Message given August 5, 2018, at Crosspoint, North Crestview for Students at “Fresh Words from a New Generation” event.
When I was trying to write this message, I had no idea what to share. I was thinking through some of my favorite verses from scripture, some verses that have really spoken to me in the past, and I just wasn’t inspired to speak on any of them.
And then I had a ridiculous week. And I’m going to tell you about it, and tell you what God showed me through that week. This was very recent, and still very fresh on my mind, so I might get a little worked up about it, but here goes.
Go back in time with me. It’s Tuesday. After a long, serious conversation with my boyfriend, we realize it’s not going to work out, and that we need to break up. I’m pretty upset, but ultimately I realize it’s the right decision. The Holy Spirit was pretty clearly telling me that this guy was not who God has in mind for me, and I was finally ready to listen.
Fast forward. It’s Thursday. I’m still coping surprisingly well with the break up, but a whole slew of new problems enter in. I’m at work, hanging out with some interns, and I find out I’m being evicted because for a little extra income I’ve been listing my spare room on Airbnb, and apparently that’s “illegal” and “against the lease agreement” and blah blah blah. So I find out via an email from my apartment manager that I have 7 business days to vacate my apartment.
Now I’m not an easy-going person. Normally if big change is happening in my life, and I didn’t initiate it, I go a little crazy. I start freaking out, and my anxiety kicks in, and my heart starts racing, and I hyperventilate. So a break up and an eviction notice in the same week is a recipe for disaster for me.
Before I tell you sort of how this story ends, I want to share a verse from scripture with you. Philippians 4:7 says “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” We hear this phrase a lot, right? A peace that passes understanding. I pray for this pretty often. I ask God to give me that peace.
In this moment, in this crazy week, with big change happening, and change that I did not initiate, I experienced this peace. As I was explaining my situation to people and asking them for help or advice, they would ask me how I was doing, and I would say “I’m just… abnormally calm.” And they’d say “yah! You are! What’s up with that?” But I was covered in a peace.
This verse says “His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” That phrase is really important here: “As you live in Christ Jesus.” I was living in Christ, right? I heard the Holy Spirit prompting me to break up with that boy, and I did it. I was following Jesus. I let him be Lord over my life. And I saw this verse come to fruition in such a tangible way. That peace that exceeds anything we can understand guarded my heart and mind, in the midst of an eviction notice, in the midst of a break up.
I’m not a Bible scholar. I’m not a theologian. I don’t know the ins and outs of scripture. But I know my own experience. And I know that there is tangible proof from my own life that this peace that passes understanding really exists, and it guarded my heart and mind right when I needed it most.
For most of my life I assumed this phrase “peace that passes understanding” came from the book of Proverbs or something like that. If you don’t know, the book of proverbs is a collection of, well, proverbs—of a bunch of truths like “be wise” and “follow the lord” and other just generally true statements.
But when I looked it up very recently I found out that it’s not a proverb; it’s in Philippians! Just a quick overview: Philippians is a letter written by a guy named Paul to the church of Philippi. This changes the context of this phrase so much! “Peace that passes understanding” is not just a general truth written in a book full of general truths. It’s not just something people say, like “Oh, it’s ok, God gives us a peace that passes understanding.” No, Paul had the Holy Spirit. Paul knew Jesus. Paul lived under the same covenant that we do. Paul telling us that a peace that passes understanding will guard our heart and mind is a huge promise!
So, as promised, here’s the outcome of that ridiculous week. I’m not getting evicted. I get to stay in my apartment because I have a great lawyer; I just have to sign a paper that says I won’t Airbnb the spare room anymore. And in all of the madness, I stayed at peace in the Holy Spirit. I didn’t freak out or spiral, I just kept trusting Jesus and keeping his peace. Now I was definitely scared. I worked pretty hard to find a back up plan. But ultimately I was just, like I said, abnormally calm. And I attribute that to the Holy Spirit, to God’s peace, that exceeds anything we can understand.
So my challenge to you tonight is this:
- Live in Christ Jesus.
- Let his peace guard your hearts and minds.
- Allow yourself to experience his peace.
Live in Christ Jesus. That means surrender to him. Follow him. Ask him what his will is for your life, and do it. Maybe that’s breaking up with your boyfriend, like it was for me, but maybe it’s not. Ask him what it is.
And then let his peace guard your hearts and minds. When you’re getting worked up or stressed about something, take 10 deep breaths, and ask the Holy Spirit for peace. He provides it every time, I promise.
Lastly, allow yourself to experience this peace. At least for me, it’s easy to ask God to give me peace. The hard part is to accept it. But God doesn’t want us worrying about everything. He wants to cover us in his peace! So I hope you’ll let him.