i was reminded this past week that Jesus was born into chaos and was at peace in the midst of chaos…He indeed is the Prince of Peace. we could all benefit from some of that.
months ago i was blessed by a meditation on philippians 4:4-6 in a particularly stressful time of life and in light of this season and in view of the tensions of these days i revisit these truths.
“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
1. uncovering joy
– it’s easy to get out of touch with Jesus in the busyness and the pain of life. that’s why the ancients had spiritual exercises to keep them in step with Jesus. One helpful exercise is called the prayer of examen. If has two parts.
– The first part is called the examen of consciousness (uncovering joy):
- ask God “God, how have you shown your love for me today?” (this is the essence of joy in Jesus)
- pay attention to what God reveals
- rejoice in Jesus for what he shows you
***as i’ve been asking God to reveal his “joy moments” to me, God’s been reminding me he loves me through my sons. as amos hugs me and nathan smiles at me i am receiving God’s assurance that he cares for me, even when things aren’t going as i’d like. this gets me back in touch with the joy i have in Jesus.
“5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6A Do not be anxious about anything…”
2. uncovering anxiety.
– the word for anxious here can be related to “merizo” meaning to be drawn in different directions.
– anxiety IS not Gods will for you. He said don’t be anxious about anything!!
– here the second part of the prayer of examen can be helpful: examen of conscience (uncovering anxiety).
- knowing we are in the Joy of Jesus, we can ask God “God, please reveal to me the root of my anxiety or any offensive way within me”.
- pay attention to what he reveals
- surrender that anxiety/twisted thinking to God.
***a while back i started feeling pain in my jaw. i have been grinding my teeth. through counsel and prayer I was able to uncover the anxiety. the situation with youth group was just the surface. what was at root of my stress was my fear of failing as a leader. i was not trusting in God but myself. as that was uncovered i was able to deal with the root of my anxiety.
“6b but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
3. thanks to Jesus
– sometimes we’re trying to pray but we’re so caught up with the issue being thankful is the last thing in our mind. this keeps us from peace and it drives us back to anxiety. that’s the problem we only see the issue and not Jesus.
– i’ve learned a third prayer that i’ve found to be really helpful for me to focus in on a Jesus. this is why this prayer is particularly helpful if one is struggling with habitual sin or oppressive thinking.
– this final exercise is called quietening prayer: its a habit one can develop that helps give thanks and center in on an aspect of Jesus, to build within us a reminder of his presence.
- pick an aspect of Jesus.
- do a breath prayer: “(breathe in) thank you Jesus, (breathe out) you X” (ex “thank you Jesus, you are my peace”).
- be open to anything he reveals.
***often in work and in life i find myself going on “auto-pilot” and before i know it i find my self in bad spaces and so wound up with pressure. an aspect i love about Jesus is that although there were so many demands upon him he was never busy. so when I’m getting worked up about something i take a deep breath and pray “thank you Jesus, you walk with me.” i am brought back to balance with the assurance of not only his presence, but that he offers to walk with me until i’m home…with Him.