I can’t remember what this morning’s Jesus Calling was about, but I do know I read Matthew 1 in The Message. Matthew 1 has an extensive list of Jesus’ ancestors all the way back to before King David. We’ve been going through Ezra at church, and you know that the Old Testament is rift with genealogies. My wife Carey has been tracing her ancestry back quite a ways too.
I’m marveling that the God I serve now was the same God who sustained each of those people I just referred to in the past. God presence should never be ignored. We get extremely busy, and “ignoring” God seems to be the norm more than the exception, but even when there are a plethora of irons in the fire we can be cognizant of God’s presence.
The consquence of this mental assent is peace. Peace is vital for those of us who fight mental illness. It characterized the life of Christ even when He stormed the temple. When I’m cleaning a house I can live within the presence of God. Let me tell you how.
Today as I cleaned I repeated to myself, “This is the only place I want to be right now doing exactly what I’m doing right now.” I said that over and over, and it baptized me in peace.
Yesterday I was afraid to leave the house, but I forced myself to do it. I’m frequently afraid to walk out to the mailbox and leave the house. Mantras, Scripture from memory and prayer play a pivotal role in my battle with depression.
Some of us do not have because we do not ask. Why is that? Maybe you’re afraid to leave the house like me. Maybe you’re glued to the sofa, bed or television because that’s the only place you find peace. I’ve been there. You know this. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage was what I “found” yesterday when I left the house. Courage is following a situation through to its worst possible scenario, yet you still put one foot in front of the other to show up. You don’t bail. You don’t text someone you aren’t coming. You don’t phone in sick when you aren’t. You don’t spend money because you think it’ll make you feel better. It never does.
You call on the name of Jesus for salvation. Jesus means salvation. That just didn’t happen on a cosmic level 2000 years ago. It happens from second to second as you put your faith in Him. Peace is not allusive. It’s a tangible reality that affects real-time situations when you’re awake or sleeping. If all you can pray is God give me peace you have one of the most powerful prayers that God does not ignore. God does not ignore any conversation you have with Him, but I think peace is one of those things He desparately wants to give each one of us. It’s the foundation for making good decisions.
You’ve heard the saying, “Haste makes waste.” I believe that’s true. When you get in a hurry to finish something you are going to make mistakes, and energy, time and money are wasted. There’s nothing wrong with going slow. It’s not the American way. After all, we’ve got to do as much as we can in as little time as possible.
That’s a lie.
Lie’s constantly bombard us from sunrise to sunset, and as our culture gets more and more materialistic the more we fall prey to the seen things of life.
We’ve got to focus our attention on the unseen because what is unseen is eternal. Oh that I could catch a glimpse of the unseen forces around me. I know it would scare me to death, and peace would probably not be the word I’d use to describe my vision, but sometimes fixing my eyes on the peace of God is just plain hard. If I heard God’s voice from the sky I’d likely be equally as frightened because I have never heard His voice that way. I’ve heard His voice. I hear His voice now, but I’ve never audibly heard it from the sky.
But then I remember the Scripture that says blessed are those who have not seen yet believe. Faith in the peace of God has never been stronger in my mind and heart than it is at this point in my life. I don’t have courage because fear is absent. I have peace knowing my LORD goes before me in conquering the fear I face.
Do you remember the first time you jumped off a diving board? I do. I was terrified, but I did it, and now I’ve not only jumped off a diving board, but I’ve bounced really high off of one to dive! There are things that happen everyday for those of us who fight mental illness that are like jumping off the diving board. We do it anyway don’t we? We put one front in front of the other to head to the thing we are terrified of doing, yet somehow we get to the other side, and we realize we jumped real high to accomplish it.
Many people with depression give up. I’m not just writing about suicide. They give up because the fear overwhelms them to the point that they literally won’t leave the house. I understand that better than most.
I could easily sit here for the rest of the night. I could fold some laundry, watch t.v., make snacks, write another blog post, post on Pinterest and surf Instagram. I’m not though. I’m going to go to the bank, coffeehouse, soccer game and take my family out to eat. There will be fear as I feed Lucy, exit our ranch house and drive the backroads to the part of town where all of that is going to take place.
But there’s going to be smiles I get from my family, notably, my wife and daughter. There will be a great soccer game where I get to see some amazing young ladies play hard, and as we break bread there will be wonderful fellowship that could not happen if I stayed at home.
Don’t give up beloved. I know it’s hard. Sometimes it’s impossible, and for those times all I can say is pray. God hears us. He loves us. And He will give us peace.