Guarded

While sitting in church during a Monday night prayer meeting, I noticed an old friend a few rows up from me. As I remembered how we had met years before, my mind flooded with memories of when I faced sadness and disappointment.

This person had been my Christian counselor who listened to me and prayed for me. The wise counsel given by this God appointed counselor to me helped me realize that I could get through anything knowing that God was with me right then, guarding my heart. At the end of each and every counseling session, he would pray for me and end the prayer with these words: “In the strong and mighty name of Jesus.” As I sat in church on that Monday night, my eyes filled with tears as I thanked God for my Christian Counselor and how God had used him to not only guard but to restore my heart.

When you don’t feel strong, it helps for someone to remind you that He is strong and mighty. Jesus stands ready to help and guards us as we encounter unexpected and heart wrenching moments. His Holy Spirit will again provide peace that passes our understanding.

In Philippians 4:6 -7, we are told what we are to do in the event that anxious thoughts try to invade and then told what God will do for us.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It is clear. His protection will encamp around your heart and mind after you request your need and thank God in advance for how He will help.

Anxiousness causes an uneasiness. Prayer can point us to the One who already knows the solution. He made a way for us to not live in constant uneasy and tumultuous times and is wanting for us to seek Him to save and protect. Even though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, He soothed me and guarded me from harm.

God knows that trouble will come and harsh realities can exist. When everything seems to be going wrong, it is time to pray. If anxious thoughts come in a person’s mind, there is a way to handle them. We must approach God with our needs. When we pray, His peace stands at guard around us and will protect our hearts and minds.

Prayer is a communication line with God. It gives us the ability to express our innermost feelings and desires. Here are the steps on praying if you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious from Philippians 4:6-7:

First, pray. Petition God which means you need to ask Him to help you.

Next, give Him thanks for all that He has done for you.

His peace, personified as a guard in Philippians 4:7, will protect you and make the agonizing moments bearable. This special Peace is one that transcends human understanding. When the weight of a situation tries to drag us down, His Peace lifts us back up.

I know that God provided my counselor to provide peace when I felt far from any form of peace. God knew my fragile heart needed someone to listen, to care and to pray for me. I am so thankful for the Peace that He gave to me through my sessions with my counselor.

The Holy Spirit is our comfort and counselor who helped me and with the help of my human counselor, I learned how to climb the mountain and overcome. God’s peace traveled with me and brought me through. Isaiah 9:6 ESV …and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

I appreciate the way that God guards our hearts and minds. He wants His children to pray, to thank Him for His many blessings, His goodness and faithfulness and to ask for Him to intervene and help. I know that when we do speak to Him, thank Him and ask Him, he will guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.

I am thankful for my family and friends who prayed for me during a very difficult season in my life many years ago and for the godly wisdom imparted to me through my Christian Counselor. I am most thankful for God who in His great mercy and grace lifted my head. He was my shield around me and my glory as I forged ahead. Psalms 3:3 ESV: But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. Many thoughts tried to bombard my mind, but the Holy Spirit shielded me from the damage that could have happened without Him. Oh, I am so thankful for the way He guarded me!

God provides His peace in ways that we may not even quite understand but He will help. He will restore and heal us as we keep our hearts and minds in prayer with the Peace Maker. He is guarding us so that peace and restoration can return. His hedge of protection allowed me the time and space to function in life even though I would cry multiple times in a day. I finally let go of the past and allowed the newness of my life in Christ to settle into my heart.

The old has gone; the new has come. Praise God for bringing me through and allowing newness to come! When I faced very difficult times, I appreciated how reading God’s Word poured strength and life into my weary heart. His Word and His Holy Spirit renewed my heart.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

In life, there will be ups and downs. If you ever need a counselor, Focus on the Family provides counselors and can recommend counselors in your area at their website: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/get-help/counseling-services-and-referrals/

My prayer today is that you will always reach out to God in prayer and never lose hope. He is with you and will never leave you. Keep trusting Him, my friend. Pray for Him to work it all out and guard your heart in the process. He did it for me and He’ll do it for you.

Isaiah 42:6-7 ESV

“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
    I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,
    to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.

Promised Peace

After I arrived at the mall with two boxes of shoes and three shirts to return on a Thursday evening, I handed the receipt to the cashier in the shoe section. She stated, “Uh, these had to be returned within three days.”  It was Thursday and I had bought the shoes last Saturday. I would have had to return them by Tuesday to get a refund but it was Thursday.   

Two days late.  The irritation began.  “I can’t believe this!” I thought.  I had bought the shoes for one of my daughters who wasn’t shopping with me on the previous Saturday since they were selling for 80 % off regular price, but she didn’t like them once I brought them home.  Now, what was I going to do with shoes that couldn’t be returned?

I rode the escalator to the clothes department, handed the shirts with tags still on to the same woman who had sold me the shirts last Saturday and she blurted out, “Oh these had to be returned in three days.  It says so on the receipt.” At that point, I thanked her for her time, turned and left the store. I had been too busy to try on the shirts at the store last Saturday, but once I tried them on at home, I didn’t like the way that they fit.  Again, the news was not what I had expected.

Normally, at my local mall, items can be returned.  I don’t return much but it is never a problem. At least it hadn’t been a problem until then.  

The clothing cashier’s words reverberated in my mind like a gong as I walked out of the store.  “It says so right on the receipt. It says so right on the receipt.”  

Now, I had worked all day as a teacher, prepared spaghetti meat and noodles, picked up a dress that had been altered and walked into the mall around 7:15 p.m.  My body and mind had almost reached their limit for the day of any form of weird and crazy, but the two rejections jolted me. They tried to remove my peace.  

It’s so easy to give in and allow our peace of mind to be pierced by words of others. The peace seems to evaporate like steam as the irritation pot starts boiling.  Although I stayed calm during my encounters with the cashiers, I also felt mad that I hadn’t realized that I only had three days to return reduced merchandise. It said so right on the receipt, but I had stuffed the receipt down in the bags.  I couldn’t know the truth because I had ignored the truth. 

The calmness and peace that I had entered the store with had now been leaking out of my mind.  I had to just face now that I will no longer have the money that I had spent on the shoes and shirts.  Even though my peace faded for a moment, I allowed myself to not stress over and dwell on the unfortunate turn of events.  

In that unexpected place, I had to remind myself that the peace that Jesus promised is still with us today.  It may feel like chaos, like utter destruction, like unthinkable difficulty, but there is still peace.  That sweet peace may still be waiting by my bed where I read the Bible this morning or at church when the music and message seeped deep into my heart last weekend, but I have to remember where it is.  I have to return to peace or I will be aggravated, irritated and sad.

I may not be able to instantly arrive back to my Bible by my bed or sit in church, but I can call on Jesus wherever I am on Earth.  I can release the anxiety and pray. I list out my issues in prayer and let Jesus carry them. On my own, I struggle beneath the weight of the burdens.  When I know that He has heard me in prayer, my mind begins to reconnect and remember His peace.  

I know that Jesus left behind peace for his friends before he ascended back to heaven to provide comfort for the restless hearts who would soon walk on Earth without his physical presence.  He knew that we would also have a need to think back to where we had peace and remember it is still there. The God who took time to tell us that He was leaving peace for us wants us to remember to seek peace when nothing seems peaceful.  

We can notice when our peace begins to fade and get peace back through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  As soon as peace appears to have left us, it is time, right then, to take a moment and recall that Jesus said He was leaving us peace.  Pause and pray for that peace, the kind that passes all understanding; the kind that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus; The calm that is needed for our moment.

Right in the middle of the turmoil, our hearts must remember the path leading back to peace.  Jesus left His peace here on Earth. This deliberate action on His part gives me extreme comfort knowing that I can reach for His peace and it will come; that peace that Jesus gave me when I read his Word this morning at home or when I shared my heart with him in prayer; the assurance that He’s got this, He’s with me and He’ll never leave me.

Remember these words of Jesus right before he went back to be with His Father: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 (ESV)