Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rejoice. Be gentle. Don't be anxious. Pray.

Kentucky Lake. May 2013. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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. 

I love to read, but I sometimes I need to re-read. I have a bad habit of being so into a book that I just read and read and read. This is bad for a couple reasons: I finish excellent books quicker than I'd like and then I can't remember the details of what I read like I wish I did. That last part mostly applies to non-fiction books, which need to be read differently from fiction. This applies to the Bible. Sometimes I read with too much assumed familiarity that I miss important phrases.

So, anyway, I read the popular "Crazy Love" by Frances Chan in January 2010. A couple points stood out to me then and continue to stay with me. One of the passages I think about quite often is related to my favorite verse. {See, I told you there would be more recent thoughts on Phil. 4:4-7 ...}

"But then there’s that perplexing command: 'Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!' (Phil. 4:4). You’ll notice that it doesn’t end with '... unless you’re doing something extremely important.' No, it’s a command for all of us, and it follows with the charge, 'Do not be anxious about anything' (v. 6).

That came as a pretty staggering realization. But what I realized next was even more staggering.

When I am consumed by my problems-stressed out about my life, my family, and my job -- I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a 'right' to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities."
{From "Crazy Love" by Frances Chan}

Um, yeah, me too.

We talk about obedience often at our house. I have a 3-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl, so there is still much obedience training going on. Lately, I've been telling them how they can trust me and Daddy because we're trusting God. Obedience is a choice.

And I'm reminded my kids aren't the only ones who need to be making some more obedient choices. There are commands packed in those favorite verses of mine about how we're supposed to live our lives:


Let your gentleness be evident. 

Don't be anxious about anything.

Pray about everything. 

Y'all, this is my favorite passage of scripture, yet these are constant struggles for me. They're my go-to words of encouragement to friends, even though I need frequent reminders myself. It's that peace that passes understanding that makes the difference in everyday moments. 

So, really, I guess that means we don't have to understand to obey. Hmm, seems like I've said that to my kids before. Now, I don't believe we're called to blindly obey. We are invited to know God, just as kids know their parents. But sometimes we don't get the bigger picture that our Father can see, just like us parents sometimes see more than our little ones can grasp.

Like I mentioned yesterday, my God-sized dreamer friend Mandy mentioned to me about that line about gentleness between "Rejoice ..." and "Don't be anxious ..." And, you know, I skip over it sometimes, many times, actually. It's almost like it shows up out of the blue when I actually read from the Bible instead of repeating it from memory. {And right now I'm can't remember if Frances Chan really talked about Phil. 4:5 near the passage I quoted.} But, you know, I still struggle with yelling or becoming irritable about circumstances that aren't worth the energy it takes to be that way. I don't feel gentle so much of the time.

Gentleness is part of the fruit of the Spirit. It's about being considerate. The part I skip over in my head and apparently my heart. But, you know, it's possible because, truly, the Lord is near. I'm thinking if I allowed the gentleness part to be part of my mental pep talks to refocus on God during my ordinary days, there would be less yelling and irritability, thus peace on the inside and outside.

Really, living any other way is disobedience to the One who is actually in control anyway.

I saw writing prompts from Ellen Stumbo, and really wanted to write nearly all of them. But I started with: "My favorite quote ... ever!" And then I realized those words from Philippians 4:5 are a little out-of-the-blue challenge for me when I remembered they were there, so I'm linking up with Kristen Strong at Chasing Blue Skies too. {She's hosting this week's link-up on her Facebook page.}

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  1. Thanks for the reminder..I too forget this pretty quickly!!

  2. KristinHillTaylor8/02/2013 8:39 AM

    I know I'm thankful for grace, especially in this area.

  3. Kristin, it is no coincidence that you renewed these verses for me right now, and that they have prompted me to focus on being gentle and calm. God has really used you to ground me in my current circumstances. Thank you, friend.

  4. KristinHillTaylor8/04/2013 4:20 PM

    I'm so glad God knows exactly what we need. Thinking about you!