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The Gift of Peace Within

I was sawing wood yesterday and thinking about lots of things.  Recently I asked the Elders to release me from full-time and allow me to work part-time and hire my son to be an assistant to me in order for the church's teaching needs, and pastoral needs to still be met.  The other choice was to retire, step away from ministry altogether and let the church get on with the task of finding another Pastor.  As I cut wood I found myself thinking about all sorts of things in relation to this.  Most people were happy that I chose to stay on and not retire, but there were a few who did not.  I care about people...and yet most of the thoughts I had yesterday were negative.  Did I do the right thing?  Should I have done more?  Emotions surface - sadness, self-pity, regret, guilt - to name a few.  

There is a word that I was introduced to years ago in reading Henri Nouwen.  It is the word Nepsis.  Nepsis means to be "alert, attentive, watchful, especially in relation to our spirit and soul".  The early church fathers talked about Nepsis as a way to watch over our thoughts and heart...what are you thinking?  what are you letting occupy your heart/mind?  where is God in relation to your circumstances and your thoughts about them?  These are Nepsis items.  The problem of thinking negatively and allowing emotions that are negative to come into our hearts is that they are bit like the mouse on the treadmill...they keep us going and going without getting anywhere at all.  There is a real danger in avoiding this kind of sober watchfulness.  It is that we fall prey not only to the emotional roller-coaster of our mind, but we also fall prey to the enemy who wants us "stuck".  
It was Peter who wrote in his epistle:  1 Peter 5:8 
 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

My prayers are to settle "into" the circumstances, not try to control them.  The ancient fathers prayed in Latin:  "fuge, tace, et quiesce" - "God help me to live in solitude, silence and peace within".   For me, it meant stopping the mouse on the wheel in my head and taking some time to focus on God's purposes being fulfilled in the life he has called me to.  
We have limited ability to control our circumstances and no ability to control the thoughts, desires, and feelings of others - both for or against us.  What we do have is God's Spirit and the joy of living in the reality of the words Paul wrote to the Philippians:

Philippians 4:6-9
6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8  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.
9  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  

Yes, think on these things and be at peace.


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