Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nothing means "no thing"

If we have been in church for a while, we probably have heard the verse which tells us to "be anxious for nothing", right? Do we know the context of the verse, though?  Probably not. Let me set this up for us a little.  Paul has been talking to the believers at Philippi about those in this world who may oppose their beliefs, ridiculing them for their faith, and even persecuting them because they are followers of Jesus.  He likens them to "dogs who run in packs" looking for someone to pounce on and maul with their viscous attacks, throwing around their "religious pedigrees".  I like when he tells the believers he will make it through all the pain and suffering he will be enduring all because of his choice to follow Jesus when he says, "...nothing will stand in my way because he has grabbed me and won't let me go."  He is referring to Jesus holding him tightly through all circumstances - regardless of how painful they may appear, he will rise above them simply because God has him in his arms!  Those who reject the cross will often oppose it with great force - Paul encourages us to stand up against that force with a "force" they won't understand or be able to counter with their attacks!  The instruction he gives is to stand strong, but do it by keeping our "gentle nature" - so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in the footsteps of Jesus!

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. (Philippians 4:6-7 VOICE)

Pray about everything.  How many of us actually do this? Yes, when crisis comes our way, with the "suddenness" of the moment catching us by surprise, we lift prayers.  It is like we suddenly feel the turbulence in the plane and begin to pray the plane will not fall from the sky!  We are "crisis" oriented at times - prayer not being one of our top priorities when things are going "right".  Yet, if we understand what Paul is instructing, it can revolutionize our lives!  God is just about silly with glee whenever we take time to just talk with him! He already knows our needs, but there is something which happens in us when we express them to him - it isn't that our prayers unlock heaven's gates!  We get our focus changed when we pray - allowing us to shift our trust from self to the one who already has the problem handled!

Talk to God - that is what prayer is anyway - it is communication between two people deeply in love with each other!  How does love grow if there is no communication? If we don't communicate (and it goes both ways), we will find ourselves drifting away from the one who mattered so much to us at one time.  Followers don't get distracted in their following because there are these frequent times of reconnecting with the one they are following!  Sometimes it isn't what we share as much as it is about what it is we choose to bear.  We often bear things inside for way to long without ever even admitting to ourselves they are there!  It is like we think if we ignore the feelings, don't deal with the attitude, or just simply turn a blind eye to the struggle, it will somehow just get bored and go away!  Truth is, nothing ignored really goes away - it just looks for another opportunity to make itself known!

Most of the time, it is the battle which rages in our hearts and minds which gives us the greatest nightmares.  Heart is just a fancy word for our emotions and we all know how much unrest our emotions can bring.  Minds is the all-inclusive term used to describe thought, reasoning, intelligence, and meditation.  If we want to do well in either of these arenas in our lives, we need to get both under control - not ours, but his!  What happens when we finally talk to him about what it is we are sensing ("feeling"), we can finally put a "name" to the ideas we are entertaining by those emotions and we can begin to have those emotions shift from "unreasonable" into the "reasonable" category.  Peace begins to settle in because when we invite the person of peace into our midst, peace is the prevailing force which enters with him!

What makes us anxious?  If we believe what Paul says, it is "things".  No revelation there!  Things come and things go. All have the potential to make life a little haggard at times! We have no greater power over "things" (and even other people) than we do when the peace of Christ begins to settle our minds and hearts in the midst of "things" getting in our way.  All anxiety is really based in this matter of trust - what or who we are placing our trust in at the moment.  Believe your emotions and you will find the situation overwhelming and unbelievably hard.  Believe your thoughts at times and you will see yourself as little, frail, and unable.  Believe your thoughts at other times and you will see yourself as needing no one because you have things under control.  Either way, we see a different perspective when we finally begin to talk to God about the circumstances (even the mundane ones) of our lives.  

Nothing stands in the way of the one securely in the arms of Jesus.  Nothing overtakes the thoughts and emotions of the one who shares what they are going through with the one who holds them so close!  Nothing!  Just sayin!