Finding the peace that passes understanding…
This is a short excerpt from the new: Finding the Power to Believe
Here’s a short passage from my new verse by verse Bible Study of Philippians. The Modern Viking Paraphrase [MVP] is my interpretation of the core message of the scripture. It is a compilation of many translations.
- Don’t worry or get upset about anything, but no matter what is going on let the Lord know your opinion about everything, not forgetting to thank Him constantly.
OK, so the MVP is radically paraphrased this time—it is accurate. It is a sin to worry because it is a lack of faith and trust that God will take care of us. Worry looks away from God and toward our circumstances. My trial lately has been our daily bread. My wife’s has been her health. All of us have something the Lord has us working on for this season of our life. In this verse we are told how to deal with these things.
First, we refuse to worry. We remind ourselves that He has it under control. We thank the Lord for calling us, loving us, having a plan for us, and being trustworthy. Then we let him know our concerns. Please don’t tell me that you think He doesn’t know what you are concerned about.
Jesus covered this in one of his short discourses on prayer in Matthew 6. Verse 8 says:
- Do not be like the heathen, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
So, we don’t need to worry or carry on. But it does not mean we are not supposed to ask. This is important, we need to ask. In Jesus’ sample prayer He told us to pray, “give us our daily bread”. The manna had to be harvested daily. You could not collect enough for a week so you could take a week off. Any leftovers rotted the next day.
We are not allowed to pray, “heal the sick in the whole world” or “take care of my finances so I don’t have to be constantly nagging you about money every day”. God wants us dependent on him. This is the faith walk. We are required to pray daily about everything in our life.
Learning to pray
This daily praying has great benefit. We have found that prayer is experimental. You do not know how prayer will work until you try it in every manner you can think of. On top of that is Paul’s injunction to “pray without ceasing” in I Thessalonians 5:17. This is a constant thing on the level of “She’s constantly watching TV.” You pray all time, any time, whenever you get a chance (and you always have the chance). In everything, ask the Lord.
Here’s some more prayers to try.
For an example, when we’re looking for something we need, we pray and ask the Lord to show us where to find it. Often one of us will have a strong sense that we are to go to this particular store. When we get there, we usually find the item we’re looking for and it is usually on sale.
Between you and me, this is also how we vote. This is only our vote. We do not get knowledge of how others are to vote. This is how we pick a church to attend. This is how we find lost items. It is a very practical gift and necessary discipline, used daily in a wide variety of circumstances. I use it for practice in hearing the Lord accurately.
Just as our prayers are a constant thing, our thankfulness needs to be a constant awareness. I find that as I thank Him for all the little things He does to and for me every day, I have an increased awareness of His presence. I can see what He is doing more clearly.
The key in opening my eyes to see this presence in my life is prayer and thanksgiving. As I get my eyes off my needs and look at what He is doing in my life, I am quickly amazed at all the little things He does for me on a daily basis: parking places, pretty flowers that specifically grow outside my tiny window directly in my view, plants that sprout from seeds I did not plant—exactly where they are the most beautiful, rocks that fall from bluffs just before I go to collect rocks. Sometimes that can be overwhelming.
When we lived in the Southwest, I remember a drive home from Albuquerque down to Los Lunas (20 miles south) late one afternoon. The place where we lived had a view of a hundred miles or more in every direction (except for the mountains 15 miles to the East). Off to our right an amazingly glorious sunset grew. This was a fairly common occurrence out there.
But the amazing part was that we could see the line of clouds as it extended north and south from the Jemez mountains a hundred miles north to the Gila Wilderness a hundred fifty miles south. It was all dark and gray. There was only one short section where the sun was cutting through under the clouds and turning them all red, orange, and rich purple. We were in the middle of that short section and we could see that the view of that spectacular sunset only extended about two or three miles in front of us and a couple miles in back of us That was a neat treat.
What made it special is that we saw the Lord do sunsets, sunrises, storms, rainbows, and so on—where we were among the few that could see them day in and day out, dozens and dozens of times a year. We learned that this was a thing to be thankful for. He was showing off His creation to a pair of visual artists whose life was focused on visual beauty. The more we became aware and thanked Him for the beauty the more he delighted in showing off His creation to us in special ways.
It is sad to think of how He feels when the beauties of His creation are taken for granted by the heathen and most believers. How sad is He when we kill off a whole species? We would tell our people in the church what happened and show them when it happened when we were together and often they simply did not care. As a result, they rarely saw such things—and usually saw them only when they were with us. We were teased us about thinking the Lord would actually have a deer walk out of the woods directly next to the car exactly at the time we were briefly parked there for a snack. Or, that the Lord would have a buffalo walk up to the fence to look in the face of our daughter out on the highway where we had stopped to look at the herd in the field. It happened too often to not be the Lord’s hand. So, we thank Him for His love.
- And the peace of God, which goes far beyond all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Here is the practical result of all this prayer. Our hearts and minds are kept in Jesus, within the Kingdom. The thorns and briars are cleared away. The seed finds good soil and grows and flourishes within us.
This is that peace in the midst of the storm, in the center of conflict, under the assault of danger, when everything around us seems to be collapsing into chaos. This is the power we receive to be forbearing. This is the reason we can sincerely rejoice. It is all the result of an ongoing constant relationship with the One who called us into His Kingdom where we talk together about everything..