Recently, I ministered at a retreat in the California Redwoods. The scenery was stunning as we climbed the mountain on narrow, winding roads. The week was filled with worship and rich study of the Word. My mind and heart were becoming uncluttered as I enjoyed what Paul described as "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit" (2 Corinthians 13:14).
I awoke early the final morning of the event thinking about the day’s agenda: worship in song, Holy Communion, sharing time, a business meeting, a 52 minute drive, airport check-in, and security screening. Mindful that there was only a two hour window in between the conclusion of the meetings and the departure of my flight home, I found myself a bit preoccupied.
Like a steam powered locomotive, my mind began to surge forward with fretting “What ifs?” Apprehension fueled the momentum as I considered every potential scenario that would result in a missed flight. With anxiety mounting, I shook my head and thought to myself, "I'll just feel better when I am sitting at the gate."
"Why don't you just feel better now?" With screeching wheels and metal sparks, the racing locomotive of my anxious thoughts came to a halt. As the plumes of smoke cleared, the Holy Spirit softly reiterated, “Why don’t you just receive My peace now?”
As I began to formulate an answer (more like an excuse), I saw myself standing on a race track. In my lane stood concrete construction barriers evenly placed like hurdles. Just passed the very last “hurdle” stood Jesus. As I reflected on what I was seeing, the Holy Spirit explained that the hurdles were self-constructed barriers to receiving the peace of Christ. He continued, “When you say, ‘I will just feel better when __________’, you choose to create a hurdle over which you must jump before you receive My peace. Son, I want to give you My peace now!”
That truth exploded in my heart with a prayer, “God, I choose to feel better right now. I trust You and thank You for Your sovereignty. I receive the gift of Your peace right at this moment.” Immediately, I was freed from a distracted mind and a divided heart and was able to be fully present as I engaged in the final activities with the precious people at this retreat.
Perhaps you have found yourself on that “what if”-powered locomotive and have even spoken those very words, “I’ll just feel better when…” Would you take God at His word? “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG).