I am up early on a Saturday morning, preparing for ordination exams to become an ordained minister. The range of what is covered is vast and I feel like my information recall has weakened a bit. Confessions, biblical knowledge, theology, essential tenets and practical application will all be tested in a variety of ways and it is easy to get stressed. In the dissonance of study angst, I found myself going through some key scripture passages that I am attempting to memorize. Repeated themes kept springing up, mainly about peace. Here’s a good one:
Colossians 3:15-17 – “And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
With every turn of the notecards, peace and gratitude made an appearance. With every new verse, it seemed like God was reminding me that stress does not get to reign in this process. In every facet of my life where there is potential to brood and worry, I am to invite God’s joy and peace to take the lead. I am not just to aspire to these things, but actually live them. The image that comes to mind is trying to hold an isometric posture (think chair pose, if you do yoga) while your legs are burning and shaking. All you can do is breathe and try to hang on. I think that is the picture of trying to live in God’s shalom in our own strength. Colossians 3 tells us that it is the peace of the Messiah that can control our hearts. Frankly, I don’t have that peace within myself. I may have it for about 5 mintues in the morning before the household wakes up. So what does it mean to let His peace control us?
I think the key is peace’s partner: thanksgiving. Every time a thought of worry or fret tries to surface, I am going to give it a pat on its immature little head and then give thanks for God’s control. I will not let the anxiety of this age let its tendrils drag me down. I will not let my questions about the future impact the present moment God has given. In His power, I will give thanks for the gifts of every day and pray for His deliverence from the temptation to stress.
My mom and I are reading the same lenten devotional that includes music. Since she is on the east coast, she got to it first and texted me about today’s song, which she knew I would love. Like the notecards I was flipping through, it was yet another reminder of this theme. God is not always subtle in His messages. This seems to be a fitting ending to this post…thanks, mom. Thanks be to God.