PLYMOUTH, MI – Life looked radically different only a month ago. Social distancing, mandatory school closings, massive unemployment, and business shutdowns are affecting our lives in dramatic fashion. Most of us have never experienced anything like this. These are anxious days.
One of the most basic life skills - hand washing - is more important than ever. If you’re like me, you have to make a conscious effort to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds according to CDC guidelines. I have been using a method a medical doctor taught me many years ago to help me thoroughly wash my hands. I have been quoting what she told me to say to make sure that I fulfill the 20 seconds.
It dawned on me recently as I quoted what she taught me to say that I could use this important hand washing time to quote some verses from the Bible that calm me and help me trust God. The verses are familiar to many of us:
“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 am developing the habit of quoting these verses as I wash my hands and taking a moment to give God thanks or asking for His help with whatever is on my heart. I am exchanging my anxiety for His peace. Here is an acrostic using the word PEACE that may help.
P - Prayer
Many of us have longed for a deeper prayer life. This crisis has vividly demonstrated just how dependent we really are on God. Turning to God every time we wash our hands is a reminder that we need Him every moment of every day. This season has the potential to deepen our relationship with God as we come before Him with petition, thanksgiving, and our requests.
E - Everything
“Do not be anxious about anything....”. That means that we can lift everything we are concerned about to God in prayer. The picture behind the word “anxious” is of someone who is constantly worrying. It’s a perpetual habit of worrying that God wants us to replace with His perpetual peace. God cares about every detail of our lives and can be trusted with things big and small.
A - Acknowledge
Let’s face it. There are a lot of things happening right now that we have absolutely no control over. We are more vulnerable than we ever imagined and it makes us uncomfortable. This is a moment to experience God’s peace that transcends all understanding. We may not understand how we can experience peace in days like these, but we can as we prayerfully acknowledge our trust in Him. He is Lord! Of Everything! Even with what is on your heart this very moment!
C - Claim
Paul gives us a powerful visual in this passage we need to claim in our lives. It is the picture of God’s peace—of God standing guard over the heart and mind of the believer. All the resources of God are available for our peace. Our peace does not consist in the absence of problems, but in the presence of God.
E - Eternity
Ultimately, we are not living for this time alone, but for eternity. These are hard days, but God is using them to prepare us for eternity with Him.
I am reminded of how one young woman expressed God’s peace. She was dying and the verse, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed," became very meaningful to her.
A friend said to her one day, "You suffer much, I fear."
"Yes," she said, "but," pointing to her hand she said, "there is no nail there. He had the nails; I have the peace." Laying her hand on her forehead, she said, "There are no thorns here. He had the thorns; I have the peace." Touching her side she said, "There is no spear here. He had the spear; I have the peace." --Young People's Delight.
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.