Training Our Minds for Peace
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Phil. 4:8
Training Our Minds for Peace – On the morning of March 25 I woke up earlier than I had in a few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sleep later than my alarm clock, but since the time change, getting up early has become harder and harder. So on this day I found myself in the kitchen, at my desk, and it was still dark outside.
In the top right corner of one of the windows in front of me was a tiny spider. She was so little, I almost missed her. Her body was swollen and her legs needle thin. She was climbing in thin air. I saw through the kitchen light’s rays a thin, almost invisible web. She walked to the top of her home, and suddenly her legs began to twist and turn in a quick motion as she fell downward. A control fell, but out behind her spun her web. Back and forth she went, weaving and creating in the darkness.
My husband walked down a few minutes later and I turned to show him what I was watching, but when I looked back she was gone. Just like that, the sun was peaking over the mountains behind the house and as more light flooded in, I lost sight of her.
I guess she went to bed, I said to my husband. Like we had become friends, and it was perfectly natural for me to call the spider a “she” and I believed she was simply resting after a night of work. I had never seen a spider actually spin a web in real life before.
It isn’t a coincidence that the morning I saw the spider, I had just felt the waters of despair – out of nowhere – invade my heart the night before. With this simple incident, before the sun had begun to shine, God told me: Remember the work in the dark. Remember: you can still create beauty in darkness.
Meditation is beauty. Meditation is simply thinking about and dwelling my mind on God’s Word. It is not sitting cross-legged on a mat in a steamy room. It is going about my day, whispering to myself truth from God’s Word.
When I cannot read, when I cannot think, when I cannot even pray, I can trust. – Hudson Taylor.
Sometimes trusting will be just reading over and over again the same verse. Or maybe meditation is writing out a verse for the day, the month, the season. For me, during a period of anxiety, I memorized Psalm 4:8: “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” So I would say it before bed, but sometimes I would say it over and over during the day when peace was hard to find.
Paul encourages the readers of Philippians to “think” on the following things: true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, praise worthy, and a good report
Now, let’s look at Psalm 19:7-14:
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether….Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.
Do you notice some similarities? Paul seems to be using the same words the author of Psalm 19 uses to describe God’s Word. If we are to think on true, noble, right, and praiseworthy things, surly God’s word should be at the top of our list!
Peace is found in meditating, or pondering God’s word.
When Elijah fond God, he was at his lowest of lows. He had wanted to day only days before. An angel of God had to rouse him, pride food, and encourage him two times to eat. So when he traveled 40 days further into the wilderness, God met him on the mountain. God showed Elijah tow things:
1. God was in the smallest of details.
2. Elijah was not alone.
You see, Elijah’s depression and sadness ultimately stemmed from what he says in verse:
“So he [Elijah] said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’” I Kings 19:10 (emphasis mine)
He was alone, or so he thought. Being disconnected from community took its toll on him. Early this summer I found God was calling me out to developing community and connection. I’ve bulked about it – thinking I can put it off. But little subtle hints have reminded me: I need to be intentional when it comes to community and connection. I must be discerning and wise, but also intentional. That’s why I created this Prayer to Peace Challenge. I want to remember, I’m not alone.
So after God told Elijah – hey, I’m here. He also told him to connect. He gave him three kings to anoint and another prophet to find. God also told him about 7,000 people who had still not bowed down to the idols in Judah and Israel. Elijah was not alone. You are not alone.
Stop and be still, and you will find God is in the whisper, not the wind & storm. God is in the normal, connecting moments of community. So how do we find God’s voice, hear it in the middle of the silence?
1. Elijah first slept. Sometimes rest is the first thing we can do to slow down our mind and erase the loud voices crowding for space in our brains. How can you find physical rest today?
2. Elijah then ate something. Physical health is just as important as spiritual health. Sometimes they are tied together. What can you do to improve your physical health today?
3. Elijah went out by himself. A wilderness is sometimes an analogy in the Bible for something hard, or difficult. A season of hardship. However, wilderness here I think is just a physical quiet place. Where can you find physical silence in your life?
With five little ones – finding absolute silence is hard. But I’ve learned to be creative. I might spend an extra few minutes walking outside to get the mail. Today I lingered in the shower longer because it was a slow day and we had no where to go. Sometimes I will go outside and check on my chickens. It is just a few minutes of leaving my kids inside, but I can experience quiet there.
It isn’t complicated, and maybe you already do these things. Be intentional with your time. Don’t think of your to-do list. Don’t linger on the hurts of others, or mistakes. Don’t think of victories or successes. Linger, ponder, and meditate on God’s Word.
“Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace.” – C.H. Spurgeon