A Word for the Anxious

Today I offer the second of seven devotionals written several years ago for Judson students about to embark on a missions trip to India.  The “80 wooded acres” is a phrase often used in the early days of Judson College to describe its scenic beauty–and, truly, if you haven’t been on campus at this time of the year, God’s handiwork is evident all around.  Were I to update this for today’s reader, I would mention white-noise apps for smart phones instead of white-noise machines in hotel rooms, but the basic message would be the same.  I pray this blesses anyone needing a word of encouragement to be strong and courageous today (Joshua 1:9).

♫  “I’ve Got Peace Like a River”  ♫

Isaiah 26: 3 – “He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!” (TLB)

When my family and I lived on campus, first in Ohio Hall and then in the campus apartments, we would enjoy walking around the “80 wooded acres” during the summertime—when, sadly for most of our students, who don’t hang around Judson at that time of the year, the grounds are at their most gorgeous.  One time my daughter Amie, who must have been all of two at the time, was walking with me over the bridge that covers Tyler Creek, when she noticed her reflection in the water.  “Look,” she exclaimed with glee. “Two Amies!” pointing to herself and to her image in the creek.

There’s something calming about bodies of water.  Have you ever seen one of those white-noise machines—so popular among too-busy business folks traveling too many nights and staying in too many hotels?  Several of the soothing sounds that emanate from the machinery when you plug it in have to do with water: the sound of ebbing-and-flowing waves on the beach, a gentle waterfall, raindrops periodically cascading onto a windowpane.  Christian hymn- and chorus-writers have tapped into this concept for centuries.  “Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace.”  “I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.”

Change gears here for a second, and think about the wisest, most profound, most intellectual professor you’ve ever encountered here at Judson, the one whose wisdom causes you to marvel on a regular basis.  Got one in mind?  Now, with all due respect, consider that person an ignoramus . . . at least where God’s peace is concerned.  Paul tells us in Philippians 4:7 that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  In other words, the most brilliant among us will never get a handle on this peace thing.  Earlier in that same chapter Paul tells his readers not to be anxious about anything, but through prayer and with thanksgiving, to present the desires of their hearts to God.

Most of you will experience a little bit of anxiety at some point in this trip.  Perhaps you’re afraid of flying.  Perhaps you’ll end up getting sick.  Perhaps there are issues at home that you’re leaving behind, and though they will be out of sight for a few weeks, they will very much not be out of mind.  In those moments when the enemy endeavors to steal their joy through worry and anxiety, remember that God will keep His children in perfect peace, when they keep their minds fixed on Him.

Prayer for today:

Prince of Peace, who spoke, “Peace, be still,” and calmed the raging storm, calm the raging storms of our lives on and throughout this trip, that we might not be hindered due to worry or anxiety, so that we might fulfill with confidence the mission to which you have called us.  Amen.

The Lord be with you!

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