Keeping the (Inner) Peace

Me and Pete, January, 2015
Me and my big brother, Pete, January, 2015

 

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

The phone rang Sunday morning as I was putting the finishing touches on my sermon.

The caller was my brother, Pete, who was experiencing serious health issues and requested prayer.

“Get yourself to an emergency room as soon as possible,” I told him. Then I prayed with him over the phone.

“What’s going on?” my husband asked as I hung up.

I related Pete’s symptoms. “From the sound of it, he needs immediate surgery. And he can’t have surgery until he’s been off his blood thinning medication for several days. He’s between a rock and a hard place.”

Then I remembered. I nodded to my open laptop on the dining room table. “And my sermon’s on peace as the fruit of the Spirit. How can I have peace, let alone preach on it, when my only brother is experiencing a life-threatening situation?”

I stepped into Dean’s arms for a hug.

“And guess what verse I was working on when the phone rang? Philippians 4:6 and 7—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.”

God sure has an uncanny sense of timing. Talk about having to practice what I preached!

But that’s what I had to do—pray about it, put it in God’s hands (where it was anyway), and not allow myself to worry about it.

Worry and anxiety are part of the human condition. But they do not have to be in me—worry and anxiety can exist outside of my mind and heart and spirit. They come knocking at the door when we least expect it, but we choose whether or not to let them in.

Not that I have no concerns. I do. I love; therefore, I have concerns. But notice I use the word “concern,” not “worry” or “anxiety.”

But it’s a war to fight them—those worries and anxieties.

We have two effective weapons against them—prayer and the Word of God—what Paul calls the “Sword of the Spirit” in his famous “Armor of God” letter to the church in Ephesus: “Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions” (Ephesians 6:17, 18).

But sometimes we pray and don’t let go. We hang onto the worry and anxiety. Why? Either we don’t trust God or we feel at least we’re doing something in a situation in which we feel helpless.

So I have to pray not only about the situation but also for the grace to let go of that which robs me of the peace God wants for me.

One way I can do that is to fix my mind on God. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV).

Notice the word “stayed.” Don’t let your mind wander from the One who gives help, hope, grace, and strength. Go to Philippians 4:8–9 for those things on which to focus your thoughts.

“Because he trusts in You”—the Amplified version adds to the meaning of “trusts”: “because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”

After six hours in the emergency room and several tests, my brother was released. Surgery is scheduled for this coming Thursday.

I will not worry. My mind is stayed on God. It is to Him that I commit myself, on Him I lean, and in Him I hope.

My brother is in good hands.

Thank you, Lord, for the Word that gives us peace we could never find elsewhere but in You. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Philippians 4:4–9

FYI: If you’re wondering why I was preparing a sermon, wonder no more. I’m the lay speaker/pastor for St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Punxsutawney. (I call them “my little flock.”)

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