Nine years ago from this date it was a Monday. It’s the one date I will never forget, that and the following day. On that particular Monday, I was working as an Assistant Produce Manager for Publix Super Markets. This was my second time through the ranks. I was at a very busy and profitable store. I was thirty years-old and had lived a pretty selfish life. I was only worried about me and my “significant other.” I was just going through the motions of life: work, play, fun and friends. I knew who God was, had taken courses in college to learn more academically about God and religion. I had even written my first book with the underlying theme that was meant to point readers back to believing in God. But that was the height of my devotion. I prayed, but usually out of selfish ambition. So I thought I knew who God was, but I was far from the truth. And never did I truly know God. And as a soon-to-be Father, I was not a very good person.
Nine years ago I was finally coming around to the thought of being a Dad. I had gone through every stage of emotion, except one, at that point. I was angry at first when Mrs. Z told me we had not been cautious in our “sin” (we had been living together out of wedlock for years-oh no!). With the news of us going to be be parents, I thought my life was over. No more late nights at bars, clubs, concerts, drunken parties on the beach. No more endless hours of playing video games. No more extravagant vacations (there had only been four in my life up until that point). So anger gave way to sorrow, sorrow to despair, despair to comfort, comfort to acceptance. When I went to the sonogram and we found out we were having a girl, my heart gave way ever so slightly. I carried her sonogram picture in my pocket every day at work. It was still foreign to me. For Mrs. Z, she had felt that connection right away. And what an amazing blessing being a mother is. Sure there is a world of discomfort and days of pain a man will never know, but there is a connection and life-changing experience women undergo as they grow a person in their womb. God made us for such an amazing purpose.
Despite who I was nine years ago, that was all about to change in the next 48-hours. And luckily, God and Jesus are loving, forgiving Fathers and they were waiting and willing to welcome me into a family I had ignored for my entire life.
33Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
Oh, the power of these words. Quite possibly the most notable verses in Philippians. Verse 6 has to be one of Paul’s most quoted words that speak to everyone about our fears, our anxiety, our worry. Do not be anxious about anything! Anything! NOTHING! COVID-19: NO! The collapse of American society: NO! The quickly approaching apocalypse and global destruction due to our complete lack of respect for our precious planet: Okay, maybe you should be anxious about that.
But in all seriousness, Paul shows us here that whenever you have a moment of fear, or doubt, or anxiety, go to God. With prayer and petition (petition means a request for God to do something), with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And once you drop that request, take a deep breath and allow the peace that transcends all understanding calm your heart and soul. Don’t think that this is something you should do one rare occasions. I CONSTANTLY do this to calm myself in nervous situations. I did it everytime I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane as an Airborne Infantryman. I did it on missions overseas. I do every night before I start a shift as a police officer. I ask for the impossible sometimes, for a city to behave and for the citizens to do the right thing, or for God to be with me as I go out on a combat mission, to put His supernatural protection around me. But here is the truth, my prayers have always been answered. I am here writing this devotional. And those prayers always help calm my heart and mind. But notice what I pray for: I pray for things that truly matter. If your prayers aren’t being answered, maybe you should look at what you are praying for.
Reading plan: Philippians 4:1-9
Deeper reading plan: Isaiah 52, 53, 54
Prayer and meditation: Pray for our country. Pray for love to conquer all. Pray that Christ infects our hearts and ignites a final fire of revival to sweep this land.
Fitness challenge: Run four miles for time.