Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thankful For: The God of Peace

The first time I ever heard anything about "blogging", it wasn't called that. There was a platform at the time called something like Online Diary or Open Diary, and folks did there the same thing folks do now, when blogging. This was maybe 5 or 6 years ago and I don't even know if that platform is still around. I suppose I could google it but I'm too lazy to do that this morning.

In any case, I knew a couple of people who were using the open journaling format and I would read their journals from time to time. One of them posted frequently on items in the secular & church news and how our godless society makes it so incredibly difficult to live a Christian life and raise up kids to be honorable members of society. That journal really got my attention as I'd sit and read, nodding the whole time. The other journal (pre-blogger days, remember) posted much more personal things, and in-depth struggles they had with things that would come along. They also posted inspiring and encouraging things so it was a good balance and good look into the reality of a genuine Christian life, even though it was rather personal and often made me cringe at the private things being revealed. I remember thinking of the second journal, how I hoped unsaved people were reading it so they'd be able to see what Christianity lived, is really like (as opposed to say, Osteenanity, or TBNness).

Eventually journaling gave way to blogging via Blogspot, Wordpress and various other platforms and the whole approach has been defined, redefine, observed, assessed and given rules and expected codes of conduct, etc. It's only been in the last year or so that I have personally come to terms with the word "blogging" as it sounds like such a silly word. I suppose it's been easier to accept the word as it becomes more commonplace in society and even newscasters and newsmagazine shows often use the word and in many cases use their own blogs.

It was quite likely those two early open journals that set the tone for my own style of public journaling, or blogging. For anyone that has read this blog for any length of time, you know that I do a little of this and a little of that - generally - whatever is on my mind at the time, is what I write about.

Sometimes though, whatever is on my mind is exactly what I do not write about. There are days when struggles are so raw, trials are so painful, that it can feel like I'm choking on the difficulty of it all. It's those times that I purposely choose to set my sights elsewhere and in a sense, minister to myself by writing about things that I hope also encourage others. We all know the message of the following passage but I'm going to repeat it all the same:

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:and the God of peace shall be with you. (Phil. 4:4-9)

It takes intentional, deliberate and careful thought to notice this, but did you know that no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how bad, how painful, how difficult, there is a reason to rejoice in the Lord? In fact, the more you think about how merciful and gracious He really is, and the more you examine your own life, the more you will notice just how merciful and gracious He has been, and continues to be. You see it right here in this passage that we are not to worry, but with prayer and supplication and with a thankful heart, let our requests be made known to God, and that in so doing, the peace that can only come from God, will keep (protect) our hearts and minds. I know we all know this passage but there's something I wanted to focus directly on that I think many of us (I know I do) all miss.

It has to be deliberate. We have to purposely not spend too much time dwelling on trials or painful circumstances but instead go out of our way (and out of our own desire to focus on the bad) to focus on good things, such as are listed in this passage. This clearly says that in doing this, the God of peace shall be with us.

This doesn't mean we ignore the bad stuff going on, nor does it mean we pretend it's not going on - we simply give it all to God in prayer. Just hand it over without worry or hesitation and in return He grants us peace of both heart and mind. I've experienced this peace, and I'd be willing to say so has every other Christian. It's much preferred over the anguish and turmoil that can flood our hearts and minds when we choose to spend too much time dwelling on painful things. As women who are more emotional by design, I think we especially have to be very diligent when it comes to this sort of thing because we do have a tendency to over-think things and let ourselves get caught in the trap of depression and a sense of despondency as we dwell on the bad things.

I've written about this before, and likely said the same thing then as I'm saying now. Some things just bear repeating. In a brief chat with a friend last night a comment was made about counselling one's own self as if you were giving counsel to someone else who might come to you with a particular set of problems (the very problems you have). In other words, what would you say to someone else needing sound Biblical direction, compassion and guidance? Those words you would use to minister to someone else's hurting heart and troubled mind, are the very same words you should be using to remind yourself of God's astounding mercy and grace.

So this is why I said above that sometimes, the very thing on my mind is the very thing I do not write about. Currently, and for the last several months our family has been going through some pretty intense trials. I wont share the cringe-worthy details but I will say it often seems like it's truly one thing after another, and often more than one thing going on all at the same time. Yesterday some really good things happened and I was feeling great, and then some more bad news came along and almost literally knocked the wind out of my sails. It replaced the great feeling with one of "here we go again" despondency and discouragement. I tried hard not to let it make me feel that way, but it did anyway. This is when I was reminded of this passage in Philippians and why I wanted to share it again here today. It ministered greatly to me and I only hope it serves to minister to you as well.

Life is often hard, but our God is so good to us. We have to deliberately focus on that, and remember it during the hard times - and then we have reason to 'Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice'.