Laying a hold of Peace: Walking into Peace and out of Anxiety

Hello Friends and Family!

It has been such a long time since I’ve blogged.  I’ve missed it greatly. Most of you know I’m pregnant, but for those of you who don’t…I’m pregnant! We are excited to be adding another little boy to our family this fall.

peace 1
I’ve been reading the prison epistles the last few months and right now I’m in Philippians. This morning as I was reading chapter 4, I came upon a very common and often recited section of scripture.

4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. THEN you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

I love “if/then” statements in the Bible, because it means it’s law. If you do “this”, then “this” will happen, guaranteed. The Bible is full of “if/then” statements. I get excited about them because they are promises we can lay a hold of.  But not without action on our part. That is the hard part.

I mean honestly…how many times have you shared your stresses/worries with someone and they nonchalantly respond to you by saying, “Don’t worry!”, and you think… “Wow, that is so helpful…so glad I shared my situation with you”. Probably everyone at some point has heard that from a well meaning person who didn’t really know how to respond. But Paul gives us almost a formula, if you will, on how to release our anxieties and take hold of peace.

I remember the first time I put this scripture into practice. I was 17 years old and was involved in a great youth group. One of my friends at the time decided they were going to move on to a different church and had taken me out to dinner to share that with me. That in itself is not a big deal. However, somewhere along the way they felt because they changed churches, we would no longer be able to keep up and stay friends and therefore was essentially saying goodbye forever. For any person, “losing” a friend is sad, but to the extremely loyal person, it crushes you, especially when there wasn’t an actual reason for it. I was DEVASTATED. I didn’t understand, and honestly even to this day I don’t really understand what they were thinking, but that doesn’t really matter.
I was a much more shy person 15 years ago and didn’t openly share emotions or feelings. I held myself together enough to get home and crawl into my bed where I cried out to the Father. God was, and is, my safe place. He understands my heart more than I do, and I needed encouragement that night. So I opened my Bible and found every scripture I could on peace. I’m sure I had read Philippians 4 before, but that night it began to take root. I wrote it down on a card and began memorizing it, putting the “steps” into practice.

1. Don’t worry about anything…Other versions read “be anxious for nothing”. Ok, so I was worried and heart broken…I was working on this one…

2. Pray about everything… I was definitely crying out and praying

3. Tell God what you need… well I needed peace and I needed my heart to stop hurting, so I told Him that.

4. Thank Him for all He has done… This seems a bit odd or out of place if you are looking at the above 3 instructions, but here’s the deal, in Psalms it says we
“Enter His gates with THANKSGIVING and into His courts with praise.” Psalm 100:4. So…I began thanking God. What did I thank Him for? I thanked God for God… I thanked Him for being kind and understanding, for how sweet He was, for how God was such a good friend. I thanked Him for always being there for me. I thanked Him for never leaving me, for being consistent, for being someone I could count on, for always being faithful. I thanked Him for how well He loved and cared for my heart.
-I THANKED HIM FOR WHO HE WAS IN MY PAST AND WHO HE WAS CURRENTLY-

I literally prayed these verses all day, everyday, for about a week. I didn’t realize it was anxiety that was plaguing me at the time…I just knew I would be seized with overwhelming thoughts, worries, grief, fear, and fighting the hurt and pain of rejection. My whole body would tense up, and sometimes I had a hard time breathing because it was so overwhelming…but I would pray. Every time those feelings would arise, I would recite this scripture and then I would pray the way Philippians 4 told me to pray. It didn’t matter where I was; I would stop and pray, even if I just whispered it under my breath. If God said I could have peace…then I was going to keep praying until I had it. He’s not one to tease; you can have what you ask for. If there was one thing I knew, and could hold on to, it was that God is TRUSTWORTHY.

About a week later I was babysitting and had been having another anxiety/panic attack, and I remember reciting the verse and thanking God for taking care of me and giving me peace…and that’s when everything shifted. I will never forget that moment. The children were all in bed asleep, and I was in the family room, and it was like this warm blanket just covered me. All of a sudden I understood why it says “peace which transcends all understanding” (NIV). It wasn’t like anything I had ever experienced and even trying to describe it to someone is rather difficult…it was a supernatural moment of God’s goodness, of laying a hold of God’s Word and not letting go until I had seen the fruit of my prayers. My whole body, heart, soul, mind & spirit was at peace. Instead of crying every time I thought of the situation, I actually smiled at it and laughed because God was so good and His word held true! The pain of that hurt melted away and in its place was God’s peace and, dare I say, even joy.

I’ve been able to do this over and over again as new situations arise and can tell you
it still works! If any of this resonates with you, or if you’ve had similar experiences, let me just encourage you that God’s Word truly is alive, living and active. Our prayers don’t go up unnoticed! They aren’t floating around somewhere, but God is listening and He is so ready to respond to you. He desires to give you peace!

Another scripture I had learned at that time was Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

He is a God of Hope! He desires to FILL YOU with joy and peace so that YOU can overflow with HOPE. Our job is to trust Him and allow the Holy Spirit to move in power. We simply come as a child, believing He will do what He said He will do, and the Holy Spirit will take it from there.

Here are some of my other favorite verses:

1 Peter 4:7 
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you!

Psalm 29:11
The Lord gives strength to His people; He blesses them with peace.

Psalm 91:4
He covers me with His feathers and shelters me with His wings

Isaiah 26:3
Lord you will keep in perfect peace whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. 

John 14:27
Peace I leave you; my peace I give you.

Romans 15:13
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 
Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I just thank you for who you are and for your goodness. God, I just ask that your peace would cover and envelope every person reading this today. That your presence would just settle their heart in whatever capacity it is that they need. I thank you that we can trust you and that you always hold our heart so well. I thank you for hope rising, for peace coming, and joy exploding in their heart. Bless them and keep them, in Jesus name. Amen

2 thes 3-16 isaiah 26-3 (2)

Feel free to check out Soaring Higher’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/caitotwell 🙂

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