It had been one of “those” parenting days. Being asked to meet with the teacher, finding nits in your son’s hair (eek!) and the added concern of transitioning a child to a new kindergarten. That and a few other curve balls were making me feel quite overwhelmed and stressed. As I reached into the cupboard for a mug for a much needed cup of tea, I automatically sidestepped the “Christmas” one – the bright red one with snowflakes, and the words of Christmas. You know – Peace, Love, Joy. But as I grabbed a teal one with polka dots, I felt the prompting of God.
“Are you really relegating peace, love and joy to Christmas alone? Especially when right in this moment you need peace?”
Peace is not just a nice term pertaining to Christmas alone, or to be used only in relation to world events and the absence of war. Peace is real. Peace is tangible and peace is available to you and me(!) today. Peace is God given and God breathed. Not only did Jesus give us peace, but He is peace personified.
“May the Lord of Peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
Peace is something to be received in our spirits, not our minds. Peace comes from within. You can’t try and think your way into peace. It rises up from the inside. When we allow peace to be in charge it refuses admission to anxiety and worry. There is no frustration or fretting in peace.
With Christ in us, we don’t have to react to the external. We respond to an external with what is on the inside. The enemy wants us to focus on the external and not the internal. He wants to remove Christ from the equation. Jesus was able to speak peace to the storm because that was what was inside of Him. We have access to the same for Jesus is in us. We need to capitalise on God being on the inside of us. He is with us in every situation because He is present within. We can speak peace to the storms around us because it is on the inside of us. We sometimes just have to let it out.
I sat with my cup of tea, regretting I hadn’t chosen the Christmas mug, but nonetheless I let the peace of God surround this anxious mother’s heart. I let peace take charge.
“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:15)
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
According a team of psychologists from St Louis University, stress is as contagious as the common cold. Apparently this is through the conveying of stress through tone of voice, facial expressions and posture. As people perceive the stress of another, they themselves “catch” the stress.
If stress is contagious, other internal realities must also be contagious. A person who is angry, worried or negative can also impact the atmosphere around them and by default also impact people. Who hasn’t spent time with someone who is down for some reason and ended up in the same frame of mind?
If stress is contagious – if that internal reality can then influence the external reality around us, then surely the living spirit within us must also be contagious? We can impact the world around us through our presence as we broker the reality that we are aware of into our surroundings.
Jesus modelled this after being awakened by His disciples in a life-threatening storm. He stilled the storm with a rebuke and the declaration of “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39). What enabled Him to sleep in the storm also calmed the storm when it was released from Him—peace. His internal reality became His external reality. And then it became the external reality of His disciples as they benefited from the calmed storm.
Bill Johnson said this “Your internal reality will always become your external reality.”
It’s time to make Jesus more contagious than the common cold and certainly more contagious than stress.
Well it turned out that after throwing a party for my husband, celebrating 2 of my sons’ birthdays and organising a Women’s breakfast all in the same week, it was an innocent boiled egg that was almost my undoing.
Oldest son needed a boiled egg for school yesterday. I diligently boiled the egg the day before. Placed it in a container surrounded by tissue and put it in the fridge for safe keeping. I was organised, and onto it. But in the fridge it remains, still.
In the rush of getting to work, the excitement of birthdays in the house, the egg was forgotten. That is until 1pm as I was buying, yes you’ve got it, eggs. Oh no! The stress and the panic. I rang the school to see if it was an afternoon activity and I could drop it off. Too late, the time had passed.
So I then just worried and fretted as to how it would have affected my son ( on his birthday). I imagined the tears of disappointment that would greet me as I met him after school. And what I would say to encourage him. I berated myself for forgetting the egg.
However, a happy, smiling son came running out of school holding an egg. Yes his teacher had spare ones. Interestingly too he was rather nonchalant about it, even to the extent of “oh I dropped it mum, it cracked” as he hopped into the car.
As I drove in my car today, the egg has remained in the holdall between the front seats where my son placed it. Cracked, slightly green from the dye that was put on it and forgotten.
I have glanced at it often today, reminding myself of the worry I got into over it. And it reminds me of how often we let worry steal our joy of the present. And how often the imagined outcomes that we worry about stay just that, imagined.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Corrie Ten Boom
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:27)
As I write this the egg has been removed from the car and the other from the fridge but not before a lesson has been learnt. Don’t worry especially about the little things, especially about boiled eggs.
I love handbags! Love them! I must confess I have several….well many would be correct. On a business trip to Kuala Lumpa my boss and I hit the markets on the day we were flying home. The markets were easily 80% full of bags. We had a fantastic time. Not sure what my husband thought though when I opened my suitcase and all you could see were handbags.
Recently though my handbag was giving me much stress and frustration. It was a great looking black bag with several compartments. In fact when I was travelling recently it was the perfect bag with a compartment for my passport and another one for phone and wallet etc. But back home to everyday life and it just gave me stress! My phone would ring and I would not be able to find it in my handbag even though my phone is yellow! I’d go to find my wallet and have the same problem. And don’t mention trying to find what compartment I’d shoved my keys into! It seemed to be the perfect bag for attracting squashed raisins from my toddler and amassing “stuff” that I couldn’t even remember how or why it got into my bag!
So in an effort to recover my equilibrium and my sanity the handbag was donated and another one much simpler has taken its place (from my wardrobe of course).
Something has to be said for the simpler life! Far too often we lug around stresses in the form of handbags or other that quite easily we could remove / reorganise / declutter from and be all the more free.