Yesterday I attended a family picnic and I got ketchup in my hair. My uncle made me a cheeseburger and I topped it with all the fixings – lettuce, tomato, onions, and ketchup. The wind was crazy. I believe what happened was ketchup dripped to my plate and the plate flew into my hair. I remember having to catch it a few times. When that ketchup was in my hair, I could not stop messing with my hair. It became my primary focus. I wanted so badly to get it out of my hair, though I’m sure if I didn’t know it was there I would have been none the wiser.
When we have problems in life we do the same thing too often. We know about the problem and we focus on the problem. We continue to think about the problem. We continue to consider the need to fix the problem. It almost becomes an obsession. If the problem is small, we spend our time figuring out how we will resolve the issue. If it is a bigger issue or something we do not have the means to fix alone, we continue to look at the problem as an impossible hurdle and depression sets in soon after. Sometimes we make ourselves sick as we continue to fixate on our current circumstances.
Just as I should not have been so focused on the ketchup in my hair (it was only a little ketchup and there is a thing called shampoo), we cannot be problem focused. We have a God Who is a God of the impossible. Our focus, whether we have no pressing problems or we are buried knee deep in problems, should always be on God. When He is our focus, when He is first in our life, then our circumstances, our struggles, our problems won’t control us, depress us, or weaken us. Remember, in our weakness, He is strong (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).
In Isaiah 26:3 we read, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” Do you know what is so awesome about that verse? The word keep is “natsar” which means “to watch” or “guard.” The word for peace is “Shalom,” which means “completeness” or “peace.” The word for perfect is also “Shalom.” This verse says if we are fixed on God, if we trust in Him, we will be kept (watched, guarded) so that we are in completeness and peace.
As a parent, a dog owner, and a former caretaker, I have made an observation. When there is something that may seem to be dangerous to a person or a pet, people and animals feel safer in the situation if there is someone between them and the danger. I can note that my best friend would most likely jokingly say that if I was between the danger, it gives her a chance to push me toward the danger and run. All joking aside, the truth is that we feel comfort knowing we are not alone with the situation, and there is this protective barrier that causes us to feel safe as well. My children were not so scared to approach the scary looking clown when they were little if I was standing on the side closest to the clown. It gave them security. They knew they were safe with mum.
We have a barrier of protection from God our Father. We are facing much more than scary looking clowns in this life, but God promises us that we are under His protective wing. “He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge” (Psalm 91:4a NASB). The Bible says that “He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11 NASB). Isaiah 49:2 says that the shadow of God’s hand conceals us, and we can rest knowing that our walls are continually before Him (v.16).
God is between us and the world, protecting us from evil. This is not saying that evil will not come our way. It simply means that He will keep protection of our soul. When we are His children, we have the promise of victory in Christ. We have the promise of everlasting life with Him. There will be evil– bad things will come your way– but you can find comfort knowing that God is between you and the evil. He is your barrier of protection. You are able to seek Him at all times and at any location to help you walk by whatever is trying to break you down, cause you to fall, and disrupt your life. We never need to do life alone.
“The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”
– Psalm 121:7-8 [NASB]
I have told so many people that I have an inability to relax. I always try to keep myself busy, partly because I like to be productive, and partly because I really never learned how to relax. Even so, I see relaxation as a sleeping child or a cute, little puppy curled up in a ball. In my eyes, relaxation is peace.
In John 12, Mary anoints Jesus. But if we look only at the anointing, we can miss something that barely sticks out in the text. Verse 2 states, “So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him” (NASB). Reclining is something one does when relaxing. Some of us sit in a reclining chair and put our feet up. I imagine sitting by the ocean reclining or reclining in a hammock. How peaceful?
At this point in Lazarus’ life, why was he reclining? Yes he was dead not so long ago, and yet brought back to life. But now he had people seeking his life. The chief priests were planning how to have him killed (verse 10). Would you be reclining? I would probably be trying to figure out how to make a fast getaway via whatever mode of transportation was fastest.
Perhaps Lazarus was reclining because he was at peace. He saw first hand the power of God. He was as low as death, and then as high as resurrected. He also knew he had a friend in Jesus. As believers of Christ, we have a friend in Jesus. Although our situation and pressures may be different, we have the ability to recline at the table with Christ. Don’t forget to recline with Christ.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 [NASB]