I would have remembered to thank Him for all the times He had stayed with me and restored my peace. Focusing on His calmness in those past painful moments would have more quickly restored my confidence knowing that He could and would do it again. And, had I spent more time with the people He sent to love on me rather than isolating myself, I would have thanked Him and them sooner and more passionately for their hugs, smiles, and encouraging words of wisdom.
Today, the thankfulness I’ve most recently discovered may be wearing out the little army God sent to my rescue. I sure hope they don’t mind being overwhelmed with gratitude. Expressing my thanks helps me focus on whatsoever things are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8) I doubt God gets tired of hearing our thanks because He knows our willingness to be thankful allows our minds the opportunity to rest peacefully.
Your worries can be defeated by giving them to God with prayers of thanksgiving. Thankful prayers produce peace. And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. That’s a never-ending cycle of promises you can count on; so just breathe!
If no one has thanked you yet for anything today, let me be the first! Thank you for traveling with me here at Perfection Road every Tuesday. You’ve become part of my larger army! Thank you for sharing my stories with others. Thank you for your encouraging words and thoughtful comments. Thank you for reading and sharing Freedom for the Good Little Church Girl. Most of all, thank you for your prayers. I know exactly how Paul felt about the Philippians because I feel the same way about you!
“I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Indeed, it is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace.” (Philippians 1:3-7a)
Ahhhh! Thanksgiving! Peace and joy! In October! Let’s celebrate!