Pacing yourself

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One of the great things about living in North Carolina is the changing of the seasons.  Crisp fall days with colorful leaves painting the landscape, occasional icy mornings of winter with a light covering of snow that will be gone by noon, azalea and dogwood splashes of beauty on a lush green canvas of well-trimmed lawns in spring, and the sweet summer breezes at the end of toasty days–I love them all!

One of the tough things about living in North Carolina is the changing of the seasons!  Raking up all those fallingleaves, scraping and shoveling the icy remnants of snow and sleet, mowing and weeding and trimming the spring resurgence…and yes, right now, trying to catch your breath when you walk from air-conditioning into the humid oven of Tarheel summers–not always in love with these things!

But God gives us seasonal reminders here that life consists of good pacing, regular cycles built into the created order that provide times for hard labor, nourishing meals, wind-down evenings to relax, refreshing nights of sleep and sabbath rests on the weekends.  Those who neglect the built-in pacing eventually wind down and wear out!

Even the days set aside for sabbath rest can go off track!  Into the frenzy of a family getting ready to leave for church services on Sunday morning, into the bustling church world busily planning programs and activities comes a voice:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…the peace which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (John 14:27; Philippians 4:7).  This voice of the Lord comes to a people who are overcome by the tensions and strains of lives out of control.

Do you ever feel that you are barely keeping your heads above water because of the strains pulling and pushing you under?  God’s desire for us is to enjoy His perfect peace.  His design is for us to follow His lead and set a Christ-centered pace for our lives.  Just like the seasons of a North Carolina year, there are cycles the Lord gives us to keep us refreshed and enjoying the kind of peace only He can give.  I find that each summer is a good time to evaluate how I have been doing, make any changes I need to make and resetting the course for another year of walking in the peace and power of Christ.

J. Oswald Sanders suggests a four-part process for finding and maintaining God’s peace, a process which is available and should be used by Christians on a regular basis.

  • The first step toward His peace for the believer is to rediscover who God really is.  He is absolutely sufficient for all things and adequate for every need.  We need to invest the time in Bible study and prayer necessary to know our Lord.
  • Next there must be recognition of ourselves as the primary cause of our tensions.  Jesus did not say, “My anxieties I leave with you” but “My peace!”  When we control the reins of our lives, we inevitably are inadequate which creates further tension and anxiety.  We must realize we are insufficient.
  • Then, renewing our minds is God’s plan in Christ.  It follows logically that a mind free from strain and anxiety will have to be renewed by the Lord.  Hard work does not produce tension and strain, the mind does!  Therefore, the Bible teaches that we should have our minds renewed so that God’s peace prevails there.
  • The last part of this process is regular relaxation and planned quiet times to rest and be restored by the Lord.  He is our peace and we must abide in Him.

So, the next time you feel frazzled by the tensions and strains of your life as it slips out of control, or at least feels unusually hectic, turn to the Blessed Controller of all things and let Jesus Christ be your peace.  With each passing season of life, take stock of where you are spiritually and ask the Lord to reset or restore or renew the “peace which surpasses all comprehension” as He guards your hearts and minds with a peace only He can give!

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