This is one of my favorite passages. In fact, the Bible has opened here before, including most recently on March 25. I thought about reopening to another page, since I have blogged on this passage before, but the words have once again drawn me in:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding” — that’s what I want. Just saying the word peace brings with it an exhale and I feel some stress drop out of my shoulders. Peace. Now think of that peace coming directly from God. And try to wrap your head around the concept that God’s peace surpasses all understanding — we cannot even fathom the extent of the peace that God will share with us. Peace — a full exhale and my arms drop as the tension leaves the back of my neck. That is what I want.
And the great thing about this passage is that Paul wraps it up in a nice recipe or formula as to how to achieve it:
- Rejoice in the Lord always! I have always taken this passage to mean that we should sing God’s praises, which seems easy enough. God is indeed great and it is easy to sing His praises. But as I read it more closely (and look up the definition of “rejoice”), I see that what it really says is “feel joy or great delight” in the Lord. I like the idea of this — step one is to feel joy or great delight in the Lord — but how do you make yourself feel that? Hmmm. Not so easy… or is it? Stop. And think. God is great. God’s love for us is great and unconditional. God can do anything and forgive anything and no matter what we have done, he calls us back to Him. Feel joy and great delight in the Lord and Rejoice! With hands in the air, head tilted back to the sky, Rejoice!
- Step two: Your kindness should be known to all. Be kind to others. Not always the easiest thing to do. Reflect God’s love to others, share God’s love with others. Be kind. Do unto others…
- Make your requests known to God through prayer, petition and thanksgiving — and by doing so, let go of your anxiety, let go of your control or belief that you can control it — give it to God. On paper these steps seem so easy — but in reality they can seem quite hard. It is easy enough to pray for something, or to ask God for something — but, that is not enough. God asks us to let go of it — and by doing so — have faith in Him that He will take care of it.
So to sum it up: Feel joy and great delight in God, share that joy with others and have faith in God to take care of everything else. (Starting to feel a little stress about whether this is achievable — so I am going to go back to feeling joy and rejoicing in God — and I will let God take care of the rest.)
(With hands up in the air and my head tilted back) I rejoice in you, O God. I feel the joy that only you can provide. Help me to share this joy with others. Help me to release my stress and worries and anxieties to you. Help me to let go. Help me to trust and have faith. Thank you God!