Monday, January 11, 2010

God is near...

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:5-6

I pretty much failed at not being anxious today. I woke up in a panic filled with turmoil over a lack of income, a lack of time, a lack of purpose, a lack of having put away the Christmas decorations. I was "anxious about everthing and there was little prayer, little petition and definitely no thanksgiving as I presented my, hmmm, not requests, more like grumblings to God." And true to form there was little peace and so what would make sense from the above verse is that my heart and my mind was left unguarded. Nobody really noticed - just everyone around me - as I place my expectations, my lack of gratitude and my grumpiness on everyone else. What usually results is blame...my bad attitude is everyone else's fault. And the truth is everyone noticed and did not want to be around me. Around 3 pm I had the morning time with God that I was going to have at 7 as I got up early to start my day. Only I did not start my day early enough.

"In everything by prayer and petition with THANKSGIVING..."

Go back a verse to Philippians 4:4: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious..." Verses 5 and 6 are so often quoted and at least in my case I think they should always include verse 4. I say this because rejoicing - abounding joy - joy on display sure does lead to a lack of anxiety. Joy leads me into the belly of thankfulness. And catch that other word that found it's way into verse 4: "gentleness". Why in the world would Paul filled with the Holy Spirit of God write that our gentleness should be evident to all - surely that does not include my family does it?

The opposite of gentleness holds a lot of anxiety doesn't it? Can anxiety be gentle? Looking back on today - how I snapped at my family and grumbled about them not appreciating me - sure was not gentle. Gentle is not about being wimpy and letting everyone walk over you. It is a quality of maturity that is one who strives after peace and not quarrelsome. (See 1 Tim 3:3, Titus 3:2, James 3:17) The one who pursues peace is one who surrenders their attitude to God and strives for joy, thankfulness, gentleness as they trust God to care them and the burdens that they hold on to as they awaken. Pursuing peace leads us to peace.

"Rejoice in the Lord, always. Again I say: Rejoice. Let your your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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." Phil 4:4-6

"The Lord is near." Wow. I got so caught up in what my attitude should be: joy, thankful, peace...I nearly left out that amazing little sentence that we have clung to so many times during Jacob's Journey. God is very near. God is in the midst of each moment. He does not have to be asked to show up. We do not need to go find him. I do not need to go anywhere special to be with him - for he is near. He is on top of us in this very moment - moments of sin and moments of glory - he is near. Does that not remove a bit of anxiety? I guess it might add a little for those times of sinning - but his forgiveness and grace and never away from him. His character is fully in tact all the time and he is present with me. No matter how big and harry the worry is - income, health, death - my loving, gracious Savior is near, available, receiving each request by prayer and petition. Ready and able to guard our hearts and our minds - there is peace.
Tomorrow as we take Jacob to have his thumb examined once again by Dr. Berger (11 am) would you be willing to say a prayer with us for recognizing the nearness of God - that we would not be anxious but be gentle and at peace. I think that would be an amazing prayer for each of us. Pray it for those other communities that we are watching.

God is near.

Tom (daddy)

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