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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Dedicated in Peace

You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You.  (Isaiah 26:3)

There are times in life when the furthest thing from my life are peace and a sense of security.  When I was much younger, I was rear-ended by a rather large car while I stood stopped for a motorist a few cars ahead of me attempting to execute a left-hand turn from a busy roadway.  At a dead stop, when a "boat" of a car hits you at 45 miles per hour, you take a huge impact - even when you do know they attempted to stop, but way too late.  For months and months after that, whenever I heard the screeching of tires against pavement it elicited the same immediate tight response in my chest, heart rate rapidly rising, and a sense of dread coming over me.  In an instant I could go from being at peace to being in total panic - all over a sound!  What my mind processed when it heard that sound was "brace yourself for the impact" - despite the evidence to the contrary, my mind told my body to prepare and it did!  I didn't know peace because I had come to associate the sound with pain.  Some of us live day after day with the impression some particular action will always produce pain in our lives - leaving us without peace in relationships, fearful of taking a move in a new direction in our lives, or just plain "muddled up" on the inside so much so we cannot really enjoy life.  God's message to those of us who have come to "associate" some action with pain is this:  Peace comes to those who dedicate their hearts and minds to the Person of Peace.  

I like something my pastor says from time to time, but I am going to change it ever so slightly to fit the message today.  It goes something like this:  You can be at peace in the same pants that you are out of peace in!  (His version is that you can be happy in the same pants you got mad in)  We want to believe peace is because of the absence of some particular "thing" in our lives, all the while missing the point it is missing because we haven't allowed peace into either our minds or hearts - or both!  We get disturbed in either our minds (the place of our thinking) or our hearts (the place of our emotions).  Both are going to just wreak havoc in our lives when we don't have peace in one or both of them.  I think Isaiah may have given us the key to knowing peace in our minds and hearts, but we sometimes just gloss over it.  The one thing:  Trust.  We haven't allowed Jesus access to those damaging and controlling thoughts - so we keep reliving them. We don't give him access to our emotions - so we keep responding with unreasonable and unruly emotions at sometimes the slightest hint of 'danger' in our lives.

We don't dedicate ourselves to anyone we don't trust - we have to believe in their purpose, plan, provision, position, etc.  We might find we don't trust ourselves - making peace even more elusive because if we cannot trust us, it makes it almost impossible for us to trust anyone else outside of ourselves!  Let me assure you - I don't trust myself on occasion.  I don't trust myself to be honest to the core - knowing I have occasions when I would rather put on a mask (front) rather than being real with others.  I don't trust myself to always resist the stuff I should - knowing the desire resident within me can sometimes "override" reason and simply knowing I shouldn't do/say something.  This lack of trust in ourselves might just be why it is so important to put our trust in someone other than ourselves!  

What does it mean to "dedicate" one's heart and mind?  It means we set that object apart from the "usual" way it might be used and give it over to the "best" way it can be used. The mind might be used in many ways - some quite honorable, others not so much. The emotions can be used to bring us to the peak of elation, or the pit of despair, and all points in between.  As we think of dedicating (separating) our hearts and minds to God, we might want to "compartmentalize" our thinking or emotions into "good" and "bad". I have learned that what some may see as "bad" may not actually be "bad" - because those "bad" emotions can actually be early-warning signs I am headed in the wrong direction!  What I do know is this - when I put my heart and mind into God's control - allowing him to sort out emotions which keep me bound up, under pressure, out of the place of peace in my life, I "feel" better.  Not every day will be perfect, but I can be peaceful even where imperfection exists - knowing he has control of making the imperfect a thing of beauty when I give it to him.

What you dedicate (separate) your mind and emotions toward will determine the course they take in the long run.  Just sayin!