Sometimes fear, anxiety, worry and panic can make my thought-life slide right off the runway.
A while ago, I was on a red-eye flight with a friend to Houston on my way to do some mission work in Guatemala. Red-eye flights are the worst. Trying to eke out a bit of sleep sitting up, with a neck pillow and cramped legs, is tough, to say the least. I think I had accumulated a whopping hour and a half of sleep when the captain came on the intercom and let us know that we might have a bit of a rough landing since it was raining in Houston. Too tired to care, I closed my eyes, leaned my head back, and determined to sneak in a few more minutes of sleep.
Suddenly, our plane hit the runway... hard. And immediately we started sliding to the left. We had another hard hit when the plane hydroplaned off the runway and into the grass, slamming into a field. Ambulances and fire trucks, complete with flashing lights, rushed out to our airplane.
So we did what any normal people would do at 3:30 in the morning when your plane slides off the runway. We took a selfie.
I don’t know about you, but, just like that plane, my thoughts can slide off the runway, too. And before I know it, I’ve mentally crashed. I’m in full-tilt panic mode. And I’m surrounded by sirens and emergency lights.
But the pathway from panic to peace is prayer.
Here’s what Paul says to the Philippians 4 starting in verse 6,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Some commentators say that word “prayer” is better translated: a prayer whose essence is worship and devotion. Yes, we need to take our requests to God and ask Him for what we need. But prayer should start with worship.
It’s extremely difficult for a closed-fist posture of worry, anxiety and stress to coexist with the raised-hands posture of worship. When we come to God with open hands, acknowledging His goodness, recognizing His kindness, trusting His sovereignty and control, we release the worry we’ve been holding onto so tightly.
Maybe you’re not in a season where your worship looks like dancing and praising and celebrating right now. But you can bow down before the Lord and worship Him declaring:
• Even in the midst of this heartbreak, I’m leaning on God’s faithfulness.
• Even in the middle of this hurt, I’m trusting God’s provision.
• Even in the center of this grief, I’m believing in God’s presence.
• Even under the intensity of this confusion, I’m following God’s direction.
• Even in the depths of this fear, God, I’m counting on you!
We come to God with worshipful prayer, present our requests to Him, and then Paul says,
the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:7, NIV
What is the peace of God? Charles Spurgeon says it is “the unruffled serenity of the infinitely-happy God...” It’s that calmness and peaceful tranquility that comes from a perfectly, infinitely happy God. It is beyond our understanding. It’s more than we can comprehend. It’s impossible for us to explain. But we know it when we experience it.
Anxiety ceases when we encounter the peace of an infinitely-happy God. When we rejoice in the One who is perfectly happy, we are filled with happiness.
Look again at Philippians 4:8. Paul says,
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Paul has already said that through prayer you can exchange your worry for the peace of God. Now, he’s saying that as you start to live out all of the things of God that you’ve fixed your thoughts on, the God of peace will be with you.
He is the source of peace. The maker of peace. The giver of peace. There is no true peace outside of Him.
The peace of God in you.
And the God of peace with you.
When you’re discouraged and life doesn’t seem to be going your way, the peace of God in you and the God of peace with you.
- When it feels like your work is hitting a roadblock, the peace of God in you and the God of peace with you.
- When you’re tired and have nothing left to give, when you feel broken and cry yourself to sleep, the peace of God in you and the God of peace with you.
- When you wonder if you’re the only one who’s struggling, the peace of God in you and the God of peace with you.
- When your marriage is hanging on by a thread, when your kids are rebelling and just breaking your heart, the peace of God in you and the God of peace with you.
- When you question if you’re enough and if God made a mistake with you,
- When you’re drowning in disappointment from unfulfilled dreams, the peace of God in you and the God of peace with you.
Nothing in your life has to change for everything in your life to change.
You turn your panic into prayers and the peace of God will be in you. You fix your thoughts on the things of God and put them into practice, and the God of peace will be with you. That’s when you’ll find the happy you’ve been chasing all along.
Written for Devotionals Daily by Lori Wilhite, author of Beautiful Word Philippians.
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Are you sliding off the runway? Are you in full-tilt panic mode? Turn your panic into prayers and the peace of God will be in you. Pray rejoicing in the One who is infinitely happy! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you. ~ Devotionals Daily