Philippians 4:8-9 " Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
Simple enough. Keep my mind fixed on him and think on what is good. So why am I not at perfect peace? Why does it too often seem like the God of peace is not with me? Turns out it's easier to keep my mind fixed on other things. Two hour movie - check. Baseball - check. Mindless social media scrolling - check. But you know what cuts through even sports and entertainment for me? I can focus laser-like on suffering and anxiety or the two combined. I can think about my suffering and misery and be afraid all through the day and wake up thinking about them at night. If I would fix my mind on Jesus like I do on my anxiety, I imagine I'd be a lot closer to the realities described in Isaiah 26:3 and Philippians 4:8-9.
In talking about fear and anxiety I've said this before:
- Talk to yourself, don't listen to yourself.
- Stick with what you know, not how you feel
- Fight the lie with the truth.
That's really good advice, and I stand by it, but turns out it's really hard (which I actually talk about in that post linked above; I apparently need another reminder). With the sin remaining in my heart, it is still a battle to incline my mind toward the things I know to be true; to keep my mind fixed on God. It is easier to let anxiety and fear wash over me. It's easier to meditate on my suffering and wallow in self-pity and despair.
So we find it's a battle to keep focus to pray. It's a war to read carefully God's Word. It's a struggle to meditate on the truth found in God's Word. It's hard to lay in bed and silently recite Scripture (not to mention memorizing it in the first place). The Bible talks about spiritual warfare for a reason. It's not just a neat metaphor for the Christian life. It is the reality of the Christian life.
I'm realizing more and more that knowing the right thing to do doesn't make it easy to do. Lacking peace and rest in God? Me too. Let's go to battle. (And let's do it together. We weren't designed to do it alone.)