Rest for a Weary Mind

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything with prayer and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus."

The first six words of this verse are nearly impossible to keep. I mean, what was the apostle Paul thinking? Beyond that, maybe the Holy Spirit misspoke (a blasphemous thought… but stay with me). I mean, who does that? Be anxious about nothing. Nada. Do not worry, fret, roll scenarios over in your mind, think about smart retorts, think about future calamity, do not be worried about a sick child, an aging parent, a recent diagnosis, a financial crisis, the chaos of our culture, the tenuous relationship with other world powers, the fragile nature of life, the past due bill, the bully in your office, the lump you just felt on your neck, the class your child is failing, the grandchild in the hospital, the stress in your life, the salt in your food, the rising storm surge, the mistake at work, do I need to keep going? I’m stressed out just writing this!

How, on earth, is this possible? Did our Lord really mean not to be anxious about…. ANYTHING? Toss me a bone here… surely there are some things to stress out over! I mean bad scenarios…they can happen! It certainly is true that a very large animal could attack me and drag me into the woods, never to be heard from again!

Along with what the apostle Paul said above, Jesus gives us these words, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-29)" and also, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27)." The short answer, as you might guess, is Jesus.
Paul says pray about EVERYTHING. Jesus says learn from me. He further says, he imparts peace to us, and we are to not let our hearts be troubled.

My worry tends to flame out from things I really can’t control. My mind gets crazy and wigs out with bad images. When I worry, my heart is not resting in his peace, but churning in step with the evil one. The evil one is the perpetrator of anxiousness, darkness, stress, and anything that flies in the face of Gods peace.

We are in a battle, and much of that battle plays out in our minds. We are given many reminders about right thinking…. Romans 12 enjoins us to be “transformed by renewing our minds.”

Here’s the deal. We rest in Jesus and his finished work, the promise of his Holy Spirit, we renew our minds by being in the word, we let our minds dwell on his goodness, peace, promises, favor, and protection …..or ….. we let the evil one have a field day in our minds.

I wish I could tell you I have this nailed down. I do not. I’ve spent too many “watches of the night” in mind game hell. I have also, gratefully, known the way of escape from that prison. Several avenues lead out for me, all centered on Christ…. Prayer, counting my blessings, recalling scripture (memorizing is a great discipline), praying for others, and sometimes telling the evil one to go back to hell from whence he came!

Our Lord really does want peace, joy, and rest for us! It’s what the writer of Hebrews has in mind when he pens these words, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith…. So that we will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Do not give way to fear. Rest in his peace. Fasten your gaze on Jesus. It really is the only way of escape … the only way to a peaceful mind, which is a gift from God. A gift for his children who learn to rest in his arms.

By the way, our Lord did mean to say,  “Do not be anxious about ANYTHING…”
….I’ll let you know when I get there :)

Pete Nelson