Studying, Stress and Peace

Studying, Stress and Peace

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.


4 thoughts on “Studying, Stress and Peace

  1. Karis, I love this imagery: “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. ” It is a good reminder that though we are to be mature in Christ, we are yet children in His kingdom and wait for the day when we will understand more fully all this life has meant. Two things that help me when I worry are these: knowing God hears and answers my prayers and the prayers of those who love me, and knowing that God is already there in that tomorrow I’m fretting over — that He has it managed well before I arrive there. You’re in our prayers.

  2. Karis, your confession of stress, your admission of angst and confusion about what’s before you in the days and weeks ahead called to my mind the same mental situation back many years, when I traveling to OK to defend my dissertation. Although I had no doubt that I was on God’s path and that He had paved the way not only for me but indeed my entire family, I wasn’t so sure that the dissertation committee I would be facing would share my sense of certainty…they would perhaps only detect the bundling bag of nerves that sat before them on that day, perhaps appearing to be fit only to be bounced out of the last step of this important process.

    But that small sense of inner peace that couldn’t be squashed remained as I called out silently to Jesus, expressing gratitude to God that He had orchestrated my life in such a way the prior many years that I had finally reached this point. Peace and gratitude…you have that right on target.

    You are in my morning prayers today as always and will continue to be as we await the final outcome. As I write, I recall clearly your gentle demeanor, your quiet strength, your positivity of purpose. Your outcome, as is true with most who are truly following what they believe to be exactly God’s purpose for their life, will be exactly what He has planned. And you will rejoice knowing that!

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