Then…

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 

(Philippians 4.6-7)

I woke up last night at 1:30 am.  Wide awake, my brain running at about 110 MPH.  It was screaming with thoughts.  I was taking mental inventories of how much food we had and how long that could last.  Then I moved to electricity and heat.  What if that goes down?!  Now my brain was bouncing like a ping pong ball.  This concern.  That person.  What about this?  What about that?  I tried to turn it off.  That didn’t work.  I pretended it wasn’t happening.  Believe it or not that didn’t work either.  I tossed.  I turned.  Then I remembered- “then”.  Look at Philippians 4.7.  It begins with the word “then”.  Then means there is an “if” somewhere.  Sure enough, there it is in verse 6.  If I trade my worry for prayer, telling God what I need AND thank Him for what He’s done; “then”.

I am fairly certain I’m not a well-practiced worrier.  But I was practicing last night.  Do you know why?  I was concerned about another word in Philippians 4.7-guard.  The word guard is a military word.  Picture the soldier outside of camp “standing guard”.  I was fretting over who was guarding me in the midst of this mess.  That’s exactly what Paul is addressing here, God’s peace will stand guard over your heart and mind!  Wow.  That’s what I want.  No, that’s what I need.  The beautiful thing here is that it exceeds all of my understanding.  I don’t have to have it all figured out to experience peace!  That’s so helpful to me because internally I like to have a pretty good idea of where all this is going before I let go and let God.  Paul is preaching to me, “it’s not dependent on your understanding Mark.  Hand it over to God.  Thank Him for all that He has done so far.  Then let the peace of Christ stand guard.”

Finally, what I love about this passage is that this is not written from a guy in an ivory tower.  It’s Paul in jail!  Not a fun place.  Prison would give me a lot of fodder to worry on.  Yet here is a guy who has discovered the spiritual secret to overcoming worry and panic.  It’s all right here in Philippians.  Stress tested and found reliable.  What a joy!

You may be holding up a little better than me.  I hope so.  Nevertheless, every soul craves a faithful guard that provides a sense of peace.  Paul provides answers to that end.  Be sure to practice them!  When worry hits turn it into your prayer list.  Don’t forget to say thank you.  “Thank you’s” remind you of how many ways God has answered your prayers in the past.  That will give you a shot of hope for the future.  Then, there’s that word again, let the peace of God stand guard over your heart and mind.  Peace be with you!